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Developing countries participation in global IG

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No. 114 Developing countries participation in global IG

rafik dammak


IGF 2014 sub theme that this workshop fall under

Critical Internet Resources


There is an current trend among international IG organisations to work toward more globalisation, bringing and including more stakeholders.

As example, ICANN is increasing its efforts toward globalization and removing the perception of being an US-centric organization by establishing new offices and initiating new outreach projects. However, the main issues regarding developing countries’ participation, including all stakeholders, remain open and unresolved. These include, inter alia, incorporating developing countries’ issues into the policy development process, e.g .for the new gTLD program; under-representation of developing country applicants for gTLDs, and relatively few accredited registrars; and representation in policy development bodies like the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Stakeholders from developing regions often struggle to voice their opinions or to be effective within ICANN. Moreover, concern about developing countries’ challenges and interests has not always been been widely shared across the private sector community.

Accordingly, this workshop will explore such questions as:
1- How do we assess the extent to which the ICANN multistakeholder model for policy development is working for developing countries, particularly with respect to the new gTLDs?
2- How can developing countries’ concerns be systematically included in policy development processes in ICANN and other IG structures?
3- How can developing country participation in the GNSO process be enhanced?
4- How can ICANN become more fully globalized and responsive to the concerns of developing countries’ governments, civil society, business and technical communities?
5- How does the ICANN experience compare with civil society participation in other Internet Governance spaces.
6- What lessons does the ICANN experience offer for developing country participation in other global governance spaces?
7- What lessons can ICANN learn from different experiences in IG structures?

NCSG is the voice of civil society and nonprofit organizations in ICANN’s domain name policy
body, the GNSO, with more than 400 organizational and individual membership. It is composed of two constituencies, Noncommercial Users Constituency and Non ­Profit Operational Constituencies

1- Setting the scene : explaining context and objectives (10min)
2- Panelists' presentations: going through the questions above (25min)
3- Q/A session with the audience (40min)
4- Wrap-up: recommendations & actions (15min)

Name(s) and stakeholder and organizational affiliation(s) of institutional co-organizer(s)

Media Change and Innovation Division, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich; Switzerland , Academia
Non-commercial Users Constituency, Global, Civil Society
Non-for-Profit Operational Concerns, Global, Civil Society
ICANN, USA, Turkey, Singapore, Technical Community

Has the proposer, or any of the co-organizers, organized an IGF workshop before?


The link to the workshop report


Type of session


Duration of proposed session

90 minutes

Subject matter #tags that describe the workshop

#development #diversity #icann #policy #globalization

Names and affiliations (stakeholder group, organization) of speakers the proposer is planning to invite

William Drake, Civil society, Non-commercial Users Constituency, Confirmed
Olga Cavalli, Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Confirmed
Rudi Vansnick, Civil Society, Non-for-Profit Operational Concerns, Confirmed
Baher Esmat, Technical community, ICANN, Confirmed
Ephraim Percy Kenyanito, Accessnow, Civil Society, Confirmed
Izumi Okutani, Technical community, JPNIC, Confirmed

Name of Moderator(s)

rafik dammak

Name of Remote Moderator(s)

Vladimir Radunovic

Description of how the proposer plan to facilitate discussion amongst speakers, audience members and remote participants

The moderator will set the scene and introduce the topic to the audience. Each panelist will have 5 minutes to explain her point of view regarding the topic (no powerpoint or only one slide allowed), then in the next round each panelist will pick workshop questions to respond . We will allocate more time for Q/A session for the audience (around 70 minutes)

Description of the proposer's plans for remote participation

No information provided

Background paper

background paper

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

Panelists raised several issues and perspectives:

It is very easy for people from ICANN to go into insular discussions with themselves and it is important to broaden the discussion and draw similarities. ICANN has tried to increase its sensitivity and responsiveness to non dominant actors in IG process. But there is need to talk about how to build development in and a lot more work is to be done. There is a need to engage the community more, though outreach is hard. Despite this it is recognised that the Developing country presence in global internet governance is crucial and should take many forms. One critical area being DNS policy creation and the build out of the DNS industry with add on services.

IG organisations have been pushing in the direction of outreach to increase participation and representation from the developing world. However, the participation and representation benchmarks are no longer the only suitable measure of success of these initiatives; developing country representatives with the support of IG organisations must be able to facilitate the stable and secure growth of the Internet and DNS industry in their countries. For the DNS the new benchmarks must be specific targets on the growth of the industry, registrations, new gTLDs, accredited registrars and registries.

