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The Journey to Dublin and Beyond - IANA Stewardship Transition and ICANN Accountability

Seun odeji Seun Ojedeji is a member of CWG-Stewardship and participant of CCWG on ICANN accountability representing AFRALO. He is also a member of ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Co-Chair of the AFRINIC Policy Development Working Group. We catch up with him at the end of the ICANN 54 Meeting in Dublin to find out his take on the IANA Stewardship Oversight Transition.



Seun, can you tell us about the 'journey' to Dublin’?

I was lucky enough to participate in the recently concluded ICANN 54 meeting in Dublin. The event saw a high number of participants ranging from various stakeholders including private sector, government, academia, technical communities, civil societies, end-users and registries from all over the world. They gathered to discuss various issues of interest and to contribute to the development of the Internet, putting the concept of multi-stakeholderism into practice at a global scale. The IANA Oversight Stewardship Transition and Enhancing ICANN Accountability related topics were of great interest to many during the week. This did not come as a coincidence as its an ongoing process that began in 2014 when the NTIA announced its intent to transition its stewardship role to the multi-stakeholder community and tasked ICANN with convening a process that will enable the multi-stakholder community to determine how they would like an ICANN without NTIA Stewardship to operate. So far so good! The process has been progressing steadily, and the community have been making efforts to identify their differences and collaboratively discuss ways to resolve the issues.

Can you please tell us more the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) on ICANN Accountability. The CCWG was tasked to coordinate the development of the ICANN accountability proposal. Any feedback?

I regard this as the most discussed topic in Dublin as its seen as the foundational ingredient for the stewardship transition. Various ICANN communities held their independent meetings, there were discussions over a glass of beer, people talked during lunch and there were discussions across/among all of the communities. All of the discussion was aimed at understanding the issues and how to resolve them in the most efficient and effective manner with minimal changes to the current ICANN community structure while maintaining the security, stability and resilience of the IANA. Great progress was made in Dublin and one thing that I find most critical is the community's determination to focus the development of the accountability mechanisms around the designator model (sole designator) as opposed to the membership model (sole member) which was proposed in the second draft of the report that was published for public comment. Other open areas that witnessed huge progress and support include the community’s power to Review/Reject Budget and Operating Plan and the ability to Recall Individual Board Directors. Those two powers among other community powers proposed were discussed at great length and an acceptable way to exercise those powers was finally arrived at in Dublin.

You can watch the archives of the discussions and sessions here by clicking on the relevant session and selecting the archived recording.

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) coordinates the transition process among the operational communities. What were the outcomes at ICANN 54?

Prior to Dublin, the group had received and combined the transition proposal from the three operational communities - Protocol parameters (IANAPLAN), Numbers community (CRISP), and Names (CWG-Stewardship group). They have also made calls for public comments for the combined transition proposal, which received strong support from the community with minor comments relating to role clarifications and enhancement requests. The ICG, as per the agreed process, forwarded the comments/questions to respective operational communities and got feedback prior to Dublin. The ICG then spent most of its time in Dublin reviewing the responses, and worked towards finalising their proposal. They also looked at their timeline in other to ensure that the process is still on track. One area that was identified to require further coordination among the three operational communities is the IANA related IPR and trademarks, including the domain name. The operational communities have committed to work together to find a workable solution to resolve the issue and this commitment was also publicly reiterated during the public forum in Dublin.

Going forward, what do you think will happen?

Owing to the significant progress made by the ICG and especially by the CCWG on ICANN Accountability, one could say that the transition could indeed be in sight. However, events that happen in the next couple of weeks will determine how close we actually are in completing the transition. Andrew Sullivan of the IAB, during the public forum, presented the following question to the ICANN Board:  “The mission of ICANN currently has the text that ICANN is to coordinate at the overall level, the global internet systems of unique identifiers. That's not precisely true any more and hasn't been at least since the protocol supporting organisation disappeared from ICANN.....IS the board open to changing this?

The ICANN board response by Chair Steve Crocker was “More than open.”

Seun, some final thoughts for us?

The brief overview above is an indication of how the operational communities are taking more caution than ever to ensure that there is a clear understanding and documentation of roles and responsibilities. The Numbers community has also been somewhat silent on whether or not it wants to participate in the accountability mechanisms proposed in the CCWG. All these ask the question of how much longer the IANA functions will remain centrally performed by a single operator. All eyes are now on the ICANN Accountability work stream. As the CCWG on IANA Accountability goes back to publish its third report for public comments and, subsequently, its final proposal to be approved by the chartering organisations, I expect that great efforts will be put into ensuring that the report communicates to the community in an understandable manner. I expect that flow charts and diagrams that help to explain the different mechanisms will be included in the report and, ultimately, I hope that the final outcome of the CCWG-Accountability proposal will be worthy of the approval of the entire community (the chartering organisations).  

Thank you Seun!


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