The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) has been heavily criticized on its latest new gTLD advice to DotConnectAfrica’s application. During the recently concluded ICANN 50 international meeting, the GAC provided new advice through London Communiqué asking the following:
- The ICANN Board to provide timely communication to the affected parties, in particular to provide clarity on the process and possible timelines;
- The ICANN Board that, following the release of the IRP recommendation, the Board should act expeditiously in prioritising their deliberations and delegate .africa pursuant to the registry agreement signed between ICANN and ZACR.
DotConnectAfrica has however stated that the advice
“demonstrates both the African Union’s inappropriate efforts to determine the outcome of the applications for .africa and ICANN’s improper acquiescence to the GAC’s demands.”
This quite unnecessary advice has been received in the midst of an ongoing independent review process, where DotConnectAfrica has requested further determination of the status surrounding the mal treatment of its application at the hands of the ICANN board and GAC. The IRP panel issued an interim order directing ICANN not to take any further action on the UniForum/ZACR application, since delegation of .africa to ZACR would effectively deny DCA any remedy whatsoever.
DCA Trusts response to the advice also mentioned the latest flurry of activity and communication between the AU and ICANN as well as the demands t the ICANN 50 GAC meeting as an attempt by the AUC using the GAC to pressure ICANN to take actions favoring its own candidate for .africa, UniForum/ZACR. It is also amazing that ICANN did not approve of DCA v. ICANN and promising to proceed expeditiously with delegating .africa to ZACR and the AUC as soon as would appear appropriate following the IRP.
That’s communication includes:
o During the ICANN Press Conference on June 24, 2014, Mr. Chehadé publicly cast the IRP as a battle waged by DCA’s founder Sophia Bekele against the entire African Union, obscuring the actual parties and issues in the IRP.
o At the ICANN Public Forum on June 26, 2014, Mike Silber of the ICANN Board publicly championed the current CEO of ZACR, “my friend Lucky Masilela” in his tirade against the DCA v. ICANN IRP, agreeing with Masilela that “It’s unfortunate that [ZACR’s] effort has been hamstrung by initiatives which are not positive” and assuring him that ICANN is working expeditiously to resolve the IRP and avoid further delay in delegating .africa to ZACR.
The GAC advice response has also demonstrated GAC and African Union’s inability to use the available public knowledge on the IRP to inform their demands. DotConnectAfrica’s response also states that as
“GAC is advising ICANN to provide confidential information to the AUC and UniForum/ZACR concerning this proceeding; such advice is highly inappropriate and jeopardizes the integrity of the IRP proceedings”
DotConnectAfrica’s application has faced numerous protracted efforts to diminish its chances of operating the .africa continental top level domain, however the applicant has fought all opposition and has especially managed to exhaust all available avenues through the IRP process.
DotConnectAfrica has also found the GAC’s Advice telling ICANN to “act expeditiously” to delegate .africa to ZACR on release of the IRP recommendation, (regardless of what the Panel decides as as “highly inappropriate”. It assumes that the IRP concerning .africa is mere window dressing, an empty formality put in place so that ICANN can claim that it is meeting its obligations of transparency and accountability, but which will have no effect whatsoever on the presumptive delegation of .africa to the party favored by the GAC.”
DotConnectAfrica has also made demands on GAC’s operational structure as additional observations on the education of GAC Representatives on the ICANN process which they are intended to comment and advise upon.
The response adds that Nonetheless, if the GAC representatives lack an understanding of ICANN, the onus is on ICANN itself, as the organization which created the GAC and is supposedly supported by the GAC and its policy advice, to ensure that GAC representatives are properly educated and that GAC advice is based upon thorough understandings of the ICANN policies it comments upon.
Based upon the GAC’s recent actions and advice, DCA has asked a raft of questions to ICANN concerning :
GAC representatives’ knowledge and competence, GAC Training, GAC Voting mechanism, Conflicts of Interest.
DCA Trust concludes that
“Based upon these concerns and for the above noted reasons, we object to the GAC’s advice as improper and betraying a failure on the part of ICANN to adequately educate and inform GAC representatives. We expect ICANN to decline to follow the London GAC Advice with regard to .africa, consistent with its obligations under the Bylaws and other documents governing ICANN and the IRP”
The complete DCA’s GAC Response is available here http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/DotConnectAfrica-Trust-GAC-Response-August-3-2014.pdf and it becomes the 2nd Advice that DCA Trust is responding to after the ICANN Beijing Advice that was highly contented and criticized.