The At-Large Advisory Committee is pleased to submit these comments on the proposed global outreach initiative of the GNSO Council.
In its recommendation for the GNSO Council’s operational improvements, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) Working Group (WG) advised new rules for the Policy Development Process (PDP) specifically in context of the adoption of a working group model. The BGC was clinical with the rationale for its outlook: greater flexibility in the process enabled by “public discussion, fact-finding, and expert research in order to define properly the scope, objective and schedule for a specific policy development goal, and the development of metrics for measuring success”. Coming on the heels of the London School of Economics (LSE) study which opined that GNSO “policy development activities should become more visible and transparent to a wider range of stakeholders”, the BGC WG declared itself keen to see involvement of “interested stakeholders” maximized in the policy development process. It has supported more thorough and insistent communications between the GNSO Council on the one hand and its constituent parts, other SO’s and AC’s, in preparation for the policy development operations of working groups. This is a clear case for what we, the representatives of the At-Large would term ‘in-reach’. In all of this, we have discerned only a muted concern for the travails of ordinary Internet end users. We believe it would be most useful for them to be messaged directly.
The ALAC is conscious of the truism implied: policy is developed at the centre but its impact is resoundingly felt at the edges. In our view, more education and communication from the centre regarding the policy development process in general and the more information returned to the centre on the effects of these policies as implemented on every area of the Internet ecosystem – including ordinary Internet end users - are major building blocks for the transparency framework that ICANN must operationalize if it is to be truly internationalized. We are further seized of the prospects for greater trust engendered for ICANN at the edge - where the At-Large constituents live and work - with public embrace of mechanisms instituted for greater accountability.
For these reasons, we heartily endorse the GNSO’s Global Outreach program with a clarifying proviso;: that the needs of ordinary internet Internet end users for education and information be embraced as a central theme of its development. The BGC WG advised collaboration with a like-minded SO or AC for the development of a winning outreach strategy with implementable outreach programs. The ALAC is pleased to offer the At-Large resources in this regard. To begin, we offer the summary At-Large declarations on global outreach at its Summit held at the 34th International Meeting in Mexico City for advice and guidance. [See:http://www.atlarge.icann.org/files/atlarge/correspondence-05mar09-en.pdf]. We are especially keen to draw your attention to the chapter on Global outreach contained here.
The ALAC has observed over time the zealousness with which the GNSO protects its pole position for policy-making in ICANN councils. The Board Governance Committee in its wisdom rightly recognizes inclusiveness as even more important for sustainability and legitimacy of this posture. We are unanimous that a sustained global outreach initiative would be a worthy investment for the returns that shall accrue to all parts of the global internetInternet community, users in ordinary included.