Home Latin America 2012 The Multi-stakeholder model in the management of Internet critical resources

The Multi-stakeholder model in the management of Internet critical resources

by david.nunes
Rodrigo de la Parra Issue:Latin America 2012
Article no.:8
Topic:The Multi-stakeholder model in the management of Internet critical resources
Author:Rodrigo de la Parra
Title:Vice President
Organisation:ICANN
PDF size:224KB

About author

Rodrigo de la Parra is the Vice President of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) for Latin America and the Caribbean. Rodrigo is responsible for outreach, support and engagement with all stakeholders in the Latin America region. He joined ICANN in January 2011 as a Regional Liaison for Latin America. Before joining ICANN, Rodrigo served as Director General of Prospective Regulation and Director General for International Cooperation of Mexico’s Federal Commission of Telecommunications (Cofetel). He was also the Mexican representative to ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which gives governments a voice in the organization’s policy formation. He is also a member of the Consultative Committee of NIC.mx, Mexico’s ccTLD.

Rodrigo has a Master’s degree in political economy and international relations from the University of Essex in the UK. He is also a lecturer of International Organizations and Economic Negotiations and a consultant to the Latin American Cooperation for Advanced Networks (CLARA).

Article abstract

ICANN is a prime example of a multi-stakeholder organisation that is fulfilling its mission to co-ordinate global unique naming and addressing. This is achieved through global co-ordination and true consensus, rather than enacting rules and imposing regulations. ICANN is open to all, from individual users to public and private organisations, and all suggestions are assessed on merits. ICANN has already succeeded in its various tasks: reducing costs of generic domain name registration, internationalising domain names for different languages and regions, reducing cyber-fraud by DNS extended security, resolving domain name disputes and more.

Full Article

It is widely accepted by economists and policy makers that regulation is appropriate whenever there is a market failure. Governments need to intervene only when market forces alone are not able to deliver the benefits towards increased consumer surplus and development. After more than two decades of the liberalization of the telecommunications sector at the global level, this light approach of government intervention has proved to be a catalyst for the development of the telecom infrastructure required to build an Information Society.

Many challenges remain ahead but overall it is important to recognize that without private investment none of the innovation and the growth observed could have been possible. When dealing with public policy objectives governments need to be sure that the right set of incentives are in place.

As technology continues to evolve, it has been confirmed that no legal or regulatory framework is able to keep the pace. Even if some structures and institutions have been expertly designed to be general and flexible, new services, markets and even industries continue to emerge. These novelties are not predictable by any single stakeholder. They appear as a result of joint efforts of scientists, researchers, developers, academics, engineers, standardization bodies, corporations, industry associations, consumer organizations, not-for profits, among many others.

Regulation should also evolve. It should change to new schemes that admit an integrated and comprehensive method that permits all stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes. This will not only allow for rapid change response but also for solid processes based on consensus and democratic attributes. In other words it would be the rule of “all built by all”.

The Internet has followed a different path than the telecom sector. It has flourished without central promotion or regulation in the remit of governments. The undeniable success of the Internet has been achieved – according to the experts – thanks to its open nature and architecture. This success is not attributed to chance or faith, but to the magnificent coordinating job of many people working towards a common goal.

It would be very ambitious to try to summarize in this article the intricacies surrounding the Internet governance debate that is happening now, however, it is possible to share one of the many topics included in this agenda, namely the management of Domain Name System (DNS) for Internet critical resources, particularly the coordination of the DNS and IP Addressing. The multi-stakeholder model by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has proven to be successful in performing this important function and show how a policy-setting body of this sort works in practice.

To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address must be unique, so computers know where to find each other. To perform this task a new innovative organization was conceived in 1998 to coordinate these identifiers across the world. Without that coordination, we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN coordinates DNS, IP addresses, space allocation, protocol-identifier assignment, Top-Level Domain (TLD) name system management with generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD), and root server system management functions.

Besides providing technical operations of vital DNS resources, ICANN also defines policies of how the “names and numbers” of the Internet should run. It is important to highlight the concept of “defining policies” as opposed to “enacting rules”. The work moves forward in a style we describe as the “bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model”.

Bottom up.

At ICANN, rather than the Board of Directors solely declaring what topics ICANN will address, members of sub-groups in ICANN can raise issues at the grassroots level. Then, if the issue is worth addressing and falls within ICANN’s remit, it can rise through various Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations until eventually policy recommendations are passed to the Board for a vote.

Consensus-driven.

Through its By-laws, processes and international meetings, ICANN provides the arena where all advocates can discuss Internet policy issues as they pertain to these critical resources. Almost anyone can join most of ICANN’s volunteer Working Groups, assuring broad representation of the world’s perspectives. Hearing all points of view, searching for mutual interests, and working toward consensus take time, but the process resists capture by any single interest– an important consideration when managing a resource as vital as the global Internet.

Multi-stakeholder model

ICANN’s inclusive approach treats the public sector, the private sector, and technical experts as peers. In the ICANN community, you’ll find registries, registrars, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), intellectual property advocates, commercial and business interests, non-commercial and non-profit interests, representation from more than 100 governments, and a global array of individual Internet users. All points of view receive consideration on their own merits. ICANN’s fundamental belief is that all users of the Internet deserve a say in how it is run.

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