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Module 2a – Working Group Operations

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Executive Summary


  • An ICANN Working Group (WG) is a group of volunteers formed to accomplish a specific assignment. The entity that creates a WG is its Chartering Organization (CO).
  • Within the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), the GNSO Council creates WGs for various purposes, including the development of policies regarding generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for proposal to the ICANN Board.
  • The GNSO Working Group Guidelines outline “best practices” for the formation, chartering and operation of GNSO WGs. It is recommended that Council members and anyone interested in joining a GNSO WG read these guidelines in their entirety.
  • This document summarizes only the guidelines regarding the ongoing operation of GSNO WGs. Separate documents summarize the formation and chartering of GNSO WGs and a guide for new WG Chairs.

Purpose of a GNSO Working Group

  • The general purpose of a GNSO WG is to accomplish a chartered task by enlisting broad participation from throughout the Internet community.

Role of GNSO Council and Council Members Regarding GNSO Working Groups

  • The Council develops and approves a GNSO WG’s Charter. The Charter is expected to provide the WG with clear direction, including a specific objective and proposed timeline.
  • The Council must confirm the WG Chair or Co-Chairs selected by the WG members.
  • Each Council member is encouraged to solicit WG volunteers from his/her Stakeholder Group or Constituency.
  • A Council member may serve on a WG, serve as a WG’s officer or serve as the GNSO Council Liaison to the WG.

Prospective GNSO Working Group Members

  • A GNSO WG typically welcomes anyone as a member who is interested in productively contributing, whether from the GNSO, elsewhere in the ICANN or outside of ICANN.
  • The only requirement for a prospective WG member is the submission of a Statement of Interest (SOI). (Please see the GNSO Statements of Interest main wiki page.)

Early in a Working Group's Life

  • The first meeting of a WG typically includes the selection of WG officers; a review of the WG’s Charter, transparency policy, and other relevant documents; and the assignment of the drafting of the WG’s work plan.

Working Group Member Roles and Responsibilities

  • A GNSO WG should have a Chair or Co-Chairs; it may also select a Vice-Chair or Vice-Chairs and/or Secretary.
  • The GNSO Council usually selects a Council member as a Liaison to the WG.
  • All WG members, assisted by Staff, are responsible for drafting WG documents in a way that represents the diversity of views within the WG and within any input received during consultations, including any ICANN public comment periods.
  • A WG member from the GNSO is also encouraged to act as a WG liaison to his/her Stakeholder Group or Constituency.

Working Group Norms

  • GNSO WG members can actively participate via a WG’s meetings and/or mailing list.
  • The membership of a GNSO WG is ideally expected to mirror the diversity of the GNSO Council and the GNSO, as well as include representatives from other ICANN Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs), as appropriate.
  • In its formal reports, a GNSO WG should include an indication of the level of agreement behind each of its recommendations with a standardized designation, such as “full consensus” or “divergence.” Any WG member can contest any of these chosen designations. (For details, see Section 3.6 of the GNSO Working Group Guidelines).
  • An appeals process is available for any WG member with a serious complaint (for example, if a member believes his/her contributions are being systematically ignored or discounted). (For details, see Section 3.7 of the GNSO Working Group Guidelines).