[council] Re: [registrars] Terms of Reference for GNSO review

Ross Wm. Rader ross at tucows.com
Thu Aug 25 03:27:35 UTC 2005

The registrar constituency has begun formulating its views on the 
proposed terms of reference and the Board's review of the GNSO. This is 
neither a complete nor official document and does not represent a 
consensus or majority view of the constituency. It solely represents the 
early views of those few who have responded to the request for comments. 
Other registrars have indicated that they also wish to provide 
commentary, but have not been able to do so in the time provided. We 
will continue to gather feedback and input on this document and ensure 
that Council remains informed regarding this progress.

While incomplete, we hope that this adds value to tomorrow's discussion.

Review TOR Comments:

page 3, "Representativeness"

- - regarding whether or not there are barriers to the participation all
who are willing to contribute to the work of the GNSO. This should be
clarified to specify "inappropriate barriers". The registrar
constituency, for instance, has a set of bylaws that limits membership
to accredited registrars. It would be inappropriate if the GNSO had this
same limitation. Further, we should also seek to understand the extent
of the value of the GNSO's other participatory mechanisms such as public
forums at physical meetings, the public comments processes within the
PDP and the capability for like-minded parties to form new constituencies.

- - regarding whether the ICANN community is satisfied with the policy
advice it receives from the GNSO. This needs to be amended to question
whether the ICANN Board is satisfied with the policy recommendations it
receives from the GNSO. The GNSO doesn't provide policy outside of the 
PDP, of which the board is the sole recipient.

- - regarding whether other supporting organizations and advisory
committees have effective opportunities to participate in the policy
development process. This question may be more useful if we seek to
discover perceptions by asking in a modified format if these other
bodies "believe they have an effective opportunity to participate...".
While somewhat unquantifiable, it will likely uncover additional ways
that we can accomodate the unique requirements of these groups in our
processes. Specific examination of the perceived relevancy of the
constituency input process and public input process to these other
groups would be useful.

page 3, "Authority"

- - regarding whether the GNSO Council Bylaws need amending in any way.
The answer to this question should come as one of the possible results
of this review. It is unclear what we seek to discover by simply asking
whether or not the bylaws need to be amended and therefore, the question
should either be made more specific or probably more appropriately, just
removed entirely.

page 4, "Authority"

- - regarding whether there is fairness within the constituencies. This 
is a very soft and subjective question. It would be useful to define 
what is intended by the term "fairness" or undertake a more detailed
examination of the constituencies and there processes to ensure that the
question is done justice. In the absence of a definition or detailed
examination, it may suffice to simply test perceptions by asking whether
or not the processes in question are "fair", and if not, why.

- - regarding whether weighted voting skews policy outcomes. Of course 
it does. This is why it was implemented. This question should be 
replaced with one that attempts to discover if the objectives behind 
weighted voting are being met and whether or not adjustments to the 
weighting should be made.

- - regarding an examination of the appropriateness and effectiveness of
the relationships between ICANN staff and the constituencies. This
should be expanded to include the relationships between ICANN staff and
the council, ICANN board and the council and ICANN board and the

page 4, "Effectiveness"

- - regarding an examination of the benefit to all affected parties of 
the use of ICANN time and resource in developing policy positions. It is
unclear what aspect of ICANN this question is probing. ICANN Staff?
Community? GNSO? Board? This should be clarified. Further, this question
should be expanded to include an examination of the effectiveness of the
GNSO Staff Manager and the administrative and operational support
provided by ICANN staff per Article X. Section 4.1. and 4.2 of the bylaws.

- - regarding whether or not the PDP process should be amended. Again, 
as with the bylaws amendments, these answers should come as a result of
this process. To the extent that the PDP is being analysed, specific
attention should be focused on whether or not the Board, the GNSO and
other stakeholders prefer to focus on the process or the output. In
other words, a lot of the complaints about the PDP relate to the amount
of time that it takes to create and implement policy. It is not well
understood if this is a failure of the process or a natural function of
the complexity of the specific issue being examined.

- - regarding whether an analysis is required about whether ICANN is
satisfied with the advice it receives from the constituencies. This
question does not reflect GNSO processes. It should be clarified to
state whether or not the ICANN Board is satisfied with the policy
recommendations it receives from the Council and possibly expanded to
include a question asking whether or not the Council is satisfied with
the participation that it sees from the constituencies.

page 4, "Transparency"

- - regarding whether policy decisions are made in a way which
demonstrates that participants are accountable to the Internet
community. This question needs to be clarified to adequately define the
term "accountable". Policy decisions are made by ICANN's board. To the
extent that the GNSO participants assist in developing recommedations
for the board, they typically represent specific interests or entities
within the process - not the internet community in general. Generally
speaking, this is done with the intent of improving the policies by
which we pursue ICANN's mandate, but it is unclear that the GNSO has a
specific accountability to the general internet community.

It would be useful to also seek to understand the nature and role of the
various accountabilities - actual and desired - between the GNSO, the
council, the constituencies, staff and board.

Further, this question seeks answers regarding the use of "statements of
interest". This is an undefined term and may be taken to mean the use of
statement of conflicts of interest or statements of stakeholder impact.
To the extent this is referring to the former, we should seek to
discover the degree to which these are used within the GNSO today and
better understand whether or not current disclosure practices are

page 5, "Quantifying Representativeness, Authority, Effectiveness &

- - regarding measuring these concepts objectively and subjectively. 
Small clarification - the comparisons described should be made against 
other *similar* organizations.

- - regarding the examination of the PDP. Additional measurement of 
actual process output should be contemplated, specifically, impact and
effectiveness of implemented policies and so on.

page 5, "Capturing and Mapping Perceptions"

- - regarding interpretation and examination of the use of concepts used
in the Bylaws. This question should specify where the application of
these concepts will be measure (i.e. w/ in constituency processes, w/ in
council processes, w/ in the GNSO as a whole, etc.)

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