on At Large Study Implementation
on Implementation of Article II, Section 5 of ICANN Bylaws, calling
for an At Large Study
In Yokohama, the Board adopted changes
to its bylaws (Article II) dealing with At Large membership issues.
The new bylaw provisions include Section 5, which reads as follows:
"Section 5. Study of "At Large"
Beginning immediately following the conclusion
of the Annual Meeting of the Corporation in 2000, the Corporation
shall initiate a comprehensive study of the concept, structure
and processes relating to an "At Large" membership
for the Corporation. The study shall be structured so as to allow
and encourage the participation of organizations worldwide, and
shall be a "clean sheet" study -- meaning that previous
decisions and conclusions regarding an "At Large" membership
will be informative but not determinative, and that the study
will start with no preconceptions as to a preferred outcome.
The study shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the
following issues, taking into account the limited technical and
administrative responsibilities of ICANN:
Whether the ICANN Board should include
"At Large" Directors;
If so, how many such Directors there should
How any such "At Large" Directors
should be selected, including consideration of at least the following
options: selection by an "At Large" membership; appointment
by the existing Board; selection or appointment by some other
entity or entities; and any combination of those options;
If selection by an "At Large"
membership is to be used, the processes and procedures by which
that selection will take place; and
What the appropriate structure, role and
functions of an "At Large" membership should be.
The Board shall establish, by the Annual
Meeting in 2000, a process and structure for the study that will
enable it to meet the following deadlines:
a. The results of the study should be presented
to the Board no later than the second quarterly meeting of the
Corporation in 2001;
b. The Board shall review the study, and
propose for public comment whatever actions it deems appropriate
as a result of the study, on a schedule that would permit the
Board to take final action on the study no later than the Annual
Meeting of the Corporation in 2001; and
c. Any actions taken by the Board as a
result of the study that require the selection of any "At
Large" Directors should be implemented on a schedule that
will allow any new "At Large" Directors to be seated
no later than the conclusion of the Annual Meeting of the Corporation
Because of the volume of work required
by the TLD application process, the staff has not until now been
able to produce a suggested template for the At Large study called
for by Section 5. What follows is a suggested approach based
on the staff's best judgment of the kind of study that has the
potential to produce the desired result: a solution to this
problem that will enjoy broad consensus support throughout the
For the benefit of those who have not followed
this issue closely, it may be useful to set forth the following
explanation, so as to place the staff recommendation in proper
ICANN is a consensus development body.
Its Supporting Organizations are charged with the development
of policy recommendations in their respective areas of expertise.
ICANN's mission is narrowly (and properly) circumscribed, but
even within those boundaries its actions can affect in various
ways the whole community of Internet users. Thus, it has been
assumed from the time of ICANN's creation that there must be
some mechanism for the Internet community as a whole to provide
input and accountability to ICANN -- and to help to more broadly
legitimize the decisions and actions of what is a unique non-governmental
The method by which this participation
should take place has been the subject of quite contentious debate
since even before the creation of ICANN. Notwithstanding very
considerable discussion and analysis inside and outside ICANN
over the two years since ICANN was created, it is apparent that
there is still today no general consensus on this issue among
the broad Internet community.
II. The Problem is Complex, but its
Solution is Essential to Continued Progress by ICANN.
Within the Internet community, there are a range of very diverse
views on how ICANN should be structured and operated, ranging
from an emphasis by some on broad global democratic procedures
to other views that favor leaving ICANN to be governed by those
with the requisite expertise over what are described as the narrow
technical and administrative tasks of ICANN. In addition, there
are serious mechanical issues; no matter where on the policy
spectrum one falls, all participants in the debate are interested
in avoiding fraud, abuse or capture by determined minorities.
Even this brief and very general statement of the issues illustrates
how complex this problem is, and explains why arriving at a consensus
solution has proven to be extremely difficult.
Still, no matter how difficult the problem, it must be solved.
ICANN depends for its success and ultimately its existence on
the voluntary cooperation of independent actors (including root
server operators, ISPs, name and address registry operators,
and registrars) in the Internet community around the world.
ICANN has no weapons; it has no coercive power. Its ability
to carry out its mission over the long term requires broad global
consensus and broad global support. It also depends on the continued
acquiescence of the world's governments in the notion that an
private sector entity like ICANN can best manage this critical
resource. Continued controversy over the proper role and function
of the general Internet community in ICANN's decision-making
processes is not helpful to these objectives.
