The internet significantly facilitates the exercise of human rights today — but it also offers unprecedented capacity for their interference. The companies and standard-setting bodies that manage the internet’s infrastructure have a direct impact on whether human rights are facilitated or restricted.

An important actor in this space is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international non-profit organization incorporated to manage the Internet’s unique identifier systems. ICANN coordinates the directory linking website names with server numbers. This coordination of