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Regional Internet Registries

internet coordination news

The ICANN Reform Process

The following is a series of mails exchanged between the ICANN Board, the ICANN ERC (Evolution and Reform Committee), the president of ICANN and the Regional Internet Registries.

To: Vint Cerf, Alejandro Pissanty, Stuart Lynn
Subject: The ICANN Reform Process
Date: Friday, September 13, 2002 10:06 AM

This message is being sent to the Chair of ICANN Board, the Chair of the ICANN ERC, and the ICANN President and CEO. It is also being sent to the ERC comment list.

This is to acknowledge the teleconference that occurred on 10 September 2002. Participants were ICANN (Stuart Lynn, Louis Touton) and APNIC (Geoff Huston, Paul Wilson). While the APNIC participants were not speaking on behalf of ARIN and RIPE NCC, they were conveying the intent of the RIRs as stated in the two carefully prepared and coordinated papers commenting on ICANN reform [1] [2]. The APNIC participants of the call did not hear any indication that ICANN was reading these papers nor did they get any specific response to any of the points raised in those position papers. Therefore the RIRs make the following statement:

  1. The RIRs are dismayed with the second interim report [3] of the ICANN E&R Committee in terms of the lack of consideration and response to the submissions of the RIRs to ICANN.
  2. In the light of this, the RIRs are unwilling to accept the proposed changes to the composition of the ASO, the proposed changes to the support mechanisms of the ASO and proposed changes to the role of the ASO within ICANN.
  3. The RIRs will be providing a substantive blueprint for reform within the next several days.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Wilson
Director General

Raymond A. Plzak
President & CEO

Axel Pawlik
Managing Director

Reply from ICANN ERC / Stuart Lynn

Dear Paul, Axel, Ray, and Raul:

Following the discussions Louis and I had last week with Geoff Huston and Paul -- followed by the latest RIR posting -- the ERC has spent considerable time discussing the matter and has decided to post the attached [4] in the hopes of clearing up miscommunications. It will be posted this evening (California time), but I am forwarding it to you now in advance of posting consistent with my note to you last week.

Both the ERC and I appreciate the RIR comments and understand the concerns. We look forward to further dialog, either formal or informal.

Warm regards,

Attachment: ERC Updates Regarding RIR Submissions (PDF) [4]

Stuart Lynn
President and CEO
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Tel: 310-823-9358
Fax: 310-823-8649
Email: [email protected]

Reply from RIR boards to ERC document

Dear Sirs,

I have been requested by the Boards of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) to submit this to ICANN on behalf of the RIRs as a formal response to the Evolution and Reform Committee's recent Update Regarding RIR Submissions [4].


Geoff Huston
APNIC Executive Council


To: Vint Cerf, Alejandro Pissanty, Stuart Lynn
Subject: RIR Response to Evolution and Reform Committee
Date: 25 September 2002

The RIRs have considered the material provided in the Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform Update Regarding RIR Submissions [4].

The Update contained commentary on the ICANN Evolution and Reform process in terms of the position of the RIRs in the process, and added additional commentary relating to the proposals submitted by the RIRs.

The RIRs acknowledge this response as being the first substantive response from the ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee to the RIRs, and while the RIRs are not necessarily in agreement with the perspectives contains in the update, do regard this exchange of views as an essential component of a process that can achieve a mutually agreeable outcome.

The Update notes that the Evolution and Reform Committee has paid careful attention to RIR submissions and statements and has incorporated some of the suggestions in their recommendations [1] [2].

This is not a perspective that is shared by the RIRs. The ICANN Evolution and Reform activity has been regarded by the RIRs as a timely initiative on the part of ICANN. The initial admissions of failure on the part of ICANN in undertaking various roles was a perspective that was shared by the RIRs, and shaped the RIRs thinking on the entire Evolution and Reform activity. Not only has this reform process offered ICANN itself the ability to objectively reassess its objectives and reassess the means to effectively and efficiently achieve these objectives, it has also offered the opportunity for stakeholders in the various ICANN roles to reassess their roles and their means of interaction and relationship with ICANN, with a view to also initiating reform that will produce more effective and efficient outcomes.

It was in this spirit that the RIRs have participated in this reform process, and in this spirit the RIRs have attempted to engage the ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee in a dialogue on the very substantive issues of evolution and reform.

