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GAC Meetings Report 2002

The Government Advisory Committee meeting ran from Sunday 27 October through to late Tuesday 29 October. It was attended by 32 representatives of national governments or public administrations (which included Hong Kong and Taipei) and international treaty organisations (ITU, EU and OECD). It was noteworthy that most delegations were considerably stronger than previous GAC meetings I have attended: the US had four representatives, headed by a very senior DoC official, the EU three and many other countries at least two and often more. The meeting was held in an atmosphere of serious concern about the way ICANN has been seen to be drifting and failing in its principal responsibilities to carry out the 'IANA functions' associated with care of the Internet root servers. Internet issues are increasingly a matter of discussion at a wide range of international intergovernmental fora such as meetings of APEC (especially the Telecommunications and Information Working Group [TEL]) and the ITU. The ITU Plenepotentiary 2002 meeting in October passed a greatly strengthened Resolution 102 which called for greater efforts on the part of the ITU secretariat to participate in matters for which ICANN is responsible.

The principle item for discussion was ICANN reform, especially looking at reform of the GAC and its role in a restructured ICANN. Nevertheless there were other important items on the agenda: IPv6 implementation, relationships with the IETF, multi-lingual domain names (of especial importance to Japan, Korea and the various Chinese political entities). The second joint (and closed) meeting with the ccTLD representatives - the first was a new innovation at the Bucharest meeting - was very successful.

The main highlights are summarised in the communique -- see

Most of the discussion on restructuring involved consideration of a series of draft amendments to the ICANN bylaws, principally those concerning the GAC itself. These are attached to the communique. The overall effect, assuming they are adopted, would be to place the GAC onto a more equal footing with the ICANN Board which is required to give reasons if it chooses not to adopt GAC recommendations. One very significant change is to allow the GAC to amend its own charter, effectively giving it an existence independent of ICANN so that if it wished it could interact independently with, for example, a ccTLD organisation. The GAC expressed concern at the poor progress made by ICANN in reaching agreements with ccTLD managers and progressing redelegations even in cases where there are no disputes. It was also shared the concerns of the ccTLDs that the root server databases contained errors and at the delays in correcting these errors. These should be seen as sharp criticisms and strong support for the ccTLD concerns about these issues.

Frank March

© 2001 InternetNZ
Last updated 05 November 2002

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