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Internet Governance 2 March 2016

The IANA Stewardship Transition: All Eyes Turn Toward Marrakech (ICANN 55)

Konstantinos Komaitis
By Konstantinos KomaitisSenior Director, Policy Development and Strategy

When in March 14, 2014, the NTIA announced its intention to step away from its historical oversight role over the IANA functions, something extraordinary happened. A global dialogue immediately ensued.

The first part of this dialogue is expected to come to an end in the forthcoming ICANN annual meeting in Marrakech next week. After two years of vigorous discussions, the Internet community says it is now ready to move to the next part of the process – implementation. But, before we start thinking about this next, crucial part of this process, let’s pause for a moment and think what the Internet community has achieved so far.

First, it has demonstrated that collaboration is key for the Internet. It is very difficult to imagine another way of discussing IANA other than the one employed by the various communities. Very soon it became very clear that answers to the complex questions about IANA could only come from the collaboration of as many stakeholders as possible. So, in terms of bringing diverse communities and ideas forward, what the discussions have achieved is really unprecedented.

The second thing this process did was to reaffirm the value of consensus. Consensus works in blocks – you start with an issue and you work through each block via consensus until the issue is exhausted. It is a slow, yet efficient, way to address complex issues. Consensus also works through compromise and a shared goal. In this case, the goal of a successful transition has become the focal point around which stakeholders have assembled for the past two years.

Then, there is the coordination that took place. Small and large working groups, email lists, teleconferences and face-to-face meetings were set as part of a well-coordinated effort to ensure that information was equally distributed. Coordination amongst groups grew organically and allowed for more focus. The IANA Coordination Group (ICG) took on the task to produce the final proposal, while the various communities were going through their individual processes.

These processes have all been transparent, inclusive and accountable. Stakeholders conducted their discussions in an open manner; if you wanted to be part of the dialogue, the only thing you had to do was just join. Anything less would just not have worked. This realization accompanied the participants throughout the entire process.

Given these takeaways, next week the community should trust itself and submit the final proposal to the NTIA. There is no time for more delays – the NTIA has to receive the proposal so it starts its own process of review and the necessary implementation details are worked out before the contract expires.

With a High Level Governmental meeting and numerous sessions on IANA and ICANN accountability scheduled and, an expectation that part I of the IANA journey we be ending on March 10, over the next week all eyes of the entire Internet community will turn to Marrakech.


To stay up-to-date on Internet Society activities in Marrakech, please visit our ICANN 55 event page throughout the week.

Image credit: Sofiane Belghali on Flickr CC BY NC

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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