[CCWG-ACCT] NTIA Statement on ST 18

Radell, Suzanne SRadell at ntia.doc.gov
Wed Nov 25 22:33:08 UTC 2015

Hello everyone, Assistant Secretary Strickling has asked that I share this with the CCWG.  Best regards, Suz

NTIA Statement on Stress Test 18
November 25, 2015

NTIA has been closely following the discussions in the CCWG-Accountability, including the recently concluded small group on stress test 18.  As has been the case throughout the work of the CCWG, we are impressed by the time and dedication so many of you are putting into these important discussions.  We thank everyone for their efforts as the group works to finalize the proposal for publication on November 30.

NTIA has long believed that governments, like all stakeholders, have an important role to play within multistakeholder processes, including ICANN.  Our position on that has not changed.  As the CCWG finalizes its proposals for enhancing ICANN's accountability, we feel we should reiterate our view, as we stated last July, that ICANN preserve and clarify the current practice of the Board  in responding to advice it receives from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).  Specifically, ICANN should amend its Bylaws to clarify that the Board is required to enter into a formal consultation process with the GAC only where it receives GAC advice that is consensus advice based on the current definition within the GAC's Operating Principles, that is, advice to which no GAC member has raised a formal objection.

We want to make clear that nothing about this proposal is intended to limit how the GAC determines what advice it submits to the Board.  As the Bylaws make clear, the Board is obligated to duly take all GAC advice into account.  However, it is not practicable for the Board to give GAC advice special consideration unless it is consensus advice as currently defined in the GAC Operating Principles.  Anything less than consensus places the Board in the awkward, if not impossible, position of trying to choose between governments with conflicting opinions.  NTIA sees any deviation from the current standard of consensus as introducing instability into the system while also inadvertently diminishing the important role of governments.  Accordingly, every time the GAC provides consensus advice that it expects to trigger the special Bylaws consideration from the Board, it must be unambiguous and consistent with the current definition in the Operating Principles.  Asking the Board to interpret any other threshold of support seems counter to the spirit of the CCWG's efforts to empower the community in a clear and consistent manner.  It also undermines the work done to implement the relevant recommendations of ATRT1 to fix what the community diagnosed as a dysfunctional Board-GAC relationship.

We are aware that some countries are concerned that the current GAC Operating Principles could lead to a single-country veto of GAC advice to the detriment of other countries.  We too share that concern.  But the right place to deal with that issue is not at the last minute in the CCWG but in a more reasoned and full discussion of this issue within the GAC.  NTIA stands ready to participate in and contribute to such a discussion to resolve that concern at the appropriate time and place.

Suzanne Murray Radell
Senior Policy Advisor, NTIA/OIA
sradell at ntia.doc.gov

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