Dynamic coalition on accountability

9 Dec 2016 11:15h - 12:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

The session about Dynamic Coalition (DC) and Accountability was moderated by Mr Farzaneh Badiei, one of the co-leaders of the Dynamic Coalition on Accountability. She started with explaining that DC was created in 2014 in order to focus on ICANN Accountability and that now, due to the latest changes within ICANN dut to the IANA transition, it is time to discuss essential questions with respect to ICANN, DC and accountability. For that reason this session had two parts, first the discussion of ICANN accountability issues and the second,  focus on DC and its work.

Starting with the first part of the session, Mr Milton Mueller, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy, USA, started with elaborating the changes that were made to ICANN due to the IANA transition. There have been significant reforms but it was equally important to do follow up to and see how implementation of reform is conducted. This part of the process (follow up) encompasses numerous different activities that are called ‘work stream two’. Within this process there are a few working groups that work on different issues such as the human rights working group which is trying to implement a framework for interpreting ICANN’s commitment to respect human rights; a group that deals with the issues of how ICANN’s accountability is affected by jurisdictional issues; a transparency working group, etc. One of these activities, that is especially important, is the independent review process that is currently being created through drafting internal regulations that should ensure an effective judicial appeal system within ICANN. The rules about this independent review process are under public consultations currently, so he invited everybody to comments on this, especially since he thinks that subjective time limits for starting an action are not appropriate.

Ms Tatiana Tropina, Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Csriminal Law, focused on elaborating the very concept of human right and its relevance for  international organisations in IG. She stated that only the government should enforce human right principles, while businesses should respect them during their work. As for international organisations, they should take into account human rights when they work on policy making, but under no circumstances can they enforce them.

Mr Steve Del Bianco, Executive Director of NetChoice, referred to the transition process and how it transformed ICANN into an organisation that is more accountable to the stakeholder groups in the bylaws. According to him, even though the IANA never specifically defined  accountability, it allowed stakeholders to gather together and create accountability at the peak level it is at today. Through the mechanism of the stakeholder organisations and the advisory committees, they are trying to understand the extent to which they are accountable to the communities they were designated to serve. In the end they concluded with the fact that each stakeholder organisation and advisory committee in ICANN is currently undergoing a self examination as to whether it is truly accountable to the stakeholder groups that they were designated to serve. This process will take some time but recommendations that can improve ICANN accountability are expected as a result. 

Mr Lee Hibbard, Council of Europe, explained that the main reason why the Council of Europe is at the IGF is to assure that as we go forward with our understanding of democracy, human rights and rule of law and to ensure that they are not just theoretical concepts but rather practical and effective.

Mr Matthew Shears, Center for Democracy and Technology, referred to the issue of accountability among the members of the specific groups in ICANN, as being cooperative, open to compromise, flexible and as still able to have a respective view. Apart from that, he addressed accountability in the Internet ecosystem as whole and how other organisations perceive this concept.

In the second part of the session about DC, its role and the future of it, Mr Milton Mueller stated that the concept of DC is bit vague and there is not a very clear concept of what the coalition should do. DC does not have capacities to deal with all the issues, so he thinks that it needs to make priorities and focus on few issues.

Mr Adam Peak, ICANN, stated that in his opinion the purpose of this dynamic coalition, when it was established, was to look at organisations and venues involved in Internet governance and their different processes and policies, their accountability and whether are they standing up to the standards that we think are appropriate.

According to Prof. Jan Aart Scholte, the purpose of DC should be something that nobody else does. In that regard, he suggested three ideas: to highlight accountability problems in the Internet ecosystem, to compare practices and to realise what work accountability is doing in the Internet ecosystem.

The questions from the other participants of the panel were about the relationships ICANN has with other organisations active in IG; focusing highest value targets in IG issues in DC work; role of the IETF; transparency of the procedures and selection criteria in MAG; IG policy processes, etc. At the end, as one of the main conclusions of the session, it was said that it we need to define procedures for DC and to have clear focus of its future work. Even thought a political context and democracy issues were raised during the session, there was no mention of ICANN and prospects of its position within new Trump administration.

by Adriana Minović