Also, while some of our perspectives may have been incorporated in successive iterations of the Evolution and Reform proposals, matters that are more crucial to achieving substantive and effective outcomes that are more important from the RIRs perspective have not been incorporated into the Evolution and Reform Committee's proposals. The RIRs do not believe that a metric of a tally of proposals and the rate by which such proposals are incorporated into the Evolution and Reform blueprint is an effective way to judge whether a stakeholder's input has been considered within the process. It is more appropriate in the RIRs' view to consider the overall framework and desired outcomes, and attempt to identify changes to roles and responsibilities that would enable enhanced outcomes to the benefit of both ICANN and its stakeholders.

The Update notes that the workload associated with the Evolution and Reform process has not permitted ICANN to respond to every individual comment and submission.

To note that, having initiated this evolution and reform process, ICANN, and this committee in particular, was then in no position to manage the consequent input raises concerns regarding the ability of ICANN to understand the intent of that input and incorporate it as appropriate into ICANN's evolution. Previous experience of similar exercises in the past has indicated a strong level of interest in this area, and the lack of preparedness on the part of ICANN to adequately manage this process is not an encouraging signal.

The evolution process itself was initiated by full and frank admissions from the ICANN CEO that ICANN itself was failing and that a substantive process of evaluation of ICANN's mission and the way in which ICANN is to undertake this mission was necessary. To claim that the input from a major stakeholder in one of ICANN's core missions was not to be responded to due to pressure of overwork is not an adequate message to the ICANN stakeholder community relating to ICANN's ability to correctly or competently manage open and inclusive policy development processes.

From the perspective of the RIR community, it would appear that the careful consideration of issues that impinge on matters drawn from the true breadth and scope of ICANN's role have, once more, been subsumed by the necessarily intricate and voluminous details of balancing various constituencies of the domain name activity. Part of the RIRs' concern over the entire ICANN process, and part of the basis upon which the RIRs were able to agree with the initial statements of failure of ICANN, is based on the observation that the address resource management area receives scant attention from ICANN. The RIRs have proposed to open a dialogue with ICANN on the ways and means by which this area of activity could receive the necessary levels of administrative attention and coordination of open and inclusive policy consideration.

It is evident that the Update illustrates a number of misunderstandings relating to the ICANN Evolution and Reform process, the RIRs, the ASO and the open policy process that is coordinated by the RIRs. The first misunderstanding is on the part of the RIRs due to confusion as to how dialogue within the ICANN Evolution and Reform process would be undertaken.

The RIRs assumed the reform and evolution process would be implemented as an open dialog between ICANN and its stakeholders. To date, this has not been the case. From the perspective of the RIRs, the process used by ICANN has been less open and more rigid, with little by way of feedback that would be typically associated with a dialog.

Specifically, the RIRs did not request that its recommendations simply be included into the ERC recommendations, and indeed did not make submissions that were intended to be included per se. The RIRs in their original submission expressed concern over a number of matters and indicated a willingness to discuss with ICANN the ways in which these concerns may be properly addressed to a level of mutual satisfaction and to the satisfaction of a broader open process of consideration of reform measures.

In examining the Update Response there appears to be an assumption that the anticipated mode of operation of the evolution and reform process was that various stakeholders were anticipated to submit proposals regarding roles and functions through recommendations within such submissions. It appears to have been assumed that the Evolution and Reform Committee was then to arbitrate between such claims and proposals without any form of negotiation of dialogue with the affected parties.

It would seem apparent that such a process often becomes unduly adversarial and places the Evolution and Reform Committee in a position of both being a source of recommendations in itself and attempting to impose a judgment on the recommendations of others, without a due process of dialogue and without a visible attempt to reach a shared understanding of the issues being addressed. It is always a challenging exercise to ensure that such a process can operate effectively, irrespective of the personal intentions and efforts the individuals involved.

As an attempt to engage in dialogue with stakeholders in order to reach a shared understanding of appropriate and necessary evolution and reform measures any objective judgment of the process would conclude that it falls far short of an effective, open, inclusive and fair process.

The second misunderstanding is that the Update claims that the RIRs are of the view that "the ASO is the ICANN body responsible for developing (as distinct from approving) policies with respect to addressing".

This is not the case. The first submission to the Evolution and Reform Committee noted that "The RIRs are not necessarily committed to the continued existence of an Address Council and an Address Supporting Organization in any future structure of ICANN." In the second submission the RIRs noted an interest in discussing a structure where "the ASO undertakes the responsibility for formal adoption of global RIR policies, allowing for open review of such policies as part of its function of review and evaluation".

