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Jonathan Robinson Looks to ICANN54 and Beyond

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ICANN 54 in Dublin is upon us and with it will come all the usual challenges and opportunities as well as a significant overlay. It is the annual meeting so it is busy in any event, and a time of change on the GNSO Council, including the election of a new chair. The Dublin meeting also comes at a time of considerable effort by the broader community to bring the work of the Cross Community Working Group on enhancing ICANN Accountability towards and effective conclusion.

The GNSO Council preparation has, as ever for ICANN meetings, been focussed on ensuring that the myriad policy related activities are in good shape to be reviewed and progressed to the next logical stage in the process. The GNSO Council, as manager of the policy development process within the GNSO, arranges a full schedule over the weekend before the ICANN meeting opens on Monday and we use that time to review and revise key current policy development and related activities within the GNSO. The meetings are open to all to attend, either in person or online, and we welcome participation and interaction from all. A briefing on the current work is prepared ahead of the ICANN meeting and can be viewed here.

The in-person ICANN meetings also provide valuable opportunities for a variety of cross-community interactions. The GNSO Council meets with the ICANN staff, management and executives on various topics as well as with the ICANN Board, typically on previously agreed topics. The Council also benefits from, and helps to facilitate, a range of valuable interactions between the GNSO and other ICANN Supporting Organisations and Advisory Committees. Recent work with the Country Code Names Supporting Organisation has benefited from a focus on cross-community working group activities and recent work with the Government Advisory Committee has benefitted substantially from the formation and operation of a joint GNSO / GAC Consultation Group as well as the appointment of a GNSO Liaison to the GAC.

Of course, the annual meeting also includes the rotation of Councillors who have served their term and so the Council is refreshed with some new members from the various stakeholder groups and constituencies, as well as those councillors who are appointed via ICANN's nominating committee (3 seats). The change in the Council takes place formally on Wednesday after the initial GNSO Council meeting where the main formal business of the meeting is conducted. The new GNSO Council is then seated and a chair elected. The Dublin meeting will include a wrap-up session on Thursday and then a full day indication and development session on Friday. A full week indeed!

ICANN 54 in Dublin is also a time when the broader community is aware of the necessary requirement to come together and continue to make significant progress towards the complete package of measures associated with the transition of IANA stewardship from the US Government to the global multi-stakeholder community. Many in the community have been massively stretched as we worked the long-hours to build linked proposals for transition of the IANA stewardship and to enhance ICANN's accountability, almost certainly at the expense of more routine policy related or other work. The GNSO is a chartering organisation of each of the related cross community working groups on the IANA Stewardship Transition and Enhanced ICANN Accountability and, as such, will need to support the eventual outcomes from these working groups in order for them to proceed. The Council has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the respective stakeholder groups and constituencies represented by councillors, remain fully informed and engaged. Ultimately, we need to know and be satisfied that, consensus positions have been developed and appropriate compromises have been made when necessary, so that we can then go on to approve a proposal that is bottom-up and multi-stakeholder, as well as fit for purpose and able to withstand the test of time.