During ICANN Durban, I attended the Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) 10 year anniversary celebrations.
ICANN Chairman, Dr Steve Crocker, was on hand to congratulate the ccNSO on their 10 years and revered them as the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.
Post Durban, I was reviewing notes and I came across a similar statement made during a ccNSO session that country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) “represent the best functioning multi-stakeholder model” in the ICANN ecosystem.
Is this entirely accurate? Is the ccNSO really the golden child of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model?
While there is no doubt that the ccNSO has been instrumental in influencing policy development and championing change for their cause, are they really ICANN’s “true multi-stakeholders”?
When I first started attending ICANN meetings back in 2001 representing the Australian Government as the coordinator of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), ccTLDs were pretty much sitting outside the tent. There was considerable distrust between the ccTLD community and ICANN at the time and regular meetings between the ccTLD operators and the GAC could be rather frosty events.
In 2005, when I joined ICANN staff as policy support for the ccNSO, relationships were slowly mending and both the ccTLDs and ICANN were recognising the mutual benefits of having ccTLD operators inside the ICANN tent.
So against this background, it is a tremendous achievement that the ccNSO is now well-established and an important contributor in the ICANN community.
However, the ccNSO has a stronger focus on collaboration, information sharing and best practice adoption, rather than a true aspiration for the Policy Development Process (PDP) that underpins a multi-stakeholder model. This is in large part because the participation of a ccTLD registry operator in the ccNSO and ICANN — and adoption of any policies that might be developed — is on a ‘voluntary’ basis.