[Internal-cg] Coordination Group, 2 weeks after London.
jjs at dyalog.net
Sun Aug 3 17:35:11 UTC 2014
two weeks after our first Coordination Group (CG) meeting in London, I would like to offer a few remarks.
FIRST, THERE IS A TENDENCY WITHIN OUR CG TO DISREGARD THE WIDER PICTURE.
For most global Internet users, the NTIA statement about transitioning stewardship of the IANA functions, while undoubtedly implying that technical changes would be required, was primarily a political message about the United States' willingness to hand over that stewardship. And for the global user community, it is natural and acceptable that Washington, as the current custodian, requires certain conditions to be met before transition can be carried out. The fact that the timing of the NTIA statement may have something to do with the Snowden revelations does not diminish the value of the US proposal.
To someone who follows US and world affairs quite closely, some attitudes displayed in the CG show little awareness of the fact that the intentions of the United States could be completely misunderstood. They also show little consideration for the user communities in non-affluent societies.
When it became clear that the membership of our Coordination Group was heavily weighted in favour of a single geographic region (North America), one citizenship (11 US citizens out of 30 members), as well as business interests and technical operators, this was played down by several members of the CG as representing a "purely political" dimension and therefore not relevant to the matter in hand which, for them, should remain "purely technical".
To illustrate my point: in London I was given the opportunity ( thank you Alissa ;-) ) to share a few thoughts about the geo-strategic challenges facing the Internet, and their possible implications for the task of the CG. In reaction, there was not a single question or remark: this was not the silence of approval, but a lack of interest in the topic. Rest reassured, I have no personal hangup about this; but I am concerned that the CG seems to be ignoring an important dimension.
SECOND, SUCH A LACK OF CONSIDERATION FOR POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS IS NOT WITHOUT RISK.
In London, through an agreed process, we reached a documented decision in favour of 3 Co-Chairs. After London, some of you considered that you did not like this result, and took the initiative to set up a poll. I mention this topic of Chair structure because it encapsulates several of the problems facing us now.
The composition of our CG is what it is, we're not going to change it now. But we owe it to the global community to show more sensitivity to some wider issues. Are we impervious to the writing on the wall? Quite a few in the global user community consider that the presence of US citizens, already so strong in the CG, would not be justified in the Chair structure and would in fact open our work to easy criticism, whatever the quality of that work. It has also been noted that the presence of business interests (already strongly represented in the CG) would be unjustified and unfair in the chair structure. Let me be clear: this is not about the merits or capacity of any individual, it is about over-representation and conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
Members of the CG should be aware that they are under close scrutiny by the global community, and that the acceptability and credibility of their final plan for transition will also hinge on the perceived process by which this was developed.
It is therefore important to demonstrate to the outside world that we operate in an orderly, efficient and fair fashion, and that we follow agreed processes and abide by our documented decisions. Deciding upon our own leadership structure is an important first test. We need a leadership structure that is the outcome of agreed process and which demonstrates the CG's commitment to its duty to act in the interests of the global stakeholder community.
THIRD, THE WAY FORWARD IS NOT NECESSARILY CONTENTIOUS.
Like all of us on this list, I'm not interested in confining myself to analysis or criticism. Here are my proposals moving forward:
- Membership of the CG: let's just accept it as is.
- Chair structure: for all the reasons already put forward by the ALAC, having 3 Co-Chairs from 3 different geographic regions will garner the widest support from the global community. This can be achieved in a simple and straightforward way by the Interim Chair declaring that the poll (the results of which are in any case open to widely differing interpretations) will be put to one side, that the CG will continue as agreed in London, and by calling for candidates for the 3 Co-Chairs. The timeline should be very short.
- Global public interest: in the future, we need to consciously take into account the way in which our processes and choices may impact not only the operators and clients of the IANA functions, but more generally the global Internet community. This is the only way to ensure that the transition is a durable success.
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