Draft Statement ALAC

Public Comment Announcement: Proposed Recommendations for a Global Outreach Program (ends 10 April 11)

Please add your comments through Friday, 1 April.

An ALAC vote will begin on Monday, 5 April.

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 internet Internet community, users in ordinary included.  


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  1. I've done minor typo corrections in red/strikethrough. Good work, Carlton.

  2. Anonymous

    One notes in the FY2011 Budget Framework that ICANN has allocated $7,190,000 to the category entitled “Global Engagement and Increasing International Participation”.  While this engagement currently targets increased participation by ccTLDs in the ccNSO, increased ccTLD accountability frameworks, increased government participation in the GAC and the provision of training and education to the Internet community in the growing ICANN regions; mention is also briefly made of the need to support the At Large community.

    The proposal currently under consideration, the GNSO’s Global Outreach Program, is a broad-based plan that in no uncertain terms will assuredly compete with the ALAC for both member candidates and outreach funding – as such, this program represents a significant risk that has not been properly detailed in the ALAC’s recent SWOT analysis.

    As I am unaware of any current plans that call for a significant increase in funds for this particular budget category, I can only conclude that this GNSO proposal can potentially have the effect of further reducing the scant amount of funds now available for usage by the At Large.

    The list of initiatives to be funded through this Program is extensive, ranging from financial assistance for new constituency start-up efforts to long-term capacity-building and learning programs.  In short, the GNSO is asking for a hefty slice of the funding pie. 

    The obvious questions for the ALAC are these:  are you satisfied with the meager amount of funds that trickle down for current ALAC initiatives?  Do you realistically expect to receive funding for another At-Large Summit?  Have a sufficient amount of dollars been provided for regional General Assemblies?  Have you received funding for representation at regional and international Internet events?  Have you received any funds for capacity building events?

    How will you fare if your funding is cut further as a result of the need to accommodate the GNSO’s Global Outreach Program?  How will reduced funding for the At Large impact the end-user community?

    While I appreciate the fact that expanding the breadth, depth, and diversity of the directly participating stakeholder/volunteer communities is an ICANN strategic priority, I also recognize that current funding levels for the At Large needed to be maintained and/or augmented, and that the GNSO’s proposal has the very real potential to negatively impact ALAC funding levels.  I would advise the ALAC to raise this concern.

    Danny Younger

    1. Danny:

      Thanks very much for your usual thoughtful interventions.  You are absolutely right for two reasons.  Any call for outreach funding for GNSO will naturally result in competition for what ICANN will say is a limited budget for purpose.  And to be frank, the At-Large has not batted well here; you raised some examples that are not controversial to anyone, if we know the genesis of the requests and the corresponding outcomes.   Historically and until now, results of At-Large funding requests to ICANN for any purpose have a) never been satisfied in full  b) Never tracked our priorities c) Never addressed all of the elements in any given are that has attracted funding.

      The responses open to the At-Large could be b) Call ICANN names, the penny-pinching bastards!  2) Develop what in my area of the world we call 'red eye'...meaning envy...and thrash the GNSO for greed  3) Locate the common objective, adopt and co-opt.

      The statement took the third view: We recommended that the GNSO 1) Reorient its outreach posture to end user engagement 2) help themselves to the At-Large's Outreach Plan, as adopted 3) Use the ALAC as an active collaborator in any aborator in their outreach program they would wish to develop.

      Having framed the perspective that informs the content and if you see any specific area where you would wish to offer a revision of outlook or even offer a fourth sober perspective, please don't hesitate to provide the verbiage, I shall be happy to include it in the draft for the community's advice and consent.

      Kind regards,

      Carlton Samuels