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Remarks by Rod Beckstrom President and Chief Executive Officer Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Opening Ceremony
Internet Governance Forum
Vilnius, Lithuania

As prepared for delivery

I am delighted to be in Vilnius - capital of unique, historic and beautiful Lithuania, now a member of the European Union.

I begin my remarks with a simple reminder: the Internet works. Every minute of every hour of every day. The domain name system processes hundred of billions of transactions each day. More transactions than the world's financial markets, more than the telephone systems.

The fact that the Internet works is the ultimate tribute to the multistakeholder governance model. Governments could not do it alone.

The Internet has the power to transform the human experience. It enables communication on an unprecedented scale and is woven into billions of lives around the world. Its openness, its inclusiveness, its relative lack of regulation make it a fertile field for innovation and competition, an engine for much needed economic growth.

Why mention inclusiveness? Because everyone using the Internet should and must have a voice in its governance.

If governance were to become the exclusive province of nation states or captured by any other interests, we would lose the foundation of the Internet's long-term potential and transformative value.

Decisions on its future should reflect the widest possible range of views and the wisdom of the entire world community – not just governmental organizations.

What ICANN Does

ICANN is a multinational institution working for the common good: a stable, secure and unified global Internet. This is reflected in the increasingly global nature of its work and in ICANN's international staff, board of directors, supporting organizations and advisory committees.

ICANN's role in Internet governance represents a unique form of consensus-based governance: global outlook; bottom-up decision-making; decentralized control; inclusive, transparent processes; and attention to community voices at all levels.

As coordinator of the domain name system and Internet addresses, ICANN is a vital steward of the Internet's future. The support of the global community and its multistakeholder, private sector-led decision-making model are and will continue to be cornerstones of ICANN's success.

Our international advisory and policy-making groups represent a full range of stakeholders. This includes a Governmental Advisory Committee representing the legitimate role of governments in public policy, and a Board of Directors from around the world.

Progress Since Sharm el Sheikh

ICANN's achievements since the IGF meeting in Sharm el Sheikh last year speak forcefully of the benefits of the multistakeholder model.

With the 2009 Affirmation of Commitments, the United States and ICANN formally recognized that no single party should hold undue influence over Internet governance. The Affirmation acknowledges the success of the ICANN model; it commits ICANN to remaining a private, not-for-profit organization, validates the role of the Governmental Advisory Committee and declares that ICANN is independent and not controlled by any one entity.

Another significant achievement is the historic deployment of Domain Name System Security Extensions, or DNSSEC, at the root - the biggest structural improvement to the Internet in 20 years. When it is fully deployed, the threat of certain types of cyber attacks will be greatly reduced.

Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, allow the use of non-Latin scripts in top-level domain names. The IGF prioritized it; ICANN and our community are delivering it. Billions of users can now access the Internet entirely in their primary scripts. Since the 2009 launch of the IDN fast track process, ICANN has received 33 requests for IDNs covering 22 languages. Fourteen have been delegated and more will be soon. The 22 include Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts, together used by over 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Multistakeholder Model Under Threat

Some want to bring Internet governance into the framework of intergovernmental organizations exclusively. What would that mean? Most Internet users - businesses, service providers, non-profits, consumers - would be shut out of the governance debate.

Make no mistake: if we do not address this now - effectively, together - the multistakeholder model that enabled so many successes will slip from our grasp. We must work in partnership to continue the innovation and openness that are hallmarks of the multistakeholder model.

ICANN Supports the IGF

The IGF is an important public forum where all interested parties come together equally to address these issues for the common good. Its greatest values are its egalitarian philosophy and its inclusiveness: the doors here are open.

The IGF derives its strength and legitimacy from its multistakeholder composition. Bringing it into a traditional intergovernmental framework would undermine what the UN itself has been pursuing in recent years: public, private and community partnerships.

All stakeholders must make their views known to their respective governments; it is governments alone that will decide the future of this body at the UN General Assembly this fall. 


In conclusion, each of us can call on the UN to retain this successful IGF format that is so valuable.

But what matters most is that we further strengthen the multistakeholder model by continuing to welcome diverse and occasionally contradictory voices. Together we can ensure that the Internet's future rests in the hands of its most important constituency: the people.

The Internet works. Let's keep it that way.

Thank you.
Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."