Whereas, ICANN accredited its first five registrars on 21 April 1999 <http://www.icann.org/announcements/icann-pr21apr99.htm>. Five years later, ICANN currently has 198 accredited registrars <http://www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html>.
Whereas, all of these registrars have been accredited pursuant to the same "Registrar Accreditation Policy," which was adopted by the Board at its meeting in Singapore on 4 March 1999 <http://www.icann.org/registrars/policy_statement.html>.
Whereas, the competitive registrar marketplace introduced by ICANN in 1999 has been successful in driving down prices to consumers and businesses for gTLD domain registrations.
Whereas, ICANN's core values include preserving stability and sustaining a competitive environment. ICANN needs to reassess whether its five-year old registrar accreditation policy is still well-suited to advance those values in today's environment. Accordingly, a review of the appropriateness of ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Policy in light of experience is overdue.
Whereas, any eventual modifications to ICANN's registrar policies will eventually have to come through the GNSO, since it is "responsible for developing and recommending to the ICANN Board substantive policies relating to generic top-level domains." (Bylaws Article X, Section 1) <http://www.icann.org/general/bylaws.htm#X>
Whereas, the Board is mindful that the GNSO currently has very limited support resources, and is facing a very heavy workload on issues including Whois, registry services, new TLDs, and the procedure for designating a successor operator for .net.
Whereas, the Board believes that it would be helpful to precede a GNSO policy development process by commissioning a study to gather facts and assess issues affecting the competitive registry-registrar marketplace and ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Policy.
Whereas, Bylaws Article XI-A <http://www.icann.org/general/bylaws.htm#XI-A> has been established "to allow the policy-development process within ICANN to take advantage of existing expertise that resides in the public or private sector but outside of ICANN. In those cases where there are relevant public bodies with expertise, or where access to private expertise could be helpful, the Board and constituent bodies should be encouraged to seek advice from such expert bodies or individuals." This provision of the Bylaws provides that "On its own initiative or at the suggestion of any ICANN body, the Board may appoint, or authorize the President to appoint, Expert Advisory Panels consisting of public or private sector individuals or entities."
Whereas, the anticipated fact gathering and issue assessment will precede and inform the work of the GNSO, not replace it. The GNSO still has primary responsibility for recommending substantive policies relating to gTLDs, but the Bylaws provide for this mechanism to contribute outside expertise where helpful.
Resolved [04.40] that pursuant to Bylaws Article XI-A.2(a), the Board directs staff to develop a recommendation for the appointment of an Expert Advisory Panel to gather facts and assess issues affecting the competitive registry-registrar marketplace and ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Policy.