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No. 249 Civil Society in ICANN’s Multistakeholderism: The GNSO Case

William Drake
U. of Zurich



Principles of Multi-stakeholder Cooperation

There is a need to move past general rhetoric and empirically assess how different models of multistakeholderism actually work in settings devoted to decision making rather than just dialogue.  How well do different models structure interaction, enable and constrain stakeholder participation, promote collective learning and mutual understanding, and incentivize actors to negotiate successful outcomes?  In particular, how do these models work with respect to global civil society, the stakeholder group with the fewest material resources and institutional capacities to draw on in pressing its views?  This workshop will explore these and related questions by focusing on a key case study: the role of civil society actors in ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).  The GNSO community drives the Policy Development Process for generic top level domains, and its Council votes and takes decisions to manage that process.  

The three lead proposers of this workshop---The Noncommercial Stakeholders Group, and its two constituencies, the Noncommercial Users Constituency and the Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency---together comprise over 300 organizational and individual members, and they elect six members to the 23-member GNSO Council.  These Councillors coordinate with the membership, propose and vote on motions, and negotiate with the Councillors representing the registries, registrars, intellectual property interests, business users, and Internet service providers.  In addition, members of the NCSG and its constituencies adopt position statements and participate in GNSO Working Groups, Public Comment Periods, other avenues of engagement within ICANN.  

This workshop will provide an overview and assessment of the institutional structures, processes, and outcomes of noncommercial actors’ participation in the GNSO. A multistakeholder dialogue involving ICANN participants from civil society, business, government and the Board of Directors will consider the ways in which the ICANN model enables and constrains civil society participation in decision making, both generally and with respect to particular key initiatives like the New gTLD Program.   The workshop also will outline the opportunities available to newcomers who might like to get involved in ICANN, particularly from developing countries; and consider whether the GNSO experience offers any generalizable lessons for civil society participation in global Internet governance processes more generally.

Has the proponent organised a workshop with a similar subject during past IGF meetings?


Background Paper

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Session Type




Mr. William Drake, Noncommercial Users Constituency, ICANN , Civil Society

Ms. Robin Gross, Noncommercial Stakeholders Group, ICANN, Civil Society, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Mr. Brian Cute, .ORG, The Public Interest Registry , Technical Community

Mr. Hartmut Glaser, CGI.br , Government, BRAZIL, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULAC

Ms. Olga Cavalli, Government of Argentina, Government, ARGENTINA, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULAC

Ms. TBD Other co-organizers pending

Ms. Marie-laure Lemineur, Chair of NPOC, Civil Society, COSTA RICA, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULAC

Have the Proponent or any of the co-organisers organised an IGF workshop before?


The link(s) to the workshop report(s)







Panellists and Moderator

Invited panellists, individuals and organisations

= panellist or organisation has been confirmed

Please clock on Biography to view the biography of panelllist

Robin Gross, Executive Director, IP Justice; Chair, Noncommercial Stakeholders Group, ICANN, Female, Civil Society, UNITED STATES, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG, ModeratorBiography

Olga Cavalli, Representative to the Governance Advisory Committee, Government of Argentina; and former Vice Chair of the GNSO Council , Female, Government, ARGENTINA, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULACBiography

Bertrand de la Chapelle, Program Director, International Diplomatic Academy; member of the Board of Directors, ICANN, Male, Technical Community, FRANCE, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOGBiography

William Drake, International Fellow and Lecturer, University of Zurich; Chair, Noncommercial Users Constituency, ICANN , Male, Civil Society, SWITZERLAND, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOGBiography

Stephan Van Gelder, Consultant; former Chair of the GNSO Council, ICANN, Male, Private Sector, FRANCE, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOGBiography

Marie-laure Lemineur, Chair of NPOC, Female, Civil Society, COSTA RICA, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULACBiography

Avri Doria, Independent Consultant, Female, Civil Society, UNITED STATES, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOGBiography


Robin Gross

Remote Moderator

Avri Doria


1.Introduction & overview by the moderator
2.Opening comments by the panelists based on pre-agreed list of guiding questions
3.Moderator poses integrative questions to panelists, inviting them to react to each others' comments, clarify areas of (dis)agreement, etc.
4.Open discussion with Bali and remote audience participants (minimum 30 minutes)

Inclusiveness of the Session

The session will be run in highly interactive, moderator-driven "talk show" format.  The moderator is experienced in running such events and in keeping speakers on time.  There will be at least 20 minutes for question and answer with the on-site and remotely participating audiences.

Suitability for Remote Participation

The Moderator will be in close contact with the Remote Moderator to ensure that remote participants' questions and comments are incorporated into the discussion.

Questions or Comments

The Title of this workshop was already truncated once to fit the CMS' character limit in the preliminary round.  Now the CMS will not accept the same title that it accepted previously!  The complete title of this workshop should be shown on the program as follows:

Civil Society in ICANN’s Multistakeholder Model: The Case of the GNSO.

Thank you

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