ICANN’s Accountability in the Wake of the IANA Functions Stewardship Transition

by Steve Crocker on May 6, 2014

Ever since the NTIA announced its intention to transition the stewardship of the IANA functions, the ICANN Community, our Board, and ICANN’s leadership all have been in agreement that a process on ICANN’s overall accountability is needed. This process should look at from an organizational perspective, whether and how ICANN’s broader accountability mechanisms should be strengthened to address the absence of its historical contractual relationship to the U.S. Government.

AT the recent NETmundial meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil, our President and CEO, Fadi Chehadé, announced that ICANN would launch such a process – one that would be community-driven – the details of which have been put out for public dialogue and community feedback.

I can say that the framing of this process and how it relates to the other, recently- launched process on the transition of IANA stewardship itself, are top priorities for the Board and me. As Fadi noted in Sao Paulo, the two are closely interrelated and will run in parallel.   Our handling of these processes will be closely scrutinized.

Enhancing ICANN’s accountability is key to the success of the IANA functions stewardship transition process. We must be accountable to the global community beyond our role as the administrator of the IANA functions.

This process will take an inventory of our existing accountability mechanisms, such as the Affirmation of Commitments; examine if and how they should be strengthened, as well explore the needs for new mechanisms. More generally, the process will examine what new or enhanced accountability mechanisms will be necessary in the absence of ICANN’s historical contractual relationship to the U.S. Government.

The two processes, however, will run on separate tracks. Though open to all, the accountability process will take place mainly within the ICANN community, whereas the process on the transition of the IANA functions stewardship will occur across multiple fora. ICANN’s role in the latter is also limited to that of a convener and facilitator.

These developments come at a critical juncture as the discussion on the evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem has gained considerable momentum.  More importantly, the global multistakeholder community has signaled its readiness to engage in inclusive, collaborative decision-making processes to achieve tangible results. 

The community is encouraged to provide input on the proposed ICANN accountability process and a number of related questions.

The full announcement on the accountability process can be found here.

The public comment period is open and the deadline for input is 27 May 2014 (23:59 UTC).

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