ICANN 53 is taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 21-25, 2015. We anticipate a very full week of policy and operations-related discussions. Highlights are likely to include:

  1. ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé’s resignation – While Chehadé will not be stepping down until March 2016, the ICANN community is already thinking about who will replace him and how his successor might influence ICANN’s next chapter, which will include such significant changes as the implementation of organizational accountability reforms;
  2. ICANN Accountability Reforms – In support of the IANA functions contract transition, ICANN will undergo a number of internal accountability reforms proposed by a cross-community working group (CWG). In the future, this CWG model may become more widely used for policy development processes at ICANN;
  3. Country names at the second level – On the heels of a (still-ongoing) debate about the use of two-letter domain names in new gTLDs (something that brands have been watching closely), the GAC is responding to the great interest of new gTLD owners in using country and territory names at the second level and will hold discussions on the topic at ICANN 53;
  4. Second round of the New gTLD Program – The ICANN community is working hard to ensure that the next round and required prior reviews of the first round are on-time.

Fadi Chehadé’s Resignation

In May 2015, Fadi Chehadé, current ICANN CEO, citing personal reasons, announced that he would be stepping down from his role in March 2016. Although Chehadé will remain available, at the Board’s request, to support the organization in the lead-up to the IANA transition, the search for a new CEO will informally kick off at the Buenos Aires meeting, which will feature a dedicated session on the topic.

Many within the ICANN community see the choice of Chehadé’s successor as an important part of ICANN’s impending accountability reforms, recognizing that the person next selected to lead ICANN will have a significant role in the implementation of some of the new accountability mechanisms. That said, the community itself does not typically have any input into the CEO hiring process.

ICANN Accountability Reforms

As with recent ICANN public meetings, discussions on ICANN accountability reforms and the IANA transition will feature prominently. Beginning on the Thursday before ICANN 53, members of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) will hold dedicated working sessions; deliberations will continue throughout the meeting during public information sessions.

The Cross Community Work Group (CWG) model used to develop the community’s IANA transition proposal has garnered significant support within the community for its inclusiveness and effectiveness. The model, which allows for diverse stakeholders to be involved in policy development processes from the beginning, rather than at the end, is already used elsewhere to decide what to do with contention set auction funds; it appears that the model may be used more widely in the future.

Country Names at the Second Level

The use of country names at the second level will also be a topic of discussion in Buenos Aires.

Following a number of Registry Service Evaluation Process (RESP) requests regarding registration of country/territory names at the second level of new gTLDs, ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) recently began outlining some details of a process for Registries to request the use these names. In Buenos Aires, the Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG) and the GAC will work together to hash out further details of this process.

Second Round of the New gTLD Program

Finally, ICANN continues its deliberate march toward a second round of new gTLD applications, with members of the ICANN community playing their part to ensure that the next round adheres to stated timelines.

During the meeting, the Discussion Group that has been exploring policy issues that need to be addressed before the second round will lead their first public session on the topic. The group also expects an Issue Report to emerge from this meeting, which is the first step in ICANN’s formal Policy Development Process.

Stay Tuned for Notes from ICANN 53

We will be following all these issues closely while on the ground in Buenos Aires. For daily updates, be sure to check our Twitter handle throughout the week and, for any specific questions you may have, do not hesitate to get in touch with FairWinds staff directly.

Josh Bourne

Managing Partner at FairWinds Partners
A Managing Partner for the business, Josh draws on his experience with brands and blogs on business solutions for the domain name space.
Josh Bourne
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