IG organisations need to transition to encourage this growth. Within ICANN (including the GNSO is where the meat of policy takes place) the developing countries are still a minority voice and mechanisms to support their representatives compete with what are considered higher priorities. There is a sacrifice in time, cost and energy to be present, representative and to engage in policy creation. For now there is little knowledge of capitalisation of IG issues to recruit the best talent and to bring all developing country representatives on board.

For instance, in the last round of new gTLDs, the application fee was still too high for many developing world applicants to take advantage of the Applicant Support Program demonstrating that even such a well intentioned program was out of touch with reality.
By supporting such cross-geographic communities of interest ICANN is attempting to act as a facilitator in building synergies and proficiency to encourage participation in the GNSO process; as well as get initial feedback on developing country issues. However this initiative must be complemented with other programs to get representatives of developing countries in the door. There has to be an investment by the community in order to create this growth and create equity so that we can fill the room and join the discussion.

Also through ICANN's cross community working groups it has encouraged civil society participation to become more communal and on par with other stakeholders. This is something that should be encouraged in IG multi-stakeholder engagement to ensure true representation and open communication.

If internet governance organisations want to support developing country engagement they they need to do a deep dive in assessing why the internet and the DNS industry has not reached these areas. For instance, Latin America has a lack of development in the IG internet ecosystem. There are no gTLD, many ccTLDs, a little over 20 applications in the new round and have 10 registrars. The Registries and registrars are not around, so there is not so much interest in critical internet resource issues. This part of the industry is not so well developed.

Specific to ICANN does need to take further advantage of the leveraging its volunteers, through their networks, knowledge and reputation in order to promote its Mission and Core Values
in particular for the preservation and enhancement of the operational stability, security and global interoperability of the Internet with respect for creativity, innovation, and flow of information. In becoming more sensitive to the wider fundamental IG issues supporting developing countries ICANN can better factor the extent of resources that are required specific to the particular environment making the organisation more responsive and truly globalised.

The multilingualism of the internet this ensures that all stakeholders are involved and respectful of language and culture of developing countries. The Global digital divide needs to be reduced to ensure representation, for instance the global internet community needs to facilitate .africa getting into this space.

There is a need to provide remote hubs, fellowships, mentorship, educate and coordinate to represent opinions. ICANN offers meeting fellowships, representational balance through the NOMCOM selection process, provision of Applicant support in the last round of new gTLDs, encouragement of local hubs to follow ICANN meetings and comment in the public forum, increased physical staff and offices in developing countries, as well as registrar services guidance.

Regional balance is okay but often there is no active participation due to lack of interest in developing policies in domain names or technical details. It is important to share things to discuss and that participation is open. The counter argument was made to this statement that it was not lack of interest but the prohibitively difficult mechanisms to participate remotely.

- How to ensure developing countries are included in the ICANN GNSO PDP process?

This issue is not a big deal for big cities as they don’t see the point. However, some names like .amazon or .patagonia have increased awareness and it has been good for the GAC since more representatives came on board.
One difficulty is measuring impact. If the metric is developing country actors coming in on the supply side for gTLDs then it’s not so much. Perhaps local market demand, and not just the function of the gTLD applicant program needs to be the driver. The demand side of the users impacts across the commercial and non commercial so it is useful to create greater engagement in the business side.

- How do you incorporate developing countries in ICANN space? How are the regional strategies working or not and what are the global outreach efforts?

Measuring impact is not always easy but there are mechanisms to improve participation from developing countries some efforts relate to regional strategies. We started to see more information in terms of quantity and new faces coming to ICANN. The new ones are not the active participants and have to take time to become active participants. There are different programs such as the CROPP program that allows ICANN members to speak on ICANN and this has been in play for the past year; CROPP complements the fellowship program. Also the Next Generation ICANN program is for newcomers to ICANN. On the business side have a business engagement plan have specific KPIs such as number of comments etc.

The Regional Hubs such as the Asia Pacific regional hub is of benefit as if you are able to discuss in your local community with fellow minded people this will help form opinions. ICANN should help facilitate locally and can reach out to stakeholder groups to share topics relevant to specific groups to encourage engagement.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

As conclusion, there was a general agreement that outreach should be improved and we need to go beyond that to work more on participation and engagement : lowering the barriers to get more people involved in policy-making process i.e. in the different supporting organizations, in working groups etc. it is time for ICANN to listen to the feedback and the comments and improve its own strategies by working, consulting and involving the stakeholders.
it was also highlighted that we need better metrics to assess and evaluate all those initiatives more objectively.

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop


Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

it was not seen as related to the workshop’s theme and was not raised

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

No information provided

Reported by

No information provided

Workshop transcript


Youtube video



No attachments provided

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