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Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) Reviews

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What is the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC)?

The Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) is the 2009 Agreement (translations available) between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce.  This Agreement reaffirmed ICANN's independence, its commitment to making decisions in the public interest that are accountable and transparent, and its commitment to undergoing four regular reviews performed by the community. Signed by ICANN and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), the Agreement detailed ICANN's commitment to four key objectives: 

  1. Ensuring accountability, transparency and the interests of global Internet users
  2. Enforcing its existing policy relating to WHOIS, subject to applicable laws
  3. Preserving security, stability and resiliency of the Domain Name System (DNS)
  4. Promoting competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice

Additional information on the historical aspects of the AoC can be found in the table below.

What are AoC Reviews?

The Affirmation of Commitments calls for periodic assessment by community review teams of ICANN's progress toward the four key objectives described above. While the performance of each of these reviews demonstrates the commitment to ensuring accountability and transparency, the reviews each have a specific focus.  

Performance of AoC Reviews

To date, three of the four types of reviews have been performed, with the Accountability and Transparency Review being conducted two times.

  1. Accountability and Transparency Reviews

    ATRT1 (2010) and ATRT2 (2013); ATRT3 will be launched in January 2017.

  2. Review of Security, Stability and Resiliency of the DNS

    SSR Review (2010-2012); SSR2 Review was launched in June 2016.

  3. Review of WHOIS Policy

    WHOIS Review (2010-2012); WHOIS2 Review will be launched in October 2016.

Review of Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice (CCT)

The CCT Review was launched in January 2016.

Timing of AoC Reviews

The AoC reviews follow a three-year cycle. Per Board resolution 2015.07.28.09, the next cycles of WHOIS, ATRT and SSR Reviews are expected to commence in Fiscal Year 2017. The chart below summarizes key milestones associated with each review. Click on the dates in the chart to access relevant documents.

Review Call for Volunteers Review Team Formed Final Report Issued Board Action Details
ATRT1 11 Jan 2010 26 Mar 2010 31 Dec 2010 24 Jun 2011
ATRT2 5 Oct 2012 15 Feb 2013 31 Dec 2013 26 Jun 2014
CCT 1 Oct 2015 23 Dec 2015    
SSR 1 Jun 2010 30 Sep 2010 20 Jun 2012 18 Oct 2012

30 June 2016 -

12 August 2016 -

WHOIS 1 Jun 2010 30 Sep 2010 11 May 2012 8 Nov 2012

What are all those dates in the above table?

Call for Volunteers Volunteers from the community are essential for the reviews to succeed.  ICANN will publish an announcement when a Review Team is being formed and urges interested community members willing to work on the initiative to join and contribute.
Review Team Formed Composition of the Review Team will be published.  A variety of factors may be considered during the selection process, such as expertise in topic, knowledge of ICANN, geography, etc.
Final Report Issued The Final Report of the Review Team will be published after conclusion of its work, consultations with ICANN community, Board and staff.
Board Action The Board reviews the Final Report submitted by the Working Group, takes action on the recommendations, and requests that an implementation plan be developed for the approved recommendations.
Details The Board will take action on the Final Report within six months of its publication, after considering the community’s views and assessing feasibility and utility of implementation.


AoC Reviews Schedule

An updated schedule for AoC Reviews was published for Public Comment in May 2015 that resulted in a Board resolution calling for the CCT Review to continue as scheduled in June 2015), defers SSR2 by nine months (with the call for volunteers targeted for June 2016), defers WHOIS2 by one year (with the call for volunteers targeted for October 2016), and targets ATRT3 for July 2017. This Board action addressed widespread community concerns regarding community bandwidth and its ability to manage the expected workload.  This approach was supported by public comments received from At-Large and several GNSO stakeholders on the proposed schedule.

The Board’s rationale notes:

The Board is addressing this issue because of the significant impact seven reviews in FY2016 would have on ICANN stakeholders' capacity and ICANN resources. In response to public requests to delay some and effectiveness of Reviews, a proposal was posted for public comment that called for four Reviews to take place in FY2016 and introduced several improvements to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Reviews. Widespread concerns were received regarding the community's and ICANN's ability to conduct this large number of simultaneous Reviews, in addition to the already heavy workload, such as the IANA stewardship transition and the many policy initiatives underway and anticipated to start in FY2016. As a result, today's action provides relief to the community by proposing an updated schedule of reviews, and operational and process improvements to enable the community to more effectively participate in these key accountability mechanisms.”

