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Comments to ICANN on Discussion Draft: Affirmative Reviews

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Por Willie Currie (APC)
, March 2010

This is APC’s response to the ICANN public comment process on its draft proposal on the Affirmation of Commitments review process. This is the process in the AoC to set up four review processes and the parameters for their operations.

APC supports the participatory evaluation approach to the Affirmation reviews, which ICANN has put forward in its draft proposal.

We see, however, a contradiction between this participatory approach and the limits on the composition of review teams to seven- eight members. While we appreciate the argument that a small team may be more manageable, we do not think that it will necessarily be more effective. The review teams will be subject to intense scrutiny, from the broad public as well as the ICANN community. Questions of the extent to which both the public interest and the ICANN community are represented will influence perceptions of the review team’s output.

We therefore support the view that the size of the review teams be increased. We propose that each Advisory Committee and Supporting Organisation should put forward three (or more) members to the review team. We further recommend that there be three independent experts, with expertise in the following fields:

Political theory with regard to the governance of complex eco-systems

  • Cultural anthropology
  • Institutional economics.

We feel that such expertise will add a certain richness to the review process and perhaps produce unexpected but valuable insights.

In addition, we propose, from a public interest perspective, that the review team should also include three stakeholders from organisations representing the private sector, civil society and the international community. This together with the presence of the independent experts will counteract any possibility of group think emerging with respect to the outputs of the review team. If the review team does not have this additional dimension, then it will be open to credibility problems, if it is perceived to have produced a ‘soft’ review — a review that is contaminated by its own internality. Including a UN organisation may be a controversial step because of the poor perception of the UN in the ICANN community, but it would add to the credibility and value of the review as a whole.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Willie Currie
Communications and Information Policy Programme Manager
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

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