GAC Communique, ICANN 54, Future gTLD Rounds, CCWG Stress Test 18

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) meeting at ICANN54 in Dublin, issued its GAC Dublin 54 Communiqué [PDF, 169 KB].on October 21, 2015. Two of the many issues covered by the communique were future gTLD rounds (new generic top-level domains) and Stress Test 18 (relating to CCWG-Accountability's work)(emphasis added):

Future gTLD Rounds
"The GAC advises the Board that: i. before defining the modalities for future rounds, a rigorous assessment of all public policy related aspects of the current round should be undertaken, taking into account the advice given by the GAC on this subject since the beginning of the New gTLD process, including advice relating to community-wide engagement on the issues of communication to and access by developing countries and regions; and advice regarding past policy decisions taken by the Board to reserve the Red Cross and Red Crescent designations and names. In this regard, the GAC expects that those elements of the current framework for new gTLDs that are considered appropriate by the GAC will remain and that the elements that are not considered satisfactory will be improved for subsequent rounds."

Stress Test 18
"Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability): The GAC recognizes that much progress has been made by the CCWG-Accountability in its ongoing work, and welcomes the CCWG’s achievements to date and supports the efforts to finalise its proposal for enhancing ICANN accountability as required for the IANA stewardship transition. In assessing the specific accountability recommendations put forth so far by the CCWG-Accountability, the GAC considers that whatever the final outcome of this process may be, the new accountability framework to be agreed upon must preserve the current role of governments in ICANN. The discussions on Stress Test 18 have helped the GAC to have a better understanding of the different views on the issue. In assessing the different rationales presented so far related to Stress Test 18, the GAC considered:
• The need that each and every Advisory Committee ensures that the advice provided is clear and reflects the consensus view of the Committee; 
• The need that each and every Advisory Committee should preserve its own autonomy in its definition of consensus; 
• The value the Board attributes to receiving consensus advice; 
• The recommendation of the BGRI WG, as reiterated by the ATRT2, to set the threshold for the ICANN Board to reject GAC advice to a 2/3 majority voting, consistent with the threshold established for rejection of ccNSO and GNSO PDP recommendations." 

"In view of the above, having considered concerns expressed by various parties, the GAC agreed to further work on the issue of Stress Test 18, and to submit any further input to the CCWG taking into account the timelines of the CCWG. GAC Members will continue to work within the CCWG to finalise the proposal for enhancing ICANN accountability." (emphasis added)

Editor's Note: CCWG-Accountability has proposed changes to ICANN bylaws related to CCWG's Stress Test 18: "Governments in ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) amend their operating procedures to change from consensus decisions to majority voting for advice to ICANN’s board. Consequence: Under current bylaws, ICANN must consider and respond to GAC advice, even if that advice were not supported by consensus. A majority of governments could thereby approve GAC advice that restricted free online expression, for example." Bylaw changes have been proposed by CCWG-Accountability to prevent such an outcome.


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