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 ICANN.org 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
The transition process has provided a unique opportunity for the global community to gather with a shared purpose, to achieve the common vision of evolving the core Internet functions efficiently.
It’s over a year since work started for several multistakeholder groups on the transition of the US Government stewardship over the IANA functions.
One of the four key conditions set by the US Government was that the transition proposal should ‘Support and enhance the multistakeholder model’.
If the transition process itself is anything to go by, this condition will easily be met. In fact, this process has been a remarkable embodiment of the model, and is helping to make it stronger. The transition has provided a unique opportunity for the global community to gather with a shared purpose, to achieve the common vision of evolving the core Internet functions efficiently.
Bringing in these different views, perspectives and personalities together could have been a major challenge. Instead, the remarkable progress achieved so far, shows that this challenge has turned into a hugely positive exercise. The different stakeholder groups and different regions of the world, have come together as a team to produce high quality, highly researched work. The mix of lawyers, economists, engineers, civil society and user voices or academic experts in governance has ensured much-needed, robust exchanges and solidly developed material. The sensible and well thought-out proposals that have emerged are a testament to that impressive, pioneering collaboration.
And if several extra weeks have been taken here and there to ensure that the proposals would be as robust and consensual as possible, it has been a quick process by any standard: it would be hard to find an example in history of such a global exercise and major, critical evolution happening in such a short space of time, and with such quality and cohesiveness.
From a European perspective we can be proud, too: European stakeholders have been very active in the transition discussions, with in particular several positions of co-chairs of working groups held by Europeans. Several of these co-chairs joined us at a recent event on Internet Governance held by the European Internet Forum (EIF) in Brussels, where during his keynote intervention Fadi Chehade underscored how our region’s participation, with its vast experience in building collaborative institutions, has brought strong input into both the structural aspects of the transition, and the accountability and governance work.
The Multistakeholder model comes out of this process not just as the proven way of coordinating the management of critical Internet resources, but more importantly, it is reinforced as a crucial method for handling the complex, transnational endeavours of our global age.
Our community should be proud to have pioneered and evolved this system which drives successful global cooperation – a worthy direction for the future.
Originally posted on: ICANN blog
photo credit: Eric Fischer
2015 is going to be a busy year for the Internet – and not just in Brussels with the recent arrival of an ambitious new team of Commissioners but globally – with the evolution of Internet governance and the IANA functions Stewardship Transition.
It will be 10 years since the conclusion of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a 4 year long process held in two phases which produced a number of declarations and engagements, and created the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as well as the endorsement that governance of the Internet should be ‘multi-stakeholder’.
Initially the WSIS was to focus – rightly, many would say – on ‘bridging the digital divide’. But the more political discussions usual for a UN setting soon focused on the topic of Internet Governance: who rules the Internet? How can it be controlled?
And there was no clear conclusion on that.
[Tweet “This is because in fact, no one does control the Internet.”]
The running of the core functions behind the Internet is coordinated – a better word than ‘governed’ – by a distributed collaborative of processes, mechanisms, and organisations, each distinct and interdependent on one another.
The global and cross-border nature of the Internet challenges the concept of governance by only governments or groups of government. Partly, this is why these various governance processes have evolved organically to be both global and ‘multi-stakeholder’ in nature, resulting in a pioneering democratic effort to tackle these challenges in a novel approach. Many, and we at ICANN, consider the multistakeholder model to be the most effective, open and transparent structure.
So why is 2015 going to be busy?
Well a lot happened this year, paving the way for the unfolding of processes in 2015. The inevitable shift from dialogue to action. The Net Mundial conference of Sao Paulo in April 2014 in particular, came out of the realisation of the need to move to a next level in Internet Governance.
It gathered all stakeholders to draft and adopt through ‘rough consensus’ a series of important principles, starting with the respect of human rights and privacy online, and a roadmap for further improvements and evolutions of the system, including for the Internet Governance Forum, as well as a whole gamut of other aspects.
ICANN itself is in the middle of major evolution, with its globalization efforts, the transition of the IANA functions, together with a review on how to further enhance ICANN Accountability & Governance.
ICANN has gone into a major programme of globalisation over the last two years in particular, with the opening of two operational hubs in Istanbul and Singapore, so that we are able to serve the global Internet community at anytime, anywhere. Already about a third of ICANN’s staff is based internationally, and this is growing.
Likewise, we have embarked on a major effort of engagement of stakeholders around the world, to build capacity and encourage more participation from people from all over the world in ICANN.
We want to ensure that our community is representative of the global nature of the Internet; that is true for our staff, our stakeholders, our Board.
Then there is the topic, which has grabbed the headlines around the world this year: the intention to transition the US Government’s historic role of oversight of the core IANA functions, which ICANN administers, to ‘the global multi-stakeholder community’ by the end of September 2015.
At the end of the process, all those concerned with the Internet, from the technical community and governments to civil society, will have the equal responsibility for overseeing these key functions.
What the U.S. is actually doing is preparing to transition its stewardship of a narrow set of technical functions performed by ICANN within the Internet’s infrastructure to … you, as part of the global multistakeholder community.
The IANA functions include the allocation and maintenance of the unique codes and numbering systems of the Internet (such as Internet Protocol addresses).
The U.S. announcement in March 2014 set into motion two open, public processes. One is for the global Internet community to develop a proposal for this stewardship transition. The second effort is to enhance ICANN’s governance and accountability mechanisms in light of the US Government’s transition away from its stewardship role.
This is an important moment in the history of ICANN; a testament to how the organisation and its community have matured.
We now have a multi-stakeholder model of governance and operational mechanisms that are ready to function on their own, led by a community of stakeholders rather than a central, top-down authority, having demonstrated the efficient management and coordination of the Domain Name System by ICANN and the Internet technical community over the past 16 years.
ICANN’s mission is to maintain an open, singular and secure Internet. The global Internet is a unique tool that brings together mankind. It is incumbent upon us all to keep that way: open, unique and global.
Working on increased access to an open, global, interoperable and expanding Internet is good for business and national economies.
And the opposite is true: if we compartmentalise the Internet, we would lose the vast benefits of cross-border exchanges, trading, free flow of information and knowledge, etc. that come with it.
[Tweet “Today, the Internet and everything to do with it is undergoing an evolution.”]
Everybody knows the importance of the Internet – as individuals, as organisations, as societies and as nations, making understanding the current evolution process the more imperative to us all. 2015 will be all about this evolution and how best to serve the global community in relation to the next phase of Internet Governance.
We invite you to join us as a participant or an observer along any portion of this journey. This is how we will together sustain a global, unified Internet.
Visit www.icann.org/stewardship to get involved.