ICANN Open Forum at IGF 2015: IANA, Globalization, Accountability, Trust

Video above: IGF2015 Day 2: ICANN Open Forum

ICANN OPEN FORUM Transcript, IGF2015, Nov 11, 2015: "The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in João Pessoa, Brazil. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record."

Transcript excerpts (for full transcript go to link above)(emphasis added):

DR. STEVE CROCKER (ICANN Board Chairman):  Good morning, everybody.  It's a pleasure to be here.  The ability and the pleasure of being here is that among other things, Brazil is a country that fervently backs the multi   that so many of us view as a model for internet governance.  We're forever looking forward to the future as I mentioned last year's meeting in Istanbul.  Let's take a minute and look back briefly at the events of the past year.

First of all, about the IGF, we're pleased that WSIS + 10 review draft UN resolution released last week called for an extension of the IGF for another 10 years.  That's great.  Major point of discussion of the meeting and one of the big accomplishments. The draft resolution also recognizes the need for all stakeholders to engage in dialogue in Internet Governance issues, which is of course what the IGF's all about.

ICANN has consistently been a strong supporter of the IGF since its inception, increased its support over the past 10 years; and it views IGF as a positive example for stimulating constructive dialogue on Internet topics on global multistakeholder community.  We're active in IGF at all leaves east, presenting in the dialogue and initiatives presented threw these forums.  We applaud both on the regional and national levels to garner stakeholders in the development in the developing world.  This year ICANN participated in the eighth Latin American Caribbean IGF August 2015 in Mexico.  IGF called you are oh dig in Sophia, the 11th Caribbean IGF August 2015 in Trinidad and Tobago and the fourth Africa IGF in September 2015 in Ethiopia.

Quite a lot of attention has been focused on the transition of the IANA stewardship and the accountability process.  These have occupied quite a lot of our attention and everyone else's during the past year. It was a featured session at last year's IGF in Istanbul and is featured in a main session of a number of workshops here.

The IGF community was clear that accountability and the IANA transition go hand in hand.  The community's participation thus far has been extraordinary.  At ICANN we have calculated that the staff and Board Members have participated in an estimated 860 or so events around the world where IANA stewardship or enhancing were discussed, debated, organized or planned between March 2014 and October 2015 this year.  That's equivalent of almost 45 events per month.  We're thinking of taking on our own radio station "all ICANN transition all the time." [Laughter]

Of these events, roughly 520 were joined through global webinars or calls, while an additional 345 were attended in person, spanning over 87 countries around the world.  That's not enough numbers.  I have some more for you. Roughly 300 people have been involved with the working groups.  More than 40 meetings have been held.  And there have been 25,000 or so mailing list exchanges just on the accountability mailing list. While we're able to track more closely the number of events that ICANN staff and Board have participated in, there have been countless people around the world participating in both you numbering processes coordinated by the regional Internet registries and the protocol parameter processes coordinated by the IGF via phone calls.  That's a lot of participation.

These have not all been dry.  There have been some spirited discussions surrounding the transition at the ICANN meeting in Dublin.  And by spirited, I'm sure most of us understand that that means a lot of Guinness and Jamisons, as well. In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, the cross community Working Group on accountability and the IANA coordination group, the ICG, reached significant results.  The latter, the ICG finalised its IANA stewardship proposal dependent upon the outstanding dependencies on the naming CWG stewardship and CCWG there will be a test to see if you get all these acronyms.  The CCWG made real tangible progress in Dublin on many of their outstanding recommendations, notably deciding to focus on developing the sole designator as the legal enforcement mechanism for their new community powers.

It's very important that people stay involved.  We know it's been a long process, but the CCWG's getting close and continued engagement and participation will be the key.  The CCWG accountability will launch a 35 day public comment on their third draft of work stream 1 recommendations beginning 15 November.  That's this Sunday until 21 December.  At the launch, the CCWG will launch a 20 to 30 page high level overview of the proposal, a summary of the key changes from the previous draft and documentation on how the proposal meets both the CWG and the NTIA requirements.  Approximately 15 days into the public comment, that's at the end of this month, the CCWG will then release the full indepth proposal including appendices and process documentation.

