[ALAC] Fwd: ICANN News Alert -- ICANN Consolidated Meetings Strategy Proposal

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Oct 4 14:33:37 UTC 2012

I just posted this on the wiki:

Gone are the days when ICANN would sit back, like the olympics, and be
courted by governments wanting to demonstrate their geek cred. So if ICANN
gets to pick the locations, it's sensible to have a transparent rationale
for its choices. Not sure I agree with this particular process, but it's a
useful step.

As ICANN is looking to hold its meetings at convention centres (with nearby
hotels) rather than within the hotels themselves, the number of cities
capable of accommodating meetings is still rather high (and indeed this was
the model used in Brussels and Nairobi). So that isn't a significantly
limiting factor.

So far, the intent of having the meetings in different cities appeared to
be five-fold:

   1. Appear to the public to be globally engaged, to counter ICANN's legal
   status as a California corporation
   2. Engage the local community in ICANN issues
   3. Expose ICANN and its usual stakeholders to a global diversity of
   needs and sensitivities
   4. Be less expensive to attend (at least to the one-in-five meetings in
   your region)
   5. Allow host cities and/or governments to show off their Internet savvy
   to the world

So let's examine how well these are working:

*Appear to the public to be globally engaged:*  As a public relations
tactic the current roadshow presents an image of a globally active ICANN.
Yet the reality is that ICANN meetings are, by and large, the same
rich-world group of vested interests and lawyers following ICANN around
wherever it goes. And the results of all these years of travel are ICANN
policies that still act as if the global south doesn't exist. So maybe the
issue here is that nobody's being fooled anymore, so perhaps ICANN should
drop its pretences.

 *Engage the local community:  *I guess I just don't see it. A handful of
local NGOs and governments attend shows who otherwise wouldn't participate,
but the reality is that this effect is far more claimed than realized. How
many ALSs have joined as a direct result of an organization attending a
local ICANN meeting? Shock exposure of the local community to ICANN
meetings dominated by experienced, aggressive players and full of technical
jargon is not what I'd consider an optimal form of outreach. If ICANN would
budget for preparatory meetings to engage communities in advance, this
might be worthwhile. But this is not happening. So what we have is an
expensive charade.

*Expose ICANN participants to diverse needs and sensitivities*: Nice
intent, no proof that there's anything to this outside of delegates getting
a taste of local food (and whatever culture they can glean from the Gala).
And maybe some local comments injected into the Public Forum (which, like
most other comments at the forum, are for the speakers' benefit and not the

*Be less expensive to attend* Nope. For every person who saves money by
going to Durban or Cartagena, a hundred more are paying double or triple
what it would cost to go to a global hub city. In terms of the sheer
practicality, it might actually be less expensive to have an AFRALO general
assembly in Paris than in the region (ditto for LACRALO and Miami) – but
that's the fault of the travel industry, not ICANN.

*Allow hosts to show off their Internet savvy*: I'd say that pool is pretty
well exhausted. ICANN now struggles just to find hosts willing to bear the
costs of the Gala. Nobody needs ICANN anymore for publicity; indeed, given
the noise in WCIT and elsewhere, it seems that ICANN may be actively
shunned by some of the very places where it *should* be for the purposes
listed above (Moscow, for instance).
Anyway... this is just food for thought as we determine a response.

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