Whether you have expertise in an area of GNSO deliberation, or a driving interest in it, or both, you can become part of the solution by volunteering to join a GNSO Working Group or Drafting Team.
To know when the GNSO is calling for volunteers to form a Working Group or Drafting Team, watch the Announcements page on ICANN’s web site (these also show up on the ICANN.org home page), or watch the GNSO’s own home page. Calls for volunteers show up there regularly. Finally, you can also learn of groups forming by reading about them in the monthly Policy Update. Sometimes it may be possible to join a group already in progress, but doing so would require you to catch up with the work, research, and discussion the group has already covered. Your best opportunity is to join a group as it is forming.
In general, anyone can join a GNSO Working Group or Drafting Team. When you learn of a group you want to join, the general procedure to follow is:
- Send an email to the GNSO secretariat expressing your interest in joining the group. The Secretariat is obligated to verify you are a “real person,” and will contact you in return.
- Next, the Secretariat will ask you for a Statement of Interest (SOI). In this document, you publicly disclose who you work for and any other business attachments that might affect how you vote on generic domain name issues. You cannot be disqualified from the group based on your SOI. It is posted so that others in the Working Group can understand what factors may influence your viewpoint. You will also be able to see the SOI of every other person in the Working Group.
- Most Working Groups boast members that are widely dispersed geographically, so the primary means of meeting is via international teleconferences and online resources. The phone calls use conference bridge numbers that usually generate no or low cost to you. Once a new Working Group is ready to convene, the Secretariat will send you dial-in details.
What Are My Responsibilities as a Group Member?
In addition to attending meetings, you may be asked to assist in specific tasks such as researching an issue, managing a survey, or drafting a report. Examples of member responsibilities include:
- Develop and draft working-group documents,
- Contribute ideas and knowledge to working group discussions,
- Act as liaisons between the Working Group and their respective stakeholder groups or constituencies,
- Ensure that stakeholder group or constituency statements are developed in an informed and timely way,
- Actively and constructively participate in the consensus decision making process
You should be aware that all Working Groups are normally expected to operate under the principles of transparency and openness, which means that mailing lists are publicly archived, meetings are normally recorded and/or transcribed, and the public will be able to listen to or read your contribution. This is how the public can hold ICANN accountable for its work.
How Much Time Must I Commit?
Each Working Group is unique. Most meet either once a week or once every other week. Some work under a tight deadline of mere weeks; others might persist for more than a year. The “Call for Volunteers” announcement will usually indicate the scope of expected service. No one can force you to take on more work than you choose to.
To be clear, Working Groups address tough issues and require a high level of collaboration with people of all types and cultures. You will probably enjoy the work more if you stick to areas of particular interest, and seek to participate in no more than a moderate number of groups. As a volunteer, you will also gain greater insight into how Internet policy is formed; a keen awareness of near-future developments that affect users worldwide; and an opportunity to meet volunteers of similar interest from many different countries.
Further details on how Working Groups are expected to function can be found in the GNSO Working Group Guidelines which are part of the GNSO Operating Procedures.