Finally, it seems logically inescapable
that the general Internet community should have some appropriate
input into ICANN policy decisions, since those decisions surely
can affect their ability to use the Internet in many different
ways. There may be a very legitimate debate on the form that
community input should take, but there should be no debate that
some appropriate form of general Internet community input must
ICANN is engaged in an organizational and
development process that has produced significant progress since
its creation two years ago. Assuming decisions on TLD issues
at this meeting, it will have taken some action on each of the
specific objectives set forth for it in the White Paper. Not
all of ICANN's structural and organizational issues have been
completely solved, but on all of them, with the obvious exception
of the At Large problem, great progress has been or is being
Unfortunately, it is hard to see that any
real progress has been made on this problem since ICANN's creation.
To some extent, this issue seems to provide the ultimate challenge
in generating consensus from the entire Internet community --
which includes not only individual users, but governments, technical
managers, businesses and non-commercial organizations, among
others. All of these segments of the Internet community have
a legitimate interest in the solution to this problem, and especially
in a solution that does not threaten the stability of the various
aspects of the Internet for which ICANN has some responsibility.
Thus, it is axiomatic that any effective solution must attract
the support of the entire Internet community; without that consensus,
as we have seen over the last several years, the problem will
III. The Current State of Affairs.
In Cairo and Yokohama, after considerable
public discussion and faced with an apparent lack of consensus
support for any particular method of populating an At Large component
of the ICANN Board, the Board adopted a compromise interim solution:
the direct selection of five ICANN directors by a self-selected
At Large constituency, combined with the continued service of
four of the original ICANN directors (for a period not to exceed
two years) to ensure that there would remain nine At Large "slots"
on the ICANN Board until (at a minimum) the results of the At
Large study were implemented. As part of this compromise, it
was agreed that, during the next two years, there would be a
"clean-sheet" study of how to appropriately provide
for input and influence into ICANN policy deliberations and actions
by the general Internet community, including whether and how
At Large directors should be selected in the future, and any
other issues necessary to solve this problem. The five At Large
directors have now been chosen, in a process that was certainly
not free of problems, but which will provide very useful factual
data for this study. The four continuing original directors
have also now been identified. The next step is to create a
structure for a study that has the potential to be (1) effective
in trying to solve the problem, and (2) credible in its conclusions.
IV. Proposed Conceptual Basis for the
This problem must be solved in some way
that actually works mechanically, but it must also be solved
in a way that generates broad consensus support for the solution
as a workable and appropriate mechanism for broad Internet community
input into the ICANN consensus development process. This means
that the study must be (and be perceived to be) open and inclusive;
it must be managed in a way that promotes the development of
consensus, not a battle of competing designs; and the result
must satisfy the legitimate desire of the broad Internet community
to have meaningful input into ICANN processes and decisions.
This is obviously easier said than done, but we believe it can
The ICANN staff suggests that the following
general principles should guide this study:
1. The study should be undertaken by a
group separate from the ICANN Board. The Study Committee, as
we will refer to it in these comments, should be a relatively
small group (perhaps 5-9 people) that is to the extent possible
representative of the Internet community as a whole. We suggest
that one member of the Study Committee should be a sitting ICANN
Board member, bringing to the Study Committee the history and
experience of ICANN's efforts to deal with this issue. The remaining
members of the Study Committee should, to the extent practical,
reflect the breadth of relevant interests in the Internet community,
including non-commercial interests, commercial interests, public
bodies (governments, treaty organizations or other multi-national
organizations), the technical community, and the general user
community. We believe it would be desirable to include on the
Committee one member who is expert in election issues generally.
Finally, the Study Committee should, again to the extent practical,
also be geographically representative. We suggest that the Board
solicit recommendations from the community, as described below,
for appropriate members of this Study Committee, and in particular
for a Chair (or co-Chairs) whose reputation(s) will help to generate
confidence in the objectivity of the effort.
2. An Executive Director should be selected who would undertake
the day-to-day staff work, under the direction of the Study Committee,
of the consensus development effort itself. For purposes of
funding and administration, the Executive Director should report
to the ICANN CEO; in all other respects, the Executive Director
should report to the Study Committee Chair.
3. The Study Committee should be specifically charged with
finding a consensus solution to this problem that will provide
a mechanism for appropriate input by the general Internet community
while also permitting effective and efficient management of ICANN
and the achievement of its specific technical and administrative
mission. The Study Committee in its final report should specifically
answer the following questions (along with such other specific
inquiries as it deems appropriate):
a. Should the ICANN Board include At Large
b. If so, how many such At Large Directors
should there be?
c. How should any such At Large Directors
d. If selection by an At Large membership
is recommended, what processes and procedures should be used
to create that At Large membership? What minimum criteria, if
any, should be required for membership? Precisely how should
an At Large membership select At Large Directors?
e. If an At Large membership is to exist,
what should its structure, role and functions be?