Pending no major changes or concerns raised in the public comments, the CCWG accountability aims to submit a proposal to the ICANN Board by mid January 2016I'm often asked what will the Board do with that?  The Board is committed to transmitting the proposal unchanged. We have reserved the right, as is part of the process, to add whatever comments we want to add.  We have inserted well in advance that we won't add any contents that is not what we have previously discussed.  And it is our firm intent and hope that we will be entirely supportive of the proposal, that we'll be able to turn it around very quickly and to NTIA that it can be reported.  That's the hope.

This group more than most realises that the coming year will be a significant one in the history of Internet Governance.  It's important that we realize the process we're currently undertaking and it is an important part as the destination will be ultimately reached.  I mentioned in Dublin the manner in which we reached that destination will ultimately define us.  My hope is that we remain one of inclusivity and transparency.

Globalization at ICANN:

FADI CHEHADÉ (ICANN CEO):  Globalization at ICANN works on four levels.  At the first level is operational globalization.  And I think the record of the last three, four years shows that ICANN has become, in many ways, operationally global.  First we divided our Headquarters into three global hubs, one in Los Angeles serving north and South America, one in Istanbul serving Europe, Middle East and Africa, and one in Singapore, serving Asia and Oceana.  So by splitting the Headquarters into these three hubs, we were able to also split the main operational functions of ICANN whilst not too long ago, for example, all the legal staff of ICANN was in Los Angeles, trained in U.S. law, we now have legal staff around the hubs so that we can understand and work with our local communities around the world.

We also have globalised our support in this area.  Today, for the first time in ICANN's history, 24 hours a day, 5 days a week anyone can call an ICANN line and get support in all the UN languages plus Portuguese, plus Turkish and get help and support into the ICANN operations. We have also partnering with certain communities very successfully, for example, in South Korea. We are working with the local community to localise our materials.  And this is not just about translation of what we do.  This is also in preparing briefs in local languages that help the people in that region understand what we're doing and contribute to what we're doing.  This initiative in South Korea is being copied in other places.

We have also globalised our expertise.  I was just in Cairo on Thursday where we announced the first DNS entrepreneurship centre in the world, in partnership with the Egyptian community.  It is already held    it has already held 12 workshops training more than 100 people in that region on issues of DNS business, issues of DNS law and policy, issues of technical matters.  So these are the things we do to take our expertise and our operations and take them to the world. So that's the operational globalization.

The next level of globalization is to make sure that at the geopolitical level ICANN is viewed by the world as an organisation, as a community, as an institution that is accepted to be serving the world, not serving any one community.  And I think the work of the last few years also demonstrates, without question, that starting here, in fact, in Brazil, in April 2014, how the Brazilian government embraced ICANN and the multistakeholder model and allowed us to move forward with their blessing and with their support to continue the work we've been doing for over 16 years.

Following that, the Chinese government, which for a long time was still searching for its place and role in ICANN, announced at the ICANN meeting in London in June 2014, at the highest level, first time ever in an ICANN meeting, that China is also supportive of one Internet for the world with ICANN and its partners, the IETF and the regional Internet registries coordinating the affairs of the unique protocol identifiers.

And then most recently, and really the cherry on top for us, was India's move at the Buenos Aires meeting in June 2015 where His Excellency, Minister Prasad sent us a powerful message how this great message of India, an India that is rooted in democratic, open policies that we all support and embrace, is now joining the global community in its support for ICANN and its role as the coordinator of the unique protocol identifiers.  These are geopolitical shifts that happened at ICANN meetings, giving ICANN the geopolitical presence that it needs.  And this train continues now with more and more countries as we've signed tens of MOUs in the last four years supporting our role as the coordinator of those functions.  That's the second level of globalization.

