By Aarti Bhavana
In the weeks leading up to the finalisation of the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1 Report, we traced the evolution of each recommendation. While things have been quiet on the drafting front, there has been a lot of activity towards completing and implementing Work Stream 1 recommendations, to clear the path for Work Stream 2.
Over the past few months, the finalised IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal and the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1 Report were submitted to the ICANN Board, transmitted, to and approved by the NTIA. Alongside this, the bylaws were amended to reflect the changes recommended in the proposals, and these new bylaws were adopted as part of Work Stream 1 implementation.
With Work Stream 1 completed, the attention now shifts to the next set of topics that required further discussion, but weren’t urgent enough to need to be completed prior to the transition- Work Stream 2. The CCWG-Accountability face-to-face meeting at ICANN56 officially kicked off Work Stream 2, with a series of lightning talks aimed to introduce each topic. In the weeks since, dedicated subgroups have been created for each topic, with rapporteurs appointed to help facilitate the discussions. This post briefly introduces each topic and outlines what will be discussed in the months to come. Since the substantive work hasn’t started yet, this is a great time for those not following the process closely, to join in.
Human Rights: The recently introduced human rights bylaw committing ICANN to respect internationally recognized human rights, will only take effect once a framework of interpretation (FOI) is in place to help inform how this bylaw is to be interpreted and implemented. This FOI shall be discussed and developed in Work Stream 2. This topic promises to bring forth some interesting discussions, as it was fairly contentious even at the stage of drafting the bylaw in Work Stream 1.
Jurisdiction: ICANN’s incorporation and physical location in California has long been a source of contention for governments and individuals alike. Jurisdiction directly impacts the manner in which ICANN and its accountability mechanisms are structured (for example, the sole designator model arises from the California Corporations Code). Over the coming months, this subgroup will analyse the effect of jurisdiction on ICANN’s operations and accountability mechanisms. While the current bylaws do state that ICANN will remain headquartered in California, it remains to be seen whether this subgroup will be tackling the issue of relocation. This multi-layered issue will be a controversial one, as it involves political and national interests.
Transparency: Accountability isn’t possible without transparency and the demands for greater transparency have only been increasing. This subgroup will be looking at improving transparency, with a focus on ICANN’s Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP), whistleblower policy, transparency of Board deliberations and ICANN’s interaction with governments.
Diversity: Public comments in Work Stream 1 highlighted the need for diversity to ensure better representation of the global internet community. Discussions in Helsinki showed that this issue isn’t going to be as simple as one might have thought. This subgroup will study the present diversity requirements and suggest improvements accordingly.
SO/AC Accountability: With the Supporting Organizations (SO) and Advisory Committees (AC) being given greater powers under the Empowered Community, it is essential to ensure that they themselves don’t go unchecked. Accordingly, SO/AC reviews will take place, and the subgroups will determine the most suitable manner of enhancing accountability based on various suggestions made, such as a mutual accountability roundtable.
Staff Accountability: In a similar vein of ensuring organizational accountability, WS2 will also be looking at staff accountability. Here, the subgroup will work on clearly understanding the role of ICANN staff in reference to the ICANN Board and Community. It will also work on developing a code of conduct, transparency criteria, training and independent audits. This work will tie in to the next subgroup on enhancing the Ombudsman’s role.
Ombudsman: Work Stream 1 already enhanced the Ombudsman’s role through the Request for Reconsideration process. In Work Stream 2, the subgroup will consider how to enhance the role of Ombudsman’s office, including evaluating the Ombudsman Charter, and recommend changes necessary for the adequate independence of this office.
While not considered separately at the time of Work Stream 1, there are two additional subgroups that will be working as part of Work Stream 2. The Guidelines on Good Faith Conduct in Participating in Board Removal Discussions subgroup will be looking at the removal of Board members and indemnity provisions. The Reviewing the Cooperative Engagement Process (CEP) subgroup shall be a continuation of improving the Independent Review Process (IRP), by reviewing the CEP, which is the first step of filing an IRP.
All WS2 topics will kick off simultaneously, but the timeline for discussions and output will depend on whether it has been identified as a ‘Simple’ or ‘Complex’ topic. The simple topics are expected to be short term, with public comment process in October. The complex topics will be more long term, with a public comment period in May and final report expected by June 2017. Whether a topic is simple or complex is something that needs to be communicated by the rapporteurs of each subgroup.
Simple Topics – Short Term
- June 2016: sub-groups agreed, commence work on docs for public input
- Aug 2016: first discussion with CCWG
- Sep 2016: refining work
- Oct 2016: CCWG agrees for public input
- 20 Oct-30 Nov: Public Input comment period
- Dec 2016: Analyze public comment staff/subgroups
- Jan 2017: Sub-groups refines and revises output
- Feb 2017: CCWG agrees final Output for consideration by community FOR ADOPTION at Copenhagen (ICANN58)
Complex Topics – Intermediate/Long Term
- Jun 2016: sub-groups agreed
- Sep-Oct 2016: first discussion with CCWG – identifies whether and how to update community at Hyderabad
- Nov-Dec 2016: second discussion with CCWG (first SUBSTANTIVE)
- Jan 2017: refining work
- Feb 2017: CCWG agrees docs for public input
- 1 Mar to 10 Apr: Public Input comment period
- Apr 2017: Analyze public comment staff/subgroups
- May 2017: Sub-groups refines and revises output
- May/Jun 2017: CCWG agrees final Output for consideration by community
 To sign up as either an active participant or an observer in any of the Subgroups, a request can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.