Any report and recommendations by the Study
Committee should, at a minimum, provide a report on the consensus
position in the community, if one has been generated, on each
of these questions, along with a clear explanation of the rationale
underlying that consensus.
4. As implied immediately above, the
Study Committee should function as a true consensus development
body, seeking input from all and attempting to facilitate the
creation, from all of those participating, of a true consensus
solution to this problem. This probably means that the Study
Committee, in addition to commissioning or undertaking any studies
or analyses it thinks appropriate or necessary, should also facilitate
and encourage broad participation by multiple other groups, either
by encouraging them to undertake (at their own cost) their own
analyses or studies and submitting those to the Study Committee
for its use in the consensus development process, or by encouraging
their participation in any public forums or other meetings that
the Study Committee might sponsor. Any independent studies that
are undertaken should, to be most useful, document the process,
input and nature and extent of support for any particular proposal.
The Study Committee should also provide multiple mechanisms
for input from the community, including bulletin boards, mailing
lists, and perhaps (in its discretion) one or more public meetings.
The Study Committee should seek to facilitate the transformation
of the various inputs that it receives toward a recommendation
that could receive broad support throughout the community In
addition, the Study Committee should seek to facilitate consensus
in any other appropriate way, including the preparation and distribution
of concept papers and the promulgation of specific questions
and other inquiries to those participating in this effort.
5. Assuming it is able to identify a consensus, the Study
Committee should report and document that consensus, and accept
and evaluate any public comment on that preliminary report.
Following that public comment and any further efforts it feels
are necessary and appropriate in light of those comments, the
Study Committee should report its findings to the ICANN Board,
and simultaneously post that final report for public comment.
Following receipt of the Study Committee's report, the ICANN
Board should receive and evaluate any public comments on that
report, and devote a minimum of one full day at one or more quarterly
Board meetings to public discussion and debate on the report
and its suggestions.
6. Following the conclusion of the process
outlined above, the ICANN Board should take such actions as it
deems appropriate to recognize any community consensus that exists
on this subject, and in particular to amend its bylaws and/or
take any other steps necessary to provide an appropriate mechanism
for input and involvement by the general Internet community in
the ICANN consensus development process.
In addition to the schedule, another critical issue relating
to the study is the budget necessary to accomplish its purpose
- both the amount and the source of the funds. One advantage
of the Study Committee acting principally as a consensus development
body, and encouraging multiple independent studies as part of
that process, is the fact that funding requirements will be dispersed
to some extent, but the Study Committee itself will still require
significant resources. There are no funds in the current ICANN
budget for this purpose. The staff recommends that the community
be asked to make suggestions for how the Study Committee's work
be funded in the comment period recommended below. In addition,
we suggest that the Study Committee be required to include in
its Melbourne report a recommended budget (and suggestions for
the source of any funds not at that time already committed) for
the completion of its work from that point.
The process adopted by the ICANN Board
in Yokohama contemplated that the study required by the bylaws
would be completed by the time of the second ICANN meeting in
2001, and that the ICANN Board would adopt whatever bylaws or
other changes were necessary to implement the recommendations
it chose to adopt by its annual meeting in 2001. The notion
was that this would leave sufficient time to take whatever actions
were required so that the selection of any new At Large directors,
assuming that was the result of the Board's action, could be
done so that they could take their seats on the Board no later
than at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting in 2002. On reflection,
it may be that this is too aggressive a schedule at the beginning
and too generous at the end, but the staff is reluctant to suggest
specific changes. Therefore, we suggest that the Study Committee
itself be required to report at the first ICANN meeting in 2001,
to be held in Melbourne, Australia on March 10-13, 2001, on the
schedule and process it thinks is necessary to accomplish its
mission, with the caveat that any such schedule must conclude
with an ICANN Board decision that can be fully implemented, as
required by the current bylaws, no later than the ICANN Annual
Meeting in 2002.
The staff recommends that the Board publish these staff recommendations
during the Annual Meeting in 2000, and solicit comments on them
over the 30 days following the conclusion of that meeting. During
that time, the Board should also solicit recommendations from
the community for membership on the Study Committee, and for
potential sources of funding for the study. As soon as possible
following the public comment period, but no later than January
15, 2001, the Board should either establish the Study Committee
or, if persuaded by the public comments to adopt some different
approach, take such other action as is appropriate to initiate
the At Large study process required by Article II, Section 5
of the Bylaws.
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