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No. 185 ICANN Globalization and the Affirmation of Commitments

Propose's Nationality: ITALY

Proposer's Country of Residence: NETHERLANDS

Nationality of Organisation Virtual Organization

IGF 2014 sub theme that this workshop fall under

Critical Internet Resources


In 2009, ICANN entered into an Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) with the US Department of Commerce (DOC). The AOC promotes ICANN’s accountability to the global Internet community, e.g. through a system of multistakeholder reviews of its performance in relation to public interest criteria. But it also moderated rather than ended the exclusive relationship between ICANN and the DOC, and affirmed ICANN’s commitment to remain a nonprofit corporation headquartered in the US with offices around the world. Now, with ICANN’s accelerating globalization efforts and the DOC’s announced desire to transition its role regarding the IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community, new and pressing questions are being raised about the AOC and its potential alternatives.

The NonCommercial Users Constituency of ICANN (94 civil society organizations and 252 individuals in 81 countries) proposes this workshop to explore some of these questions. Should the bilateral relationship be replaced by a “Web of Affirmation of Commitments” between ICANN and the world’s governments and relevant nongovernmental actors, as advocated by an ICANN Strategy Panel? Could the US role simply be removed from the equation, rather than being replaced by formal agreements with other parties? Would another arrangement better promote globalization and multistakeholderism while preserving the security, stability and unity of the Internet? How far can ICANN’s globalization be advanced while preserving ICANN’s legal status and nexus of contractual relationships? Could the innovative AOC serve as a model for other global Internet governance issue-areas? The workshop would bring together architects of the AOC with other leading proponents of ICANN’s globalization.

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

Carlos Affonso
Academia/Civil Society
Rio Institute for Technology and Society (ITS)

Paul Diaz
Technical Community
The Public Interest Registry

William J. Drake
Academia/Civil Society
Media Change and Innovation Division, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich; & The Noncommercial Users Constituency

Lee Hibbard
Intergovernmental Organisations
The Council of Europe

Thomas Schneider
Federal Office of Communication, Government of Switzerland

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

#internetgovernance #AoC #ICANN #NCUC

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

Fiona Alexander
Associate Administrator (Head of Office) for International Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce, Government of the United States

Vint Cerf
Private Sector
Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, USA

Anriette Esterhuysen
Civil Society
Executive Director, Association for Progressive Communications, South Africa

Amb. Benedicto Fonseca Filho
Director, Department of Scientific and Technological Themes, Ministry of External Relations, Government of Brazil

Paul Levins
Private Sector
President, Intellectual Ventures, Australia/ New Zealand

Name of Moderator(s)

William J. Drake, Chair, Noncommercial Users Constituency

Name of Remote Moderator(s)

Stefania Milan, Noncommercial Users Constituency

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

To make the discussion as interactive and participatory as possible, the workshop would eschew the model of serial talking heads giving detailed stand-alone presentations. In advance of the meeting, the moderator and panelists would agree online to a baseline set of questions to be addressed. The workshop would begin with brief opening position statements from the panelists, followed by interactive, “talk show” style discussion of the questions, prompted by the moderator. About half-way through the session, the floor would be opened to bring the in-room and remote participants into the conversation.

Description of the proposer's plans for remote participation

The moderator will pose questions to the in-room and remote participants. The remote moderator will convey any interventions by remote participants.

Background paper

No background paper provided

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

Workshop #185 "ICANN Globalization and the Affirmation of Commitments” was held on Wednesday the 3rd of September in the morning. Over 120 people attended and the discussion was lively and focused. The panelists explored the implications for the future of the AoC of ICANN’s globalization efforts. Fiona Alexander of the US NTIA and Paul Levins (formerly of ICANN) described the Affirmation’s development and noted that while it is formally a bilateral agreement the commitments it entails are to the entire multistakeholder community. Vint Cerf of Google advocated creating a “web of affirmations” with other governments and nongovernmental participants in ICANN. Amb. Benedicto Fonseca of Brazil and Anriette Esterhuysen of the Association of Progressive Communications emphasized the need for external accountability to the wider population of internet users, beyond the ICANN community.

The debate that followed was lively. Some audience members and panelists supported the idea of ICANN entering into a “web of affirmations,” others suggested a simple sign-on to a standard document, and still others that relevant portions simply be incorporated into the ICANN bylaws.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

There was agreement that this workshop constituted just the beginning of a much needed discussion, and that there is a pressing need to continue to assess the Affirmations of Committements’ future in a globalized institutional environment which includes not only governments but also nongovernmental actors and goes beyond the ICANN community.

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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