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    Membership Issues GA Chair about-face on suicide [updated]
    posted by tbyfield on Sunday September 08 2002, @07:35PM

    A few months after protesting mightily that a General Assembly motion asking the DoC to re-bid ICANN's contract would be suicidal, GA chair Thomas Roessler seems to have endorsed the idea that the GA would, in fact, be better off dead. [Update: Thomas has provided a thorough response on his weblog, here. I'm skeptical about his emphasis that the ERC is moving in the right direction. Joanna Lane's more jaundiced assessment gets it right: whatever simulacrum of an open and/or public organ the ERC recommends (if any) will end up being watered down by malingerers like Esther Dyson. There are lots of ways to move; the ERC's three-card monte involving the GA and the ALAC isn't a good one. -- tbyfield]

    In a message to the GA discussion list, Roessler writes: "It looks like [ICANN's] Evolution and Reform Committee [ERC] is moving into the right direction as far as the GA is concerned." The ERC recommendation he cites reads, in part, as follows:
    [T]he existence of an effectively functioning ALAC [At Large Advisory Committee] might eventually eliminate or significantly reduce the need for and utility of a General Assembly. In our view, an effective ALAC would operate properly moderated mailing lists and the like, thus allowing wide-ranging public discussion of ICANN-related issues. Given this, there may be no need for a separate General Assembly.
    To be fair, it should be said that this passage (and what follows it) purport to take into account the "particularly useful ... recommendations made by [GA chair] Thomas Roessler and [GA alternate chair] Alexander Svensson" (available here). (And note: those remarks included a trenchant skepticism about what exactly is meant by "moderated," to say nothing of the ERC's mention of "properly moderated.") According to Roessler's and Svensson's own abstract of their recommendations:
    We do not believe that it makes much sense to reserve the GA to cross-constituency dialogue, and leave the dialogue with the public to some other, unspecified mechanism. The cost of that approach may quite easily outweigh the benefit. What the GA needs is not less participation from the outside, but more participation from the inside.
    A fine sentiment. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine a better example of an "unspecified mechanism" than the ALAC -- part Rube Goldberg, part chimera -- imagined by ICANN's ERC, which has demonstrated its abiding hostility to ongoing formal public input into ICANN and its pseudo-processes. And the ERC all but admits as much:
    Since it will be some time, even if our recommendation to create it is accepted by the Board in Shanghai, before it is clear that the ALAC can in fact carry out this role, our current thinking is that the GNSO Council should maintain the operation of the current General Assembly discussion lists until such time as the ALAC has shown it can take over that responsibility, and at that time the responsibility for a general public discussion list on ICANN issues should be transferred to the ALAC. If this approach were followed, it would be unnecessary that there be such a thing as a General Assembly Chair. Of course, under this approach, the GNSO Council should have the power to designate the General Assembly list managers/moderators for the time it remains responsible for that list, and after that the ALAC would have this responsibility.
    Predictably, the ERC suggests that power (such as it is, in this context) would be transferred from elected representatives to interim appointees. "After that," they say, the ALAC would take over -- on a timetable and through a mechanism that, naturally, aren't specified.

    It isn't clear why Roessler would endorse this approach. We could have asked him, but given that in the past he has denounced this ICANN Watch editor for his "damned lies" and "newly improved skills in lying by omission," we thought it best to let him explain his own rationale -- in full.

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    GA Chair about-face on suicide [updated] | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 4 comments | Search Discussion
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    Roessler's Reply
    by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Monday September 09 2002, @04:17AM (#9125)
    User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
    Thomas Roessler has written a reply to the above.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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