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The Multi-stakeholder Approach to Internet Governance – a Model to Replace Multilateralism?

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 3:30 pm

ICANN is an internationally organised, non-profit, multi-stakeholder organisation that coordinates policy for issuing Internet protocol addresses (IP addresses) and domain names, among other critical functions known collectively as the Domain Name System (DNS). These names and addresses are essential for the functioning of the Internet. They allow us to find resources online, send email to the right person, enable and maintain the global interoperability of the individual networks that combine to create the Internet and give us the most powerful communications medium humankind has enjoyed to date. 

Reflecting the origins of the Internet as a U.S. government research project, for many years ICANN operated under U.S. government oversight. The United States' particular role in the DNS and critical Internet resources has been a point of contention for more than a decade and made Internet governance a controversial topic on the international political agenda. 

One topic of the presentation will be the recent successful transition of oversight of the DNS from the United States government to ICANN and the global Internet community. The success of the transition is an example of the strength of the multi-stakeholder governance model, supporters argue it proves the appropriateness of this approach for the development of policy for the Internet more broadly.   

The presentation will describe ICANN's multi-stakeholder approach and ICANN's community of stakeholders, and how during the transition process Internet users from across the globe came together to develop a set of measures to enhance the organisation's accountability and transparency. The ICANN community continues to work on further enhancements, for example developing mechanisms to ensure greater diversity in ICANN, to further strengthen mechanisms for appeal and redress, to introduce a commitment to human rights in ICANN's operating principles, and discussion of the organisation's jurisdiction.

ICANN's model is open and inclusive and anyone with an interest in any of the issues the community is working on is welcome and invited to participate and to contribute.

Adam Peake is responsible for ICANN's relations with civil society organizations, including academia, supporting non-commercial participation in ICANN's multi-stakeholder model. He also worked on enhancing ICANN accountability activities that were an integral part of the IANA transition. Before joining ICANN in December 2014, Adam spent more than two decades as a senior researcher at the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM), International University of Japan, where he worked on projects related to telecommunications and Internet policy. Adam has been active in policy-making activities for the deployment and development of the Internet since the early 1990s. He was one of the lead civil society representatives during WSIS, IGF and NETmundial.

External to ICANN, Adam is a Senior Visiting Researcher, Keio International Center for Internet and Society, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan, and Associate Executive Research Fellow, Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM), International University of Japan, Tokyo, Japan.