[council] On the use of 'fairness'

Michael D. Palage michael at palage.com
Fri Aug 26 03:57:05 UTC 2005


I appreciate your well thought out statement on the term fairness.
However, I also found Grant's comments compelling during today's call.
So I have spent some time trying to reconcile this apparent difference
of opinion. In part I have this spare time because Hurricane Katrina has
knocked out my broadband connection, although I fortunately still have

Your opening analysis of fairness being a "relative" notion is in fact I
believe directly related to another "relative" notion and that is of
trust. Even though the Luxemburg meeting was completed almost six weeks
ago, I still think about how the term lack of trust was repeated so many
times by so many people. I "think" what some council members fear is
that based upon the lack of trust that may still linger in some people's
mind, they are concerned that any relative notion of fairness may be one
sided. I really believe that is the 8000 pound (3600 kilo) elephant in
the room that no one wants to talk about.

Now because there remains a lack of trust, the question now turns to how
does one engage in an evaluation process where fairness is such a key
component. I do not have a simple answer to this question. However, we
(ICANN Board, staff, and GNSO Council and its constituencies) have an
obligation to make it work for the benefit of the organization as a
whole. One of the reasons I am taking such an active interest in this
process, is because the GNSO is where I came from and where I will
return when my service on the Board has been completed. This is my
"home" and I have an direct past, present, and future interest to make
sure that this evaluation is done is an fair, open and transparent

The reason I have hope for this process, is that ICANN and the community
have been through some tough times in the past, i.e. formation 1999,
VeriSign contract renegotiation of 2001, WLS, etc. Despite some of the
tension that these events may have generated, the people/stakeholders
which are ICANN's greatest asset came together, survived and pushed

Based on the call today, I believe it is critical that this evaluation
process have clear criteria and methodology for each requirement that we
are trying to evaluate.  More importantly these criteria and methodology
must be in place to prevent the criticism that many of the applicants
and community had with regard to Telcordia report. Specifically, that
the some of the criteria/methodology used were not clearly announced

As always I welcome the comments/feedback from the council.

Best regards,

Michael D. Palage
P.S. Broadband connection restored for now :-)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-council at gnso.icann.org [mailto:owner-council at gnso.icann.org]
On Behalf Of Avri Doria
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 5:03 PM
To: council at gnso.icann.org
Subject: [council] On the use of 'fairness'


To reiterate, and go further, on my comment about not exorcising the  
word 'fairness' from the frames of reference.

I believe that the importance of the concept and term fairness stems   
from the relative notion of fairness, i.e. something is not fair  
unless both sides see something as fair from their subjective  
viewpoint. Nothing can automatically be called fair from one side of  
an issue.  The importance of this is that it keeps every actor aware  
that they must take the perspective of the other into account.  I  
think that this is also something that falls on the ombus-process if  
the actors cannot agree on the fairness of something, i.e. it goes to  
an impartial venue that can take all pints of view into account.

Additionally the notion of fairness is set in the core values of  
ICANN which is supposed to motivate our actions within the  
organization and the council.  To indicate that this notion does not  
apply to the council or to a review of the council's work may give  
the appearance of setting ourselves outside the core values.  this is  
probably an appearance we should try to avoid.

I also think that item 4(a) under H

> Interpretation and examination of the use of concepts used in the
> By Laws such as "open and transparent manner", "fairness",  
> "consensus", "bottom-up policy development" is required.

indicates that the concepts involved in determining fairness should  
be explicit and examined.  I think this is important as it not only  
serves to make the word understandable, but then gives the ombus- 
office criteria it can use when having to determine whether a claim  
of unfairness is justified.

Bascially I think that the requirement is such that in every  
situation the precise content of what makes something fair or not  
cannot be defined before hand.  the requirement for fairness, forces  
the council to due diligence in terms of inspecting all sides of  
every issue.


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