The third level of globalization was to make sure that ICANN itself is independent.  You cannot claim that you're global if your affairs are viewed or perceived as being either overseen or controlled by one party.  And I think it's pretty clear that the United States Government has had a very fruitful partnership with us for many years; however, the time for a unique role for any one government is done.  And I think all of us who have worked so hard over the last two years to finish this phase of our life and to bring to the end the fruitful partnership we've had with the U.S. government and to give ICANN the global independence that it needs is now.  And I'm confident, I'm sure many of you are around this table and around this room, that we will finish this project next year, and we will end up with an ICANN that the whole world can see serving everyone without the particular influence of any one group or one party or one government or anyone, but serving the public interest.

And, finally, to close, there's a fourth element to globalization.  And that's globalising the DNA of a community and of an organisation.  And that's the toughest one.  I was involved in the 2008 timeframe in the globalisation of a big chunk of the ICANN global services organizations, and I remember how easy it was to build offices around the world, put people around the world.  Today ICANN has 30 locations.  It's the easy part.  Building the globalization is the easy part.  The difficult part is to make everyone not just the ICANN staff or the ICANN board, but the ICANN community change the DNA of this organisation to understand our global role and to understand that the billions of people we're adding to the Internet today do not even have a Latin keyboard.  It's a brand New World.  And the world is large.  And the world is complex.  But the Internet is for everyone. And if ICANN is to maintain its globalisation, we cannot simply say we have people in 30 countries or 30 locations; we have to say "we think locally.  We may act globally, but we think, we understand our communities.  We cannot continue to be caught thinking with a U.S. centric or western centric frame. We have to think like the world and we do this by engaging and listening and participating.  And I think we're on the way to get there.  This is a non stop mission.  And I know that ICANN is committed to this.  So thank you very much. 

Question from Peter Dengate Thrush: ... I suppose the question for Fadi is having set those up, what do you see as the next set of challenges and continuing that?  Do you see more offices?  Do you see more people or some other way forward?  I know you're going to be leaving shortly, but if you were to look back in three years' time, what would you hope would have been achieved in that period?

FADI CHEHADÉ: I do not believe that the next three years will require a major further expansion of ICANN and its size or staff. Quite the opposite. I made the commitment, as you know, to start slowing down the growth of ICANN. And we are on track. We have slowed down the growth last year and this year again and next year to make sure the growth kind of levels where we are. In terms of specifics, I do believe we before I leave, I hope we will complete the strategy and the implementation of adding one more engagement centre in Africa. That's something I'm hoping we can get done. Right now, if you look at the ICANN presence map, quite frankly, besides Baher in Egypt, it's a little bit lacking. So we will address that. And the community is now in dialogue to help us figure out how to do this.

I do believe the central theme of the next three years will be set by our Board and my successor, who will hopefully be named early next year. But my sense of this and I haven't thought about this, so I'm being direct with you here is that what ICANN needs to focus on in the next three years is trust, is strengthening the trust in our organisation. And it starts at home of the it starts building the trust between us and making sure that the parts of our community feel that we're working together. We've been rightfully battling. A little bit of mistrust is always good, as professor Hofmann told me yesterday, it's good because then we check on each other. But we need to find that balanced middle ground. And the institution, the community and everything we do has to strengthen that trust so that also when people come from outside for the first time, they see us as a community that may battle, but at the end of the day there is trust in this community. And you've built it when you were at the helm. We continue to build it. And I believe that the next phase will be very important, even more important because we are though now an independent organisation, and the world will need to trust us to do what we do and do it well, inclusively, openly. So I really hope that we don't lose that momentum, that we continue in that direction. And I'm confident, by the way, everything I see in the Board's activities to prepare the new CEO and to prepare for a new CEO is very assuring and reassuring. And I'm confident ICANN will continue in its trajectory.

