By the Staff of ICANN
The following text was drafted by Wendy Seltzer on behalf of the North-American Regional At-Large Organisation (NARALO) and published on 17 November 2009. Evan Leibovitch, Chair of NARALO, submitted the Statement to the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) on 24 November 2009 and asked the Committee to consider endorsing the Statement as an official ALAC Statement.
(end of introduction)
Statement to the Nominating Committee Review Working Group
By the North American Regional At-Large Organization of ICANN (NARALO)
The NomCom Review Finalization Working Group has requested comments on its Recommendation 10, regarding the nominating committee's size and composition.
NARALO recommends that the NomCom retain the current five voting delegates from ALAC.
The current NomCom includes five members appointed by ALAC, one from each geographic region, along with seven from GNSO constituencies, and five from other SOs and technical advisory groups. The WG's strawman proposal reduces the ALAC representatives to three, rotating among the regions (and thus ensuring that two regions are unrepresented through this means), while preserving nearly all of the other delegations. Moreover, the decrease in ALAC NomCom members is predicated by the appointment of one At-Large voting Director, while the gNSO will have an estimated six members (assuming one per contracted party stakeholder group and two per non-contracted party stakeholder group) despite it having TWO voting Directors.
NARALO believes that this reduction in ALAC representation is unwise from the standpoints of geographic diversity, the broad range of ICANN issues beyond generic names, and representation of the at-large Internet-using public.
- ALAC's representatives assure the NomCom a degree of geographic diversity that no other selection means provides. Outreach to potential recruits and assessment of regionally relevant qualifications are important responsibilities of the NomCom. ALAC's five regionally diverse appointments (Bylaws XI.2.4.e) ensure that the NomCom will have at least one member from each of ICANN's geographic regions.
- ALAC's remit is wider than that of the GNSO constituencies, whose selection forms the largest part of the NomCom. ALAC's delegates to the NomCom may have expertise or mandates reaching beyond the generic names into the other areas of ICANN focus (addressing, ccTLDs), and help to broaden the search and selection to include candidates with expertise in those areas.
- The ALAC delegates to the NomCom fulfill part of ICANN's initial promise to represent the individual Internet user. The NomCom is currently the most democratic means of selection within ICANN – anyone can apply for an appointment through NomCom, and all applicants are considered by a diverse multi-stakeholder group. Individual Internet users, who were initially promised half the voting directors on the Board, but now have fewer than other SOs and ACs, should be given substantial voice in this selection channel. Even when ALAC is granted one voting director, as the Board has agreed in principle (though we cannot know how long that process will take) that single vote on the Board does not substitute for NomCom representation. The WG recognizes that Board members' fiduciary duties to the organization supersede any membership or allegiance to an originating body. While members of the NomCom are not free to consult on specific nominees with their selecting organization, they may be given more guidance. As the voices of individual Internet users vary, a selection of five helps to bring the at-large's diversity of viewpoints into the NomCom's selection process.
We believe that the NomCom's current size is closer to optimal than a smaller group would be, but if the WG is looking for cuts, it could eliminate the double representation of the Business Constituency, and select GNSO representatives from Stakeholder Groups rather than Constituencies.
Along with the general recommendation above, we offer the following answers to the WG's specific questions:
How do various part of the ICANN community value the current size of the NomCom?
NARALO supports the current size. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
To what extent does the trust that is placed in the nominating committee depend on direct representation of stakeholder groups on the committee?
Since we cannot see inside much of the process, due to strongly-enforced confidentiality assertions, we can only judge its inputs and outputs. Delegating five members from the representative of the at-large Internet using public gives us trust that the inputs are representative of and attentive to indivduals' interests and concerns.
What mechanisms might serve to ensure geographic and other diversity goals (gender, background ...) within the NomCom, given that its membership is appointed independently by different ICANN entities?
The current ALAC selections assure geographic diversity of its five delegates. A reduction in number would weaken that contribution toward diversity.
What objectives can be realistically set and what measures adopted for achieving gender balance in the NomCom and – through the NomCom processes – in the Board?
The NomCom and its agents (search firms, staff) should be given a broad outreach mandate, and required to pull in at least 30 female candidates (as compared to last year's 15). The current gender imbalance (only one female voting board member among 15) is a visible signal that the various outreach and selection processes have failed to attract sufficiently diverse qualified candidates – and a strong indicator that diversity of other less visible characteristics than gender is likely missing from the pool as well.