BEST PRACTICES for the General Assembly of the DNSO

V. 1.01

Prepared by William S. Lovell and Joanna Lane. Last revised Thursday, August 16, 2001

First published 13 August 2001



The General Assembly of ICANN is intended to serve as an advisory body on issues important to the function of ICANN, and that lie within the area of responsibility of the DNSO. Contributions by the General Assembly are to be based upon a consensus of the opinions of its members. Consensus can only be achieved, however, when there are clearly defined Issues on which decisions can be based, and mechanisms that provide all General Assembly members with the opportunity both to voice their opinions and themselves to generate the Issues, and their solutions, that will be treated. This outline, with its Principles, Definitions, and Flow Chart and its associated Time Lines, is intended to set out a system of Best Practices that will provide that mechanism.

By following these Best Practices, it is believed that:

(a) substantive decisions can be reached more expeditiously;
(b) participants in the process can see positive results from their contributions, and thus feel more to be a part of the functioning of ICANN; and
(c) the factual Basis underlying an ultimate Vote to be taken will have been provided, and the course of the process will have been fully demonstrated, whereby the result of that Vote will be accorded the full respect that is its due.

In short, these Best Practices are intended to set out a systematic process in which the occurrence of vigorous Discussion and Debate is there for all to see, the formulation therefrom of a definite position is achieved, and a final Vote that reaches a conclusion is taken, thus to provide weight to and evidence for a legitimate claim of consensus within the General Assembly.


The general thrust of these Best Practices centers on a single concept -- the Call For Action which, if followed through to a conclusion, will result in a Motion being put to a Vote of the full membership of the General Assembly. These Best Practices are intended to help direct activity of the General Assembly to achieve that goal, through steps that will give every voice an opportunity to be heard, while at the same time avoiding fractionating or splintering of the effort, in each case by keeping the focus of General Assembly members on the Issue at hand. This procedure is simple enough that its administration could be carried out by a GA Secretariat, or by any person who would not himself or herself hold strong views on the Issue at hand, but would simply facilitate in an impartial manner.


Participants recognize that the work of the General Assembly in general, commencing with a Member's Call For Action, is driven by a set of Principles. The design of these Best Practices has been based upon the principle that both the mechanism itself and the Time Lines established therewith will ensure that the overall process shall:

  1. Be participatory
  2. Be sustainable
  3. Be legitimate and accessible to people
  4. Be transparent
  5. Be able to develop the resources and methods of a General Assembly
  6. Be able to mobilize necessary resources and expertise
  7. Be efficient and effective in resource use
  8. Engender and command respect and trust
  9. Be accountable to the public trust
  10. Be able to define and take ownership of recommended actions
  11. Be enabling and facilitative
  12. Be regulatory rather than controlling
  13. Be able to deal with temporal issues
  14. Be service oriented


Efficient communication between members of a General Assembly that is operating worldwide in an on-line environment, using email lists as its primary tool, requires a common understanding of the words used to describe its Best Practices. Listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Amendment: A change in wording in a Proposal or Motion that does not annul its essential point.

  2. Basis: On-line description of purported facts that underlie some particular Issue, that explains why there is a need for action, indicates the nature and extent of action being sought, and how that action would resolve the Issue and impact current operations, thus justifying the formulation of a Proposal or the offering of a Motion.

  3. Call For Action: A demand that action be taken with regard to an Issue.

  4. Consensus: The result expressed in a Report of a Vote on one or more Motions that has been derived from an Issue carried through the Best Practices procedures.

  5. Debate: On-line exchange of comment concerning the merits of a formal Proposal or a Motion.

  6. Discussion: On-line exchange of comments concerning some matter of importance in the functioning of ICANN that lies within the scope of responsibility of the General Assembly, that clarifies an Issue and examines the Basis therefor, typically arising from one or more Suggestions, Calls For Action and from which may arise the formulation of a definitive Proposal.

  7. Flow Chart: A graphic representation of processes that make up the various procedures of the General Assembly and how they may fit together; used to determine Time Lines for dealing with Issues.

  8. GA Secretariat: An office charged with the administration of voting procedures, including the setting of Time Lines to assist the General Assembly with addressing Issues in a timely fashion according to Best Practices.

  9. Investigation: A search for and compilation of documents and the like so as to help provide a Basis for a Proposal or Motion.

  10. Issue: A condition of fact thought to exist on which it is believed that some action may be required.

  11. Motion: A formal, declarative call for action on some issue, phrased so as to be amenable to being either accepted or rejected, and being in an agreed-upon form that could be presented to the General Assembly for a Vote. A Motion results from Recognition of a Proposal to be ready to act on, agreeing on its wording, and then advancing it.

  12. Poll: An informal request for a "yes-no" expression of opinion on some Issue, or a selection of options.

  13. Proponent(s): The author(s) of a Proposal, Motion, Amendment, or Substitute Motion, who shall develop and Publish the Basis therefor.

  14. Proposal: A formal, declarative call for action on some Issue, phrased so as to be amenable to being either accepted or rejected; expected to result from a Discussion of a Suggestion. A Proposal is Debated, then in agreed-upon form rises to the level of a Motion.

  15. Publish: To post on an appropriate mailing list.

  16. Recognition: The act of Publishing a declaration that a particular Proposal, Motion, Amendment, or Subsitute Motion has entered into the Flow Chart.

  17. Report: A communication requested and received, in the course of a Discussion or Debate, in which a member sets out the result of an Investigation into some factual background of an Issue; also a statement of the result of a Vote.

  18. Second: An expression by at least one person other than the Proponent of a Motion, Amendment or Substitute Motion that is in favor thereof.

  19. Substitute Motion: A Motion offered to replace an existing Motion, and that annuls the central point of the original Motion.

  20. Suggestion: An expression that there may exist some problem, some useful course of action, or any other matter that falls within the scope of the DNSO. It is expected that the interchange of Suggestions through Discussion will result in establishing an Issue that may develop into a Proposal.

  21. Time Line: A schedule that results from a Call For Action that allows for specific tasks to be performed in accordance with the Flow Chart and Time Line Guide.

  22. Time Line Guide: An agreed-upon minimum, optimum and maximum duration for each of the procedures of the General Assembly as identified in the Flow Chart, from time to time amended as necessary. The credibility of any result from a Call For Action depends upon the fairness and timeliness (whether slow or fast) by which each process is carried out.

  23. Vote: The formal procedure for determining the passage or not of a Motion. Also known as a Ballot.