Empowered community’s cross community forum on proposed fundamental bylaws amendments

29 Jun 2017 02:00h

Event report

This was the first time that the Empowered Community (EC) Administration held a Community Forum in accordance with the revised ICANN Bylaws. The representatives of the EC’s five Decisional Participants shared their perspectives on the ICANN Board Governance Committee’s (BGC) proposal to move its responsibilities for ICANN’s Reconsideration Request process to a new Board committee, that could also handle ICANN’s other accountability mechanisms. This proposal, which involves a change in ICANN’s Fundamental Bylaws, need to be approved by both the ICANN Board and the EC.

Mr Stephen Deerhake (Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) councillor and member of the EC Administration) initiated the discussion by giving an overview of who and what the EC is, as well as its administration. He then spoke about the role of the Community Forum in the mechanism for exercising EC’s powers. He also mentioned Section 4.2 of the amended Bylaws, which states that ‘ICANN shall have in place a process by which any person or entity materially affected by an action or inaction of the ICANN Board or Staff may request (‘Requestor’) the review or reconsideration of that action or inaction by the Board’.

Mr James Bladel (Vice President Policy, GoDaddy; Chair Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council) said that the GNSO is still collecting its members’ feedback. The challenges that they forsee are in gathering feedback from community members on how to participate in the EC. The two areas in which the GNSO is working include: how to select the representatives on the EC, and defining operational procedures and the timelines.

Representing the Address Council, Mr Paul Wilson (Director General, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC)) mentioned that his community has no comment or concern at this point.

Mr Alan Greenberg (Chair, At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)) clarified that while the suggested timeline for action and decision on the proposed bylaw amendments was not an issue for the At-Large community, they would have preferred to see more details regarding the scope of the proposed committee detailed scope of the community. A question was also raised about whether there was any urgency in creating the new committee, or this could have been deferred until the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability finished its deliberations.

Mr Thomas Schneider (Chair, Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)) said that GAC would be adopting a pragmatic approach, and will work on the process in the interim. The timeline was a challenge for them too.

Mr Chris Disspain (ICANN Board), while explaining the Board’s rationale, shared the responsibilities and role of the proposed committee, namely, assisting the Board in enhancing its performance; leading the Board in regular performance evaluation reviews; creating nominee recommendations for the leadership position on the Board, and various committees that the Board has; oversight of the Board’s compliance of the code of conduct; administration of the conflicts of interest policy; corporate governance guidelines of the Board; appointment of the nominating committee chair, and reconsideration requests.

Disspain elaborated that the committee would not be limited to reconsideration requests only, but would assist ICANN legally, in terms of other outflow from the accountability mechanisms. He also explained the operational process of the committee.

There was a comment that with the New gTLD Programme, the reconsideration requests and other legal issues were increasing and that a separate committee should be set up to deal with these. Disspain responded by saying that in order to address the reconsideration requests, diverse skills are needed, not a new committee.

In response to a question on how to ensure that there are people with legal skills on the proposed new committee, Disspain responded that there would be a Board skill survey, and that the BGC would be doing a gaps analysis of the skills.

There was a query on the pending reconsideration requests and the timelines, to which Disspain responded by stating that there would be an update during the week.

There were other questions raised on issues such as: how the name of the EC was arrived at; the action procedures followed when exercising EC powers; the need for the proposed bylaw change; the applicability of the amended bylaws; the benefits of creating the new committee; whether there were overlaps in the roles of committee members; and whether there would be a need to resubmit any pending reconsideration requests as a result of the change. There was also a comment on the need for the Board to carefully look at the comments made by the EC Decisional Participants.