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Opening Remarks by Rod Beckstrom

Opening Remarks
President and Chief Executive Officer­
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
Opening Session
Internet Governance Forum
Nairobi, Kenya
27 September 2011

As prepared for delivery

I'm delighted to be at the IGF and thank the government of Kenya for hosting this fine meeting, as well as ICANN's public meeting here last March.

In the past two years, ICANN has undergone tremendous positive change. Its oversight moved from one government to the world through the Affirmation of Commitments. That agreement includes significant reforms, overseen by ICANN's global multi-stakeholder community, that are now well underway.

The Governmental Advisory Committee assumed a much more prominent role in ICANN. An extensive and constructive consultation between the GAC and ICANN's international Board advanced and improved the new generic top-level domain program, opening up the right of the dot. Internationalized domain names are now in the root in China, India and other countries around the world, and the security of the domain name system was enhanced with DNSSEC.

ICANN is an example of the multi-stakeholder model at its best: open, inclusive, balanced, effective and international, with board members and staff from all five continents and an actively engaged volunteer community around the world. Over 200 countries are involved in ICANN through the GAC, community, Board, staff and operations.

Another element is the IANA functions contract, which ICANN performs in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce.

Many parties around the world have submitted comments on the IANA contract renewal, giving voice to their ideas on how to make it even more international, in keeping with the fundamental character of the Internet itself.

The IANA contract is the next critical step in the evolution of the multi-stakeholder model, and the best vehicle for its expansion. Many parties around the world now seek clear progress on the structure of the contract. The credibility of the multi-stakeholder model will be judged by how well this evolution occurs.

Efforts to improve ICANN and reform the IANA contract are a collaborative, global community process. We need to make continued progress to avoid putting the multi-stakeholder model at risk. Otherwise a small number of stakeholders who do not represent the global public interest could step into the breach. This could stifle the voices of those whose contributions have led to the unified and open Internet that the world enjoys today.

The past two years at ICANN have seen tremendous success in executing on every major initiative that faced us, including some – like new generic top-level domains – that had been stalled for years. We should all be proud of our collective achievement.

The multi-stakeholder community – with your input - has also significantly improved ICANN. We are now implementing reforms, including transparency and accountability, emerging from the global community.

And we have made significant advances in operations across the board, upgraded the professional staff and management team, and clarified our strategic priorities.

The theme of this IGF is "The Internet: a catalyst for change". The multi-stakeholder model is the catalyst for the Internet itself. By protecting that catalyst, we protect the Internet.

If you believe the multi-stakeholder model matters, if you believe a highly functioning domain name system matters, if you believe ICANN matters, please speak up. If you think the future of the Internet should rest in the hands of those who benefit from it, please say something here, or share your views in writing. Stand up for the multi-stakeholder model in all its manifestations, including the vital institutions of ICANN and the IGF.

Please join the ICANN community for our next multi-stakeholder international public meeting in Dakar, Senegal, in October.

And thank you for your support for one world, one Internet.

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."