Posted on 17/Nov/2015
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The ICANN54 meeting in Dublin mid-October represented a key moment in the development of a proposal for the IANA stewardship transition. We are now entering a crucial time where all the pieces must come together in harmony, in order to cross the finish line.


Earlier this year, I wrote that 2015 would be a busy year for the Internet, and it most certainly has been just that.

For the past 19 months, the ICANN / Internet community, led by the hundreds of participants in the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) in particular, has spent a significant amount of time developing possible mechanisms to replace the US Government’s role, and ensuring that ICANN has the right accountability and governance systems in place to allow the international multistakeholder community to effectively exercise its supervisory role in future.

This historic journey started last year, in March 2014, when the United States government announced its intention to transition its historical supervision of the IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community.

These functions, administered by ICANN under contract with the US Government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), deal with the global coordination and maintenance of the Internet’s unique identifiers, such as domain names and IP addresses.

How did we get to where we are now? The latest proposals included setting up IANA as a legal entity and affiliate of ICANN, which would be subject to reviews by new dedicated operational committees, based on enhanced performance reporting.

A system of escalation would ensure that the IANA functions are performed properly and that any emerging problems would be dealt with swiftly.

These new mechanisms would come with enhanced community powers, notably in relation to the ICANN Board and appeals processes.

Once precise proposals emerged, opinions started to polarize on possible alternatives, which is fairly common at this stage of discussions when dealing with such evolutionary organizational changes on an international level. Those of us ensconced in Brussels-level negotiations are familiar with these kinds of interactions.

The ICANN54 meeting in Dublin mid-October represented a key moment in the development of a proposal for the transition.

Dublin seems to have provided the right level of positivity; the right setting for the community to work through a number of important questions and move toward a revised set of proposals, particularly as regards accountability and governance issues.

After weeks of intense discussions, we witnessed another success story for the multistakeholder model. Stakeholders from across the spectrum of interests – business, civil society and government representatives – focused on finding a path forward that everyone could agree upon.

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) finalized its work at the end of ICANN54 in Dublin, and is currently discussing potential implementation-related work.

As for the CCWG-Accountability, current plans include:

* As of the 15th November, a 36-page formal update on progress has just now been released. We highly encourage you to review this document here. The full Third Draft Proposal on will be shared with the public on 30 November 2015, with a 21-day public comment period that will begin then end on 21 December 2015. This will be announced on then, so please keep an eye out for it and get involved

* Pending no major changes or concerns raised during the public comment period, the group aims to submit a proposal to the ICANN Board by mid-January 2016. It would then be sent to the U.S. Government for review, and implementation would then likely begin later in the year.

This is where we stand as of today; a crucial time where all the pieces must come together in harmony, in order to cross the finish line.

With all stakeholders getting involved and providing input, we look forward to seeing the community produce a consensus-led proposal in the time frame outlined.


photo credit: Alpha du centaure
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