[At-Large] ICANN Accountability Mechanisms

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Thu Dec 30 20:45:34 UTC 2021

In the ~10 years I attended ICANN meetings my impression was that
there was a lot of talent and knowledge by participants in governance.
Much more than, for example, the technical organizations I've been
involved in.

Governance is an actual field of knowledge and not just a way to
describe results for better or worse. "You cut, I choose, the rest is
commentary" to paraphrase Hillel.

Yet despite that knowledge there seemed to be a broad resistance to
implementing sound governance practices. Those in any position to do
so seemed to take an attitude that any such implementation would
threaten what they imagined were their own "insider" advantages.

Not surprisingly due to lack of sound governance and accountability
this tended to backfire on any such plans as the organization grew to
the point that the administrative activities trumped policy and
overarching principled considerations often only honored in the

To use a term recently popular in US government circles ICANN grew a
"deep state".

There was an edifice of individuals, mostly the same individuals over
and over, with titles which would appear to be in a position to
implement sound governance yet seemed repelled by it lest it threaten
their own interests.

And there was a large and ever-growing, and quite necessary,
administrative bureaucracy who, again not unlike criticisms of the US
government, saw that edifice as short-timers (perhaps not individually
but in their shifting titles and roles), part-timers, mostly unpaid
volunteers (or paid by external, interested parties), often acting as
a mutual admiration society, and with perhaps nothing better to do
than try to meddle in that administrative bureaucracy on which many
millions of dollars and much detailed implementation responsibility

It's not surprising, to me, that we are where we are. Particularly in
an organization without any ties to a plebiscite.

        -Barry Shein

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