The RIRs are of the view that the strength of the entire address community policy process is the highly active involvement by the address community in the open inclusive policy meetings that are hosted by the RIRs. The RIRs are of the view that policy development in this deregulated industry structure is best undertaken through open processes that engage the participation of all interested parties, and through a process that is driven to strive for consensus between the interested parties.

The RIRs are of the view that the RIRs are responsible for hosting this open process and documenting its outcomes, and coordinating this activity across the individual RIRs.

The third area of misunderstanding is that the ICANN response appears to take the view that there is some fundamental distinction between global and regional address allocation policies and that there is some fundamental alteration of constituencies when considering these two domains of policy.

The RIRs have been careful to construct a policy development process that is open, accessible, transparent and fair.

Policy is developed within venues that admit any interested party, regardless of membership status, and consensus is developed within this broader community as a necessary precursor to the adoption of RIR policy.

Where there is a requirement for commonality in policy across the RIRs, there has been a consistent effort to ensure that the considerations and perspectives aired within one venue are clearly communicated to the other venues, so that the process of building a broad consensus of support for such policies is one that is open and well-informed.

The RIRs cannot accept the assertion that they are, by their very nature, not "suitably structured to receive, evaluate, and develop consensus positions on those address policies that truly take into account all interests affected by global concerns". Furthermore, the RIRs assert that far from being unsuited to the role, this precise function of hosting the open policy process for the broader address community has been an RIR role since the inception of the RIRs.

Such assertions of unsuitability on the part of the RIRs, and an associated contrast to the assumed role of ICANN, have no foundation in experience. The attempts by ICANN to take up agendas relating to narrow sector interests in address policy have been abortive, and such matters have been ultimately resolved within the realm of the RIRs' open policy meetings.

It is also evident that there is some level of misunderstanding of the RIR position relating to the proposed changes to the management of the unallocated address pool.

At no stage have the RIRs indicated that the objective test regarding allocation of address space from the unallocated number pool to the RIRs should be abandoned or changed. Because it is an objective test rather than a subjective judgment, then in the interests of efficiency and stability of operation the RIRs are arguing that there is no need for this function to be undertaken by ICANN. Given that the operational process is objective, then the RIRs are interested in ensuring efficiency and robustness of the operation of the process.

In sum, we believe that the appropriate solid foundational base for the development of address-related policy in a deregulated private-sector environment is through the use of open inclusive processes where there is a focus on establishing common points of agreement directly within the stakeholder community, rather than a process that solely involves the imposition of policies and rules onto the community or a process that relies solely of adversarial advocacy. The RIRs have been responsible for hosting this policy process for many years, and consider that they have the broad support of the address community in continuing in this role.

The RIRs do not see it as stable or in the best interests of the community that policies duly and responsibly developed by the addressing community must be subject to further review and potential alteration in ICANN-related forums. The risks of hijacking a community's consensus position by narrow sector interests are always present in such a scenario. ICANN has not been successful in achieving any tangible level of engagement with the broad address community, and to assert that ICANN can offer the process a level of review from a broader interested community is not well founded within ICANN's activity profile to date.

The RIRs remain of the view that the assertions of failure of ICANN at the start of 2002 were indeed based on a refreshingly direct and objective summary of the situation. The RIRs are proposing a number of changes to the existing roles and responsibilities that would address aspects of these failures while still ensuring that the essential characteristics of direct open participation in the RIRs' address policy development process is preserved.

We would encourage both the ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee, and the ICANN community to consider the RIR proposals as a positive contribution to not only address some of these admitted failures of ICANN, but to ensure that ICANN and its stakeholder community are not faced with a similar admission of failure in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Wilson
Director General

Raymond A. Plzak
President & CEO

Axel Pawlik
Managing Director


[1] Regional Internet Registry Joint Statement on ICANN Evolution and Reform, 24 April 2002

[2] Regional Internet Registries' Submission to the Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform, 20 June 2002

[3] ERC Second Interim Report:

[4] ERC Updates Regarding RIR Submissions (PDF)

More information on the ICANN reform:

Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform

ICANN links to Relevant Documents and Resources

The RIPE NCC response to the ICANN reform proposal document

Regional Registries System: ICANN and ASO