Interim Report of the Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform
Posted: 29 April 2002

The report that appears below was sent to the ICANN Board on 20 April 2002 and discussed at its 22 April meeting. After the meeting, minor changes were made to accomodate questions and observations from Board members, and a draft was circulated under a 48-hour no-objection rule. It is published as an interim progress report vetted as described.

Chair’s Interim Report for April 20, 2002
Alejandro Pisanty


The Evolution and Reform Committee of ICANN was formed by resolution of the Board meeting in Accra, in March 2002. The Committee as appointed consisted of Directors Alejandro Pisanty (chair), Lyman Chapin, Phil Davidson, Hans Kraaijenbrink, and Nii Quaynor. It receives staff support and includes in its mailing list the Chairman of the Board, Vinton Cerf, and the President and CEO, also a Board member, Stuart Lynn.

Phil Davidson has made a valuable contribution to the organization of the Committee’s work, and left an extraordinarily useful survey of the questions before us and some sources of input. Unfortunately he has resigned from the Board and therefore also stopped acting in the committee.

Input Received

Mailing lists and forums

The Committee, thanks to Louis Touton, has a website and an e-mail address. The comments received are published on the ICANN forum web site, classified according to subject and nature. The URL for the submissions is http://forum.icann.org/reform-comments/ and can be visited by all.

Some discussions relevant to the committee’s work are also occurring in the At Large Study Committee’s public forum and the DNSO General Assembly. Although few substantive comments with concrete reform proposals have appeared in either, we monitor them constantly. Some committee members monitor a few other public sources of input, such as DNSO constituencies.

The Names Council is holding a series of meetings by teleconference, in a tight schedule, in order to develop promptly a position paper. We are made aware of their progress through the submission of drafts by e-mail. While we do not participate in the Names Council discussion, we do keep tabs in order to follow not only the conclusions stated in the position paper, but the reasoning and the participation of different members and constituencies.

The committee website records some submissions which look extensively and in depth at the structural and functional issues of reform. Among them mention may be made of the “Heathrow Declaration”, a submission by New.net, and very few others.

The ITU has availed itself of the public forums as well as other venues to make known a proposal. While again not a structural or functional proposal, it deserves careful reading both of the explicit text and the text between the lines.

Direct mail

We are also receiving some e-mail directly at our personal e-mail addresses. Some of it has been valuable, such as a framework by Ian Peter (Australia) to analyze stakeholders, what they stand to gain, and what they fear, and two notes by Ms. Ana Vasconcelos which help understand a number of crucial, general issues.

Unfortunately here, too, the proposals and discussions that can actually be incorporated into the reform process are scarce. One significant point to mention is that a number of privately directed communications are far more supportive of Stuart Lynn’s reform proposal and directly related views than some of the public forums would lead one to believe.

Other input

There are varied reports by e-mail and on phone calls of a number of goings-on. A grouping that has called itself the NGO e-commerce forum met in Washington, DC, with U.S. Department of Commerce officials. At least two of the people present were James Love (Consumer Project on Technology) and Danny Younger (DNSO General Assembly), and have given brief reports of the meeting.

There is a telephone meeting with members of the IPC (Intellectual Property Constituency of the DNSO) scheduled for this week. A telephone meeting with the Names Council has also been scheduled for this week, for A. Pisanty and Stuart Lynn. I would suggest that participation is invited for both.

S. Lynn and V. Cerf have been engaging in a number of public conversations which bear on the reform process and which they have made the committee aware of in full. We have also held a conversation with the GAC Chair and Vice-chairs in order to gather a sense of their thinking and action.

Amsterdam Meeting

The Committee scheduled a face-to-face meeting in Amsterdam for the first weekend of April 2002. Unfortunately due to force majeure two members could not attend (A. Pisanty and N. Quaynor), and P. Davidson announced his resignation immediately before. Therefore the meeting was held with the attendance of Lyman Chapin, Hans Kraaijenbrink, and Joe Sims representing Stuart Lynn/ICANN senior staff, due to the concurrent meeting with Latin American ccTLDs S. Lynn was attending. A. Pisanty had partial participation through e-mail.

The meeting was very valuable, going exhaustively into a fresh analysis of S. Lynn’s reform proposal and identifying key questions to be answered in progress of the reform process. The committee is now considering these matters together with the input described above and the additional input expected in the coming days and weeks.

Progress So Far

A number of issues have been discussed in public, related to S. Lynn’s reform paper. The majority of these discussions are still far from conclusive. A quick, personal, idiosyncratic report would be as follows:

Mission. Some discussion is on record related to ICANN’s mission. The Names Council has been analyzing the staff paper on “what ICANN does”; there seems to be general (though not unanimous) agreement with the tasks listed there, and expressions that a more general mission statement should be established for guidance.

At Large participation. A drive for the At Large Membership continues to take place. An effort in which Esther Dyson and Pindar Wong have had participation, a related one in which Joop Teernstra and Vittorio Bertola have had some leadership, etc., are vying for the continuation of efforts to organize at large members, quoting the Accra resolution to encourage such activity.

Participation by governments. While this tends to be the first issue in most lists, and one attracting the most intense discussion, the conclusions are still not forthcoming. Some people, usually connected to grass-roots efforts, have had favorable expressions to the participation of governments in ICANN decision-making, as a way to guarantee accountability to the community at large. Serious difficulties are pointed at both by governmental participants and by others; they are concerned more with the feasibility of obtaining direct government participation in processes and in funding. This track of thought has led to an activation of proposals that would give the ITU a preponderant role.

Funding. The question of funding has been discussed in a very limited extent, outside the discussion on government participation. There have been some expressions in favor of splitting costs in a fixed and a variable (or per-service) part, and some in favor of a per-domain fee. There is a serious need of wider, elaborate thought on this issue, particularly from parties that could be considered responsible for funding ICANN, and/or those who obtain a financial gain from its proper functioning.

Policy-formulation bodies. There has as yet been limited discussion of the replacement of the Supporting Organizations as binding participants and providers of policy input for Forums. A number of expressions either point to the disappearance or the continuation of the PSO, and, in a more positive manner, to the continuation of the ASO which is also shown as an example of something that works well in ICANN. A number of SO members have expressed that they do not “need Board seats” but will demand a structure that makes sure their voices can be heard.

Nominating Committee. Another set of discussions, limited in extent at least up to now, have been concerned with the setup, composition, and operation of the Nominating Committee proposed by S. Lynn. It will be useful to monitor, and if possible attract, more quality, structured thought about this subject.

Oversight. Finally, the discussion of independent oversight over ICANN has had some place of its own. Its visibility has been enhanced by the fact that Ethan Katsh, a U.S. based law professor, has filed a reconsideration request for the decision to not continue the Independent Review Panel and remand it to the Evolution and Reform Committee.


The coming weeks should see an intensification of input and discussion. The Committee may need to become more engaged in public discussions, without taking positions in any way final or which can prejudice the outcome of its work, but which may be required in order to clarify, structure, and enrich the input it obtains.

Obtaining input from fellow Directors and from people they can call upon is now vital. The dialogues of the following weeks with the Names Council and some DNSO constituencies will surely begin to cause public discussion, in which the Board must become involved.


I wish to warmly thank Louis Touton and ICANN staff for setting up webpage, mailing lists, forwarding documents, and general, very valuable assistance and support.

Respectfully submitted,

Alejandro Pisanty

20 April 2002

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