Commission Paper 1: A more effective GAC

The Commission‘s first paper is posted here at

In section 1, the general description of the issue, the complaint appears to reduce to the fact that involvement in ICANN is complex, time-consuming and difficult to keep up with. Well . . . .EXACTLY! This is the exact same issue we have been wrestling with in the other constituiences. When the paper’s author says “efficient work flow process and dedicated support from a professional and adequately resourced [GAC] secretariat” is required, how can we possibly disagree?

Incidentally, that’s not to say that we don’t get such support in our own constituencies — I’ve been particularly impressed by the support given to the Delegation and Redelegation and Framework of Interpretation Working Groups of the ccNSO in recent months.

A note of caution though. It does not seem obvious to me that GAC consensus must necessarily always represent ‘the global public interest’.

Indeed, I am not sure that it’s easy to identify the global public interest in many areas. Compare and contrast China’s public policy on freedom of expression with that if the USA, for example.  A consensus within GAC on freedom of expression issues which including China, must necessarily be a compromise and thereby inevitably water down the strong protections of the First Amendment or Article 11 of the European Union Charter. Syria, and up until a few weeks ago Libya will have had other opinions about ‘the public interest’ too!

But these are not new issues. The Foreign Ministers of the Member States and other countries square such circles daily.

The crucial issue arises when it is said that:

“There needs to be agreement at the political level that GAC members will commit sufficient resources to GAC processes and be represented at a sufficiently high level to ensure the political legitimacy of GAC advice”.

Here I couldn’t agree more.

Such an agreement, at the political level, would appear to be in everyone’s interest, whether you are looking at this from the public or private sector.

Regrettably ICANN (the corporation) has neither the power, the jurisdiction, nor the competence to achieve that goal.

I hope that agreement and those resources can indeed be found at the political level.




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