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Last update: Sun Aug 17 22:48:44 CEST 2003





At IcannWatch, Ted Byfield has taken up my brief comments on the ERC's Second Implementation Report and its suggestions about the GA's future. Bad enough, Ted gets much of this wrong: The ERC does indeed move into the right direction, as I wrote.

First of all, when I say that the ERC is moving, then I have in mind from where it is coming: From the blueprint's recommendation that the GA should be (1) a cross-constituency meeting place and (2) moderated. In particular, the blueprint's GA does not provide for any participation by members of the general public; this is in line with the Names Council's recommendations on the matter. The second implementation report seems to say good-bye to this idea of a forum exclusively reserved to constituency members.

Second, what does moderation (or proper moderation) mean? When reading the second implementation report, it doesn't look like the ERC actually wants to get into micro-managing discussion lists. Thus, I'll take this not to be meant in the technical sense, but rather as "do what it takes to facilitate reasonablen discussions." That's an approach which I, at least, can certainly live with.

Third, what about the idea of having the ALAC sponsor a General Assembly? Assuming that the ultimate goal is to have a canonical forum for intelligent public debate about ICANN issues, this makes a whole lot of sense. While many may be skeptic about the ALAC's success, the perspective is certainly the right one - as long as there is some reasonable home for this kind of discussion in the mean time, and in the case that ALAC fails in one way or the other. The second implementation report actually provides for such an interim home, by basically saying that the GNSO should continue to maintain the current DNSO GA.

The single difference concerns the role of the GA's chair: Currently, this function actually shows up in ICANN's bylaws; in the future, it's most likely doomed to die. Instead, the second implementation report vaguely talks about list managers/moderators which would have to be appointed by the Names Council. Byfield emphasizes that power (such as it is, in this context) would be transferred from elected representatives to interim appointees - as if this was a change. It isn't. The current practice of letting the GA elect its chair isn't codified in the current ICANN bylaws, either - article VI-B section 2 (i) actually determines that The NC shall elect the Chairman of the GA annually.

Wrapping up, the new recommendations basically boil down to giving the status quo another chance, with the perspective that the GA is ultimately transferred to the responsibility of the ALAC, and with the desire for stronger moderation. Compare that to declaring the GA "closed shop" like in the blueprint and the Names Council's recommendations.

In my view, the most important questions which remain for the close future are these:

  • How can the General Assembly (and, later, the ALAC) participate directly in the Names Council's deliberations? Would it, for instance, be realistic to reserve space for an ALAC liaison on the Names Council, and to use (for instance) the GA chair as a placeholder for the time until ALAC is operational?
  • How can the General Assembly (and, later, the ALAC) participate directly in policy development?

Mon Sep 9 15:14:31 CEST 2002 #





This is the personal blog of Thomas Roessler.

It's mostly used for comments regarding ICANN, and matters of ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization and At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).