ICANN DNSO Names Council chairman report - August 2002

ICANN DNSO Names Council chairman report - August 2002

As I finish my term of office as chairman of the ICANN DNSO Names Council (NC) I would like to submit the following report to the ICANN Board.

Core achievement

Any achievement during my term of office builds very much on the work of my predecessors in the chair and the dedication of fellow Councilors.

I believe that the foremost achievement has been the demonstration that the NC can fulfil the job expected of it. We have shown that global consensus building between divergent interests is possible. Could we be better? Of course. Could we be faster? Of course. Could we have been worse? Undoubtedly!

The process-related enablers of this achievement are the following:

Developing such a process, has I believe added significantly to the realisation of ICANN's consensus-based self-governance model. It has allowed us to move on from process debate to tackle the policy issues. Where we have faltered over the last 18 months has typically been where we disagreed on policy. That is a necessary feature of consensus-based governance.

Policy Issues

The NC has provided policy recommendation on the following issues:

The NC has work in progress on the following issues:

Reform of ICANN

The NC has always been an enthusiastic promoter of reform within the young organisation of ICANN. Indeed, the NC established in 1999, a DNSO working group on internal procedures, long before the ICANN CEO's February 2002 case for reform. During my term as chair, the work of this group was revised and adopted into NC rules of procedure in December 2001.

The NC reacted positively to the objective laid out in the Case for Reform, and raised several critical questions about the strategies proposed to meet that objective. That experience-based positive criticism continues now and, I believe, will result in a reformed ICANN that is better able to meet its mission.

Council members

During my term of office a number of council members following normal rotation joined and left the council. The contribution made by all council members should be acknowledged. As Chair I am aware of the considerable volume of work and time commitment necessary. Especially of note are those NC members who chaired task forces and took on the time-consuming responsibilities of scheduling meetings, resolving conflicts and writing a series of reports and presentations.

I would like to honor the memory of Peter de Blanc, who passed away in 2002 whilst still a council member.

An assessment

ICANN's challenge is to be globally representative, to outreach to the affected stakeholders and public, and to resolve competing technical and commercial issues: I believe that on the whole it has met this challenge. Is there any other organisation suited to this task? Not by a long way. Intergovernmental organisations are nothing like as fleet of foot as ICANN. And for those who decry ICANN's and the Names Council's slowness, let them be reminded that dictators and monopolists can move swiftly, but outreach, consensus and the establishment of meaningful consumer-friendly competition take a little longer.

It is of no surprise that today is the time to reform certain structures and procedures within ICANN to make it perform with greater efficiency. It would be more surprising if no change was needed and that the experience of the last few years had taught us nothing.

I am comforted that the Board has endorsed the recommendation of the Evolution and Reform Committee and the Names Council, to centrally resource full-time staff support to the policy development supporting organisations. If there is one thing that distinguishes one organisation from another, it is not the quality of its members, but the quality of its staff. Professional full-time staff are the enablers of the policy process: from outreach, through meeting scheduling, through report writing, through deadline chasing.

The NC has been fortunate in having in its early years a highly competent volunteer secretariat and now just manages to collect the funds to pay for high-calibre professional part-time administrative support. The future additional policy development support will move ICANN into a new league.

I am honoured to have been a part of this process of improvement and wish my successor the best of luck.

Philip Sheppard
Names Council Chairman
February 2001 - August 2002

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