[ga] Defining the General Assembly's Agenda
Dear General Assembly members:
The Chair of the NC, Philip Sheppard, has put forward an invitation to the
Chair of the General Assembly to address the Names Council regarding the
GA's work agenda. As I consider this to be a formal request to define our
own agenda, I am asking the General Assembly to begin a discussion on this
I will be happy to initiate such dialogue by putting forth some of my own
I have noted a reticence on the part of the Names Council to establish
committees and working groups drawn from the General Assembly membership.
The NC Business Plan currently calls for Interim Committees (Names Council
representatives only) and other groups to address a limited collection of
domain name policy issues. Phil Sheppard, in commenting on these "other
groups", has stated that this terminology is "precisely intended not to say
working group; the whole point of this discussion is to figure out how to
get work done, which may or may not be a working group as we've known them.
So "other group" means some kind of outreach group." My concern is that the
NC is selecting only its own representatives to carry out such tasks,
thereby thwarting the clear intent of the by-laws and denigrating the
contributions of our General Assembly membership.
That the Names Council has no great love for the working group has been
amply demonstrated on several recent occasions - the decision to limit the
life of the initial Review Working Group to a scant three weeks (23 Dec. to
15 Jan.), the ongoing battle to shut down participation in the Review
Working Group, and the final decision to terminate the Review Working Group
and its mailing list (in spite of the vocal objection of dozens of
contributing members that favored an ongoing DNSO Review). The Names
Council appears to be threatened by the possibility that a Working Group
will reach consensus on how to restructure the DNSO (more specifically, they
are threatened by the majority opinion within the Review Working Group that
called for the dissolution of the Names Council constituency structure). In
my view this explains why, in spite of a call from the ICANN Board to have
the Names Council and "other sources" put forward proposals regarding a
possible restructuring of the DNSO (Resolution 01.28), not one substantive
proposal has come forth from the NC regarding the restructuring of our
Supporting Organization - some of our constituency representatives doubtless
seek to remain entrenched in their positions of power, fearing the
consequences of a re-organization.
As an agenda item, I would see the General Assembly, one of the "other
sources" referred to by the Board, begin work on the restructuring proposals
that the Board has requested and that the Names Council has chosen to
At the heart of this issue is proper representation. At a time when the
Names Council has decided that those that cannot pay cannot vote, I stand in
favor of ousting such a callous administration. Domain name policy issues
must be voted upon by a body that is fully representative of the Internet
community. Any group that advances a proposal that threatens that precept
must be shown the door.
This leads me to my next concern, the future of our At-Large Directors. The
very existence of ICANN was predicated on a membership model that called for
a great many more At-Large Directors than we now have. The privatization of
the Internet moved forward because promises were made at the outset with
respect to full representation of the public in the ICANN structure. As I
review the questions posed by the "clean-sheet" study of the ALSC, I
conclude that this committee has re-opened questions that were already
firmly decided in 1998. Coupled with a Budget Proposal for 2001-2002 that
has set aside no funds for the At-Large electoral process, I see an agenda
at work that seeks to further disenfranchise the public.
As an agenda item for the GA, I would like to have the membership of this
Assembly engaged in the "research" permitted to us under the By-Laws, that
will allow us to submit our own "study" to the ALSC.
This General Assembly faces a choice - we can either work in harmony with
those that would deny rights and representation to others, or we can fight
for an ICANN in which representation is guaranteed to all.
My vision of the appropriate agenda for the GA may substantially differ from
yours. It is important that we reach a consensus on the way forward so that
the Names Council may properly be advised. I look forward to hearing your
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