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Public Forum on GNSO Improvements - Sponsored by the Board Governance Committee
Monday, 26 March 2007, 16:00 - 18:00
ICANN Meeting, Corinthia Lisboa Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

What it is: This public forum, which is organized by the Board Governance Committee and is open to all interested individuals, provides the broad community with an opportunity for an in-depth discussion about improving the GNSO's structures and processes.

Why it's important: This forum enables stakeholders to provide input on fundamental changes to the GNSO that were recommended by the GNSO independent reviewer (the London School of Economics), as well as to offer their own advice on how this critical policy development body can be improved.

Who should attend: All individuals interested in how ICANN makes decisions that affect gTLDs.


The ICANN Board Governance Committee is hosting a public forum on Monday, 26 March, 16:00 - 18:00, to discuss "GNSO Improvements."

ICANN received an independent review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) prepared by the London School of Economics (LSE). This review, along with previous reviews and public input, will be used to inform ICANN's effort to develop detailed proposals for improving the GNSO's structures and processes. This independent review of the GNSO is the first in a series of such reviews mandated in ICANN's bylaws as part of ICANN's ongoing commitment to evolve and improve its operations. As part of the Board's ongoing efforts to work with the ICANN community to consider the GNSO review, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) is hosting Monday's forum to encourage additional public input and discussion. While input on all elements of the GNSO and the LSE review report are open for comment at the forum, the Committee is particularly interested in hearing your views on the GNSO review recommendations listed below. (Note that questions raised about the recommendations listed below are included to prompt thought and discussion, and are not intended to represent the views of the BGC or its members).

Individuals and stakeholder groups are encouraged to submit views on these recommendations in advance of the forum to <gnso-improvements@icann.org>. Authors of emailed input will be given an opportunity to present their views prior to opening the forum to comments from the floor.

  • Structural Changes to GNSO Constituencies -- LSE recommendation 19. Simplify the GNSO constituency structure in order to respond to rapid changes in the Internet, including by substituting 3 larger constituency groups representing Registration interests, Business, and Civil Society; LSE recommendation 18. Create a category of 'Associate Stakeholder' to establish a pool of available external expertise.
    • Which entities and individuals should participate in the GNSO process, and what will motivate them to want to join? The six current groups are the natural point to begin discussion. Do they represent the right groups? Are they over or under inclusive? The Bylaws acknowledge that the optimal groupings may be different than the ones that now exist, and that there is no "magic number." The LSE points out several problems with the current structure and suggests the substitution of three larger constituencies — is this the right answer?
    • Is it feasible to create a roster of readily available experts who can assist with task forces and other aspects of the PDP?
    • What other questions and approaches should the BGC explore regarding these two LSE recommendations?
  • Changes to the Policy Development Process -- LSE recommendation 17. Make greater use of task forces [in policy development processes]; LSE recommendation 23. Revise and move PDP operational provisions from Bylaws to more flexible GNSO 'Rules of Procedures.'
    • Could greater use of task forces, particularly proposals to attract more expertise and geographical diversity, help the policy development process? Would limiting the number of Councilors on any task force enable the Council to focus more on the task of managing PDPs, rather than the substantive aspects of formulating specific policies? Would this change increase the number of people willing to serve on the Council?
    • There seems to be widespread agreement that the Bylaws are overly prescriptive, and the prescribed PDP steps and timelines have not captured the requirements of a policy development process. Should the PDP principles be preserved in the Bylaws while placing more procedural elements in GNSO "rules of procedure'? Do you have specific suggestions for how the PDP should be revised?
    • What other questions and approaches should the BGC explore regarding these two LSE recommendations?
  • Changes to Voting and Representation -- LSE recommendation 21. Increase the threshold for establishing consensus to 75% and abolish weighted voting; LSE recommendation 20. Make the Council smaller (16 members suggested).
    • How would raising the consensus threshold and abolishing weighted voting advance the role of the GNSO? The Bylaws task the GNSO with both "developing and recommending" gTLD policies to the Board.
    • Weighted voting, in particular, was instituted as part of ICANN's Evolution and Reform Process to address the different effect policies have on contracted versus non-contracted constituencies. Has this approach contributed to, or hampered, effective policy development?
    • What other questions and approaches should the BGC explore regarding these two LSE recommendations?

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