ICANN’s Procedures and Policies in the Light of Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms and Democratic Values by Monika Zalnieriute & Thomas Schneider

Social Science Research Network logoAbstract: This report focuses on the meaning of ICANN’s global public interest responsibilities from an international human rights perspective. The report aims at clarifying the role and responsibilities of states in securing human rights in ICANN mechanisms and procedures; and how States can support this multi-stakeholder model in a way that better guarantees to serve the global public interest.

The concept of serving the global public interest is vague, providing neither clear guidance nor constraint on ICANN’s action. It is therefore important to flesh it out in order to strengthen accountability and transparency in ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model. The historically grown establishment of ICANN as a private corporation under Californian law may not be a sustainable solution for systematically taking into account international human rights law. New innovative solutions may be explored for the future development of ICANN in this regard.

As the role of ICANN in the field of Internet governance is increasing, its responsibility and accountability have to grow. A more attentive approach towards human rights could help to create an accountable and transparent way of doing business. Therefore the authors recommend to:

  • Include reference to human rights in ICANN’s Bylaws
  • Define public interest objectives
  • Improve the human rights expertise and early engagement in the GAC
  • Develop an early engagement mechanism for the safeguard of human rights
  • Review ICANN’s legal basis and explore innovative solutions for developing an international or quasi-international status of ICANN.

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