This resolution also called for ICANN to engage in dialogue with NTIA, as signatory to the AoC, to confirm the revised schedule. Through this process, the proposed schedule was further revised to launch the ATRT3 in January 2017 in light of the amount of time that will have passed since the ATRT2 effort. ICANN notified [PDF, 469 KB] NTIA of the revised schedule in January, 2016.

Implementation of Board-Approved Recommendations

Click on the name of the Review in the chart to access the latest status update on the progress of implementation of recommendations.

  # of recommendations In Progress Completed
ATRT1 27 0 27
ATRT2 12 2 10
WHOIS 16 1 15
SSR 28 8 20
Total 83 15 68

Review Process

The chart below outlines phases and typical actions and milestones applicable to an AoC Review.  Actual actions and durations vary for each review, as can be seen from the four AoC reviews that have been concluded.  While the phases of future reviews are expected to be consistent with this outline, specific actions, milestones and durations may vary based on the unique aspects of each review.  Additionally, the outcomes of the “Proposed Schedule and Process/Operational Improvements for AoC and Organizational Reviews”, which was posted for Public Comment, may impact aspects of future reviews.

Phase Key Actions and Milestones Estimated Duration (months)
Assemble Review Team Call For Volunteers (representatives of SO/ACs and independent experts) 3 Months
  *Submission of applications for Endorsement of SO/AC representatives  
  *Endorsement of SO/AC representatives  
  Selection of finalists and publication of constituted review team members  
Plan Review Set up of communication vehicles, preparation of checklists and tools 3 Months
  Assemble relevant information, including implementation update on previous review team's Board-approved recommendations  
  Prepare and publish review budget and rationale  
  Conduct planning meeting/conference call and briefing on implementation status; elect key leadership positions  
  Hold initial meeting with ICANN Board and Staff  
  Develop Terms of Reference, work plan and schedule  
Conduct Review Review kick-off meeting (in person at ICANN meeting), including staff updates on implementation; adopt Terms of Reference, work plan and schedule; organize work streams and responsibilities 12 Months
  Collect data - desk review, feedback from stakeholders, Board and staff  
  *Collect feedback from stakeholders  
  Update work plan and schedule; determine need for external consultants  
  Develop RFP based on specifications from Review Team and hold competitive bidding process for external consultants (if needed) (concurrent with RT preliminary analysis of collected data)  
  Provide budget update  
  Select and contract with external consultants  
  External consultants conduct work  
  External consultants deliver findings and results  
  Analyze collected data and engage with staff and Board, as appropriate to clarify and answer questions, address feasibility of potential recommendations  
  Prepare Draft Report  
  Translation of Draft Report or Executive Summary  
  *Public Comment period to collect feedback on Draft Report  
  *Hold meetings with stakeholders to collect feedback (concurrent with PC)  
  Analyze and consider feedback; engage with Board and staff to address feasibility, dependencies and linkage to other work  
  Prepare Final Report and deliver to the Board  
  Translation of Final Report  
  Deliver Final Report to the Board  
Board Action *Public Comment period to collect feedback on Final Report 6 Months
  Analyze: feasibility, dependencies and linkage to other work; implementation options and resources to implement; present recommendations to the Board (ICANN staff)  
  Board considers and takes action on Review Team's recommendations  
Plan Implementation Initiate implementation (Staff,Board and Relevant stakeholders) 3-6 Months
  Plan implementation work  
  Provide periodic updates on implementation planning  
Implement Improvements Conduct implementation work 6-18 Months
  Close implementation project and move into standard operating procedure  
  Conduct ongoing reporting, tracking and monitoring of effectiveness  

* Activities impacting ICANN stakeholders

Historical Information on AoC Reviews

Document Name Link
ICANN CEO talks about events leading up to the new Affirmation of Commitments and what it means Video available with text translated:
Affirmation of Commitments (2009 Agreement) Arabic
Accountability & Transparency Frameworks and Principles  ICANN Accountability & Transparency Frameworks and Principles
Methodology Public Comment -- Discussion Draft: Affirmation Reviews
Review Teams' Composition Review Teams' Composition and Process of Selection

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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."