GNSO Review Terms of Reference
Background Documents

1. Introduction

This document collects in one place all the necessary documents for considering the Terms of Reference for the GSNO Review. It should be read in conjunction with the more detailed Terms of Reference document.

2. Background Documents

The By-Laws provide the ultimate basis for and most useful information which can be used to inform this process. The question components have been devised on the basis of these Articles. A reference to the most recent GNSO Council review is also provided. The ICANN website also has other background information on the evolution and reform process.

Article I: Mission and Core Values

Article III: Transparency

Article X: Generic Names Supporting Organization

Annex A: GNSO Policy Development Process

GNSO Council review terms of reference (approved by Board 18 Oct 2004)

GNSO Council Review 2004 Report (22 Dec 2004)

3. ICANN's Operational Objectives

The objectives are organized according to the ICANN mission described in the Strategic Plan. In brief, these objectives are to ensure the stability and security of the DNS; promote competition; support the policy making role of the supporting organizations and advisory committees and conduct outreach to promote education and use concerning the DNS.

These operational objectives are paired closely with ICANN's Core Values which include:

4. Seeking and supporting broad, informed participation reflecting the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet at all levels of policy development and decision-making.

5. Where feasible and appropriate, depending on market mechanisms to promote and sustain a competitive environment.

6. Introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest.

7. Employing open and transparent policy development mechanisms that (i) promote well-informed decisions based on expert advice, and (ii) ensure that those entities most affected can assist in the policy development process.

8. Making decisions by applying documented policies neutrally and objectively, with integrity and fairness.

4. GNSO Council Review 2004 - Recommendations

The independent review of the GNSO Council conducted towards the end of 2004 focussed on:

(i) policy achievements
(ii) outreach, geographical diversity and transparency
(iii) Policy Development Process timeline
(iv) Staff Support for Policy Development
(v) Policy implementation and compliance
(vi) Demand based raising of policy issues
(vii) Voting pattern
(viii) Number of constituency representatives
(ix) Communication to the ICANN community

The report concluded that the Council has worked effectively on issues that are important to the constituencies that comprise the GNSO. While there are undoubtedly ways of improving the efficiency of the process, the Council has made a significant contribution to the ICANN policy process over the last two years.

GNSO Council self-review recommendations Independent review recommendations
(matching & extra recommendations)
1 Changes to bylaws  
1(a) Maintain 3 reps per constituency (10.1.1) Board should change bylaws to allow 3 reps from each constituency. (Rec. 19)
1(b) Allow PDP flexibility on timelines (10.1.2)

Revise PDP to acknowledge different time frames for different policy issues.(Rec. 5)

Formalise different steps of the process:

  • Scoping phase
  • Policy work
  • Report to Council on milestones
  • Final report & public comment period
  • Council vote (Rec. 5)

2 Staff resources / PDP  
2(a) ICANN staff / independent expert to do analysis and issues papers on new issues before policy development starts. (10.2.1)  
2(b) Independent experts may report on GNSO community views during public comment process. (10.2.2)  
2(c) Staff support to sub-committees & task forces, identify areas of disagreement. (10.2.3)  
2(d) Staff support to task forces and sub-committees on bylaws, PDPs & previous GNSO council work. (10.2.4)  

2(e) Make legal counsel available for all GNSO Council calls and make legal counsel available to task forces and sub-committees as needed.

Brief legal council on relevant existing contractual arrangements. (10.2.5)

"The issue is not whether the General Counsel is on every call, but rather that legal advice can be obtained when needed." (p. 16)

Establish clear channels for request & provision of legal opinion, including legal input at the scoping phase. Where possible, establish 'check points' for further input as part of the scoping study. (Rec. 11)

Council to ensure viability of implementation of recommendations it makes to the Board. (Rec. 12)

Council needs built-in review of effectiveness of polices recommended to the Board. (Rec. 15)

2(f) Have final policy recommendations reviewed by legal counsel for implementation and enforcement via contracts. (10.2.6)  
2(g) Hire staff policy support person. (Rec. 8)
2(h) Effective handover from current policy support person to new one. (Rec. 9)

Establish service level agreement between GNSO & ICANN management on support for GNSO. (Rec. 10)

Meet quarterly to review performance measures of SLA and report to President. (Rec. 10)

2(k) Use the Ombudsman as source of complaints on issues that should be addressed through the PDP. (Rec. 16)
3 Policy implementation and compliance  
3(a) Have project management process with plan and dates for implementation of policies. (10.2.7)  
3(b) Put in place monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for new policies, especially in 1st 6 months. (10.2.8) Put in place a compliance function. (Rec. 13)
Develop compliance policy with graded penalties. (Rec. 14)
3(c) Develop a complaints handling process for gTLD registration practices that can also produce monthly trend data. (10.2.9)  
4 GNSO Council  
4(a) Encourage submissions from community in early public comment process. (10.3.1)

Develop formal process for seeking input of other ICANN organizations. (Rec. 6)

Consider how to use liaisons with other parts of ICANN - 'role descriptions' or 'partnership agreements' may help. (Rec. 2)

To speed up consensus process, consider more face time on issues at meetings and possible use of facilitators. (Rec. 7)

4(b) Get ICANN legal advice in writing and allow affected parties to submit their own written legal advice. (10.3.2)  
4(c) Ensure policy is ready for implementation after approval by GNSO Council & the Board. (10.3.3)  
4(d) Council report at end of PDP to include metrics to measure success of the policy, and measurement and reporting systems to be put in place. (10.3.4)  
5 Nominating Committee  
5(a) Explore ways for NomCom to add value to Council process. (Rec. 17)
5(b) Council should draft role descriptions NomCom for optimally effective Council members. (Rec. 18)
6 Outreach & Communication  
6(a) Expand & enhance outreach for consensus-based policy development, geographical diversity and transparency. (Rec. 1)
6(b) Consider how to use liaisons with other parts of ICANN - 'role descriptions' or 'partnership agreements' may help. (Rec. 2)
6(c) Develop a plan to increase representation from all regions. (Rec. 3)
6(d) To help non-English speakers participate in Council, consider more face time at ICANN meetings and translation of key documents. (Rec. 4)
6(e) Overhaul GNSO website. (Rec. 20)

The report also stated:

One issue which come up in many of the interviews was concern about the representativeness of the constituencies. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the constituency representatives and members were concerned that constituencies other than their own were not truly representative of the groups that they claim to represent. This issue is beyond the scope of this review which is focused on the GNSO Council, not the GNSO as a whole. It is however, an extremely significant issue. The review of the GNSO as a whole will need to investigate whether each of the constituencies is truly representative of "the interests globally of the stakeholder communities it purports to represent" as required in the bylaws.

A somewhat related issue is the size of the interest group from which the GNSO draws its participants and therefore its Council members. The problems with which the GNSO grapples are important for all users of the Internet, although most would not know this. The total number of people who take part in GNSO deliberations is small compared to the number of people who will be impacted by the decisions. A review of the GNSO should investigate ways of increasing the number of people who are involved in constituencies and therefore in the GNSO process.

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