[At-review] Conflicts of interest

Peter Dengate Thrush peter.dengatethrush at icann.org
Sun May 2 23:01:52 UTC 2010

Hi Fabio
A robust conflict of interest policy is essential in ICANN, arising  
from the multistakeholder nature of the participants.
The Review Team is no different - it is selected from players in the  
community, all of whom have interests in decisions made at ICANN.  
Ensuring those interests are declared ensures steps can be taken to  
deal with when those interests come in to conflict.
Continuous disclosure keeps the issue front of mind.

And of course, the irony of a Review Team into transparency and  
accountability not following good  accountability and transparency  
practices would be lost on no one.

Thank you for referring to my potential conflicts; I have been aware  
of them since the Team structure was first mooted, and of course the  
topic was raised by several in the public comments on the Strawman  
I expect I shall have to recuse myself on many topics.

That too is an aspect of the CoI practice we need to decide; the  
current board version requires disclosure of the interest, then  
allows the board to decide whether the subject needs to leave the  
room for the discussion, or can be present but non-voting.
That is seen as providing a graduated response to a conflict.



On 1/05/2010, at 9:24 AM, Fabio Colasanti wrote:

> Dear all,
> Many thanks to Peter for his remarks about the importance of the  
> conflict of interest issue and to Cheryl for the material she has  
> distributed.   I wonder, however, if we are not making too much of it.
> Let's go back a second to what ICANN is supposed to do and to the  
> remit of the external review set up by the AoC.   ICANN is supposed  
> to take a number of technical decisions about a "scarce/essential  
> resource", the DNS, in the interest of all the internet users  
> (which will coincide more and more with simply the interest of the  
> world population).
> The RT is tasked with the objective of examining if the  
> organization of ICANN and its practice ensure the necessary taking  
> into account of all external inputs, if its decisions are taken in  
> a transparent way and if ICANN feels/is accountable to the Internet  
> (world) community for its decisions.
> Under these circumstances, what are the situations that could  
> generate a conflict of interest in the RT?   I do not see very  
> obvious ones.   More or less transparency, more or less  
> accountability will not, per se, favour one particular group of  
> stakeholders over another.   All RT participants can be expected to  
> genuinely desire an effective review process independently of their  
> position in the internet world.   The only difference of interest a  
> critical observer might imagine is more of the type "ICANN  
> insiders" vs. "ICANN outsiders"; i.e. some observers may fear that  
> ICANN might not want to have more transparency and accountability  
> and might therefore be interested in frustrating attempts to have  
> an effective review.   Such an observer might want to be reassured  
> that the RT identified the members who might be in a position that  
> would incline them in this direction.   If we want to reassure the  
> internet community on this point, we need only to identify the  
> existence of strong links – financial or other - between the  
> organisations to whom some team members belong and ICANN.
> I do not see how the many issues raised in the detailed  
> questionnaire circulated by Cheryl would help.  Our backgrounds,  
> our past experiences and present links are all spelled out in our  
> CVs that have been made public.
> The only clear conflict of interest situation is one built into the  
> system from the start, i.e. the position of Peter, who might appear  
> as "making recommendations to himself".   He is at the same time  
> the highest representative of ICANN and a member of the body that  
> should make recommendations to ICANN.   But he is an ex-officio  
> member of the RT.   Perhaps, we should explain to the internet  
> community how we are going to deal with this situation.
> All the best,
> Fabio
> Fabio Colasanti
> 36, rue des Patriotes
> B-1000 Bruxelles
> tel. +32 2 736 26 16
> mob. +32 488 14 24 05
> fabio at colasanti.it
> _______________________________________________
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