Question from Steve DelBianco with NetChoice and the ICANN Business Constituency:  Fadi, even if we were on a boat in the middle of the ocean, I realize that it isolates the employees from those regimes; but we do create policies and enforce contracts that affect registrants and users all over the world, and therefore those activities are subject to the laws of the countries where those registrants and users live.  So the speaker who asked the question might have thought that putting employees into country means that ICANN has to ensure that the laws of that country are respected, but that's the case anyway, whether the employees are there or not.  There are special concerns about employees, but they don't suddenly increase the need to pay attention to laws. And, Fadi, your answer to Peter about ICANN's evolution used the word "trust" many, many times and I'm not even sure how that would translate into all the languages we work with.  But in the accountability transition track, I don't really know that trust was at the nub of coming up with the community accountability mechanisms.  It's more about the community if it disagrees with the management and Board's interpretation of some very fluid concepts like fiduciary duty, global public interest.  These are concepts that are difficult to nail down.  And there may be instances where the community as a consensus comes together and says" respectfully, Board, we don't agree with how you've interpreted your fiduciary duty on this. "And that is why the community powers are designed.  And that disagreement has nothing to do with trust, right?  It has to do with a different perspective.  When you're on the board, when the people move from this side of the table to the Board they are now have more of a duty to the corporation than they did before and it's a broad duty to the public interest of the community. So it's not about trust as much as it is about disagreement of interpretation and I think that helps to take the temperature down because we didn't really have a trust problem as much as a disagreement issue.

FADI CHEHADÉ:  When I speak about trust, I'm not speaking about trust between individuals. You and I trust each other and know our intentions are good.  I'm speaking about institutional trust.  So everything the community has done to strengthen accountability increases the trust in the institution. These things are very congruent and I think we're aligned.  That the community putting the right checks and balances within this institution and the community is precisely what makes anyone looking at us from the outside say "this is a trustworthy institution and community because they check on each other, they have a healthy dose of mistrust between part of the organization that allows them, then, to check on each other." So I think the work on accountability is in many ways a tremendous boost for in making ICANN a trustworthy institution in community.  And, frankly, I know the role you and many around the table have played, Jonathan and others, and, frankly, history will show that this is what made ICANN a better place and a more trustworthy place. 

Comment from Veni Markovski, ICANN's Vice President from UN Engagement: ... The globalization efforts are positively accepted at the United Nations. Through the work of ICANN, GAC participation but also ICANN has government engagement team people in EURIC of and Geneva. This allows us to share knowledge about ICANN and what it does to all UN agencies and to the permanent missions to the UN as well as the knowledge about UN and its Internet relationship work to ICANN. This bidirectional constant communication is a good example of how the Internet has changed in the last few years.

When Will the IANA Transition Be Finished?

FADI CHEHADÉSo just to remind you history wise. The transition was announced on March 14th at 2:30:00 p.m. U.S. Pacific time in 2014. That's when it was announced. That's when the train started. So it's been, let's say, a little less than two years. The community has been working very hard to get a proposal ready for the U.S. government to review and to grant us the end of this stewardship, the contract, essentially. At the moment, expectations are and I'm going to either hear people stand up and yell at me or agree with me is that we will give the U.S. government the proposal sometime in mid January 2016. Any disagreement from those who are driving the bus? Because I'm not driving the bus. Plus or minus. Add a couple of weeks here or there, let's say mid January 2016. And then the U.S. government has to consume this proposal.  They have to study it, to review it.  At the end of that process, the U.S. government should either say they're okay with the proposal or they're not okay with the proposal.  The expectation is that that will happen sometime in the March/April/May timeframe.  So the U.S. government has always said they need 60 to 90 days to do that.  So if you add 60 to 90 days to mid January, then you're looking at mid March to mid April.  That's at least the current plan. And then after that, we are just implementing the proposal.  And at the moment, our community has looked at the implementation and believe that we will complete it on time before the contract expires on the 30th of September, 2016.  Naturally.  The contract will expire naturally at that point. If we're not done, or if the implementation is not done, then 30 days or so prior to September 30th, 2016, the U.S. government could either in agreement with us or unilaterally extend the contract further.  At the moment, no one is expecting this will occur, but it could and that's what we're working against. I hope we answered your question and thanks for your patience through the process.  We're working hard to get it done.

See also on Domain MondoIGF 2015 Workshop on the IANA Stewardship Transition (video)


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