[At-Large] The visa to Canada and fall of participation

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Oct 28 06:45:57 UTC 2019

Hi Satish,

> In addition to all the benefits mentioned, remote meetings will also save
> on the enormous carbon emissions that our meetings seem to cause (as per
> the ICANN CEO's recent blog).


However, in a recent conversation with the CEO, we were told that ICANN
> does not foresee any change in its meeting strategy in the short run, which
> means we have to still seek ways to improve the visa process, especially
> for participants from the Developing World.

There are two issues here: At-Large Summits and ICANN meetings in general.

It is within our capacity now to commit ATLAS IV to be virtual, which gives
plenty of time to plan and test. (Indeed, given the massively lower cost
and improved access, virtual Summits could be held every year.)

Meanwhile, it is my opinion that ALAC should be advancing very strong
Advice to the Board to hasten the virtualisation of its meetings. This is
not only a developing-world issue, it's one with real consequences
worldwide.  The current meeting policy impairs developing-world access well
beyond  the visa issue. Visa problems are irrelevant to those who want to
attend but can't afford to go and are not deemed worthy of subsidy; virtual
meetings eliminate these barriers for all.

Currently, only the financially motivated and the subsidized can attend
ICANN meetings with regularity; under this situation the vested interests
overwhelm the meetings, from working groups to the Public Forum to private
invitation-only side-events which trade influence for cocktails. Making
ICANN meetings virtual greatly reduces this unbalanced access to the ICANN
Board, staff and policy apparatus. Not only do virtual meetings eliminate
attendance barriers for the developing world, they also reduce the
imbalance between he public interest and the domain industry. Imagine if
every ALS were able to attend every ICANN meeting as easily as any
registrar! It's no wonder that the establishment wants to maintain this
imbalance despite claims of inclusiveness.

The experiences witnessed in this thread suggest that ALAC may want to
advance this issue up the CEO's priority list. How badly do we want the
barriers removed.?


As for short term help, ICANN Constituency Travel has been grappling with
this issue for decades. ICANN itself can't be expected to understand local
visa issues everywhere they have meetings, and very very few countries have
no entry restrictions
ICANN 68 will be in a country that denies all access to people from Israel,
period. ICANN 67 and ICANN 70 will be held in a country that requires visas
from almost all of Africa and Asia (*except* for Israelis, for which entry
is visa-free) and has 27 fewer embassies than Canada. ICANN 72 will be in a
country that might approve your visa but still turn you away at the point
of entry after demanding to see your phone's social media posting
And not everyone has an easy time getting into Schengen, either.

It's unlikely that these meeting locations, already approved by the Board,
are likely to change. So what can be done?

What is crucial is to have a good local host for each meeting with
governmental connections. At ICANN 42 in Toronto almost exactly seven years
ago, the local ccTLD (CIRA) was heavily involved as host and I don't recall
any visa problems. (Indeed that meeting was either the first or second time
ever that an At-Large event was hosted at an ALAC member's home -- mine).
Next week's meeting host is the dot-quebec geoTLD
<http://rendez-vousmontreal66.quebec/> -- have they been involved at all in
facilitating anyone's visa issues? If not that's a problem, they should be
the ones with local knowledge, willing to provide advice or make

So ... in the short term, demand that ICANN has a reliable local hosts for
each meeting who will be expected to support -- and intervene on behalf of
-- visa applications. In the medium term and beyond, ALAC needs to push for
virtual meetings on a general principle of inclusivity.


I was asked for solutions; these are mine. You may now resume the
gratuitous Canada-bashing and petition-starting, while determining if those
constitute solutions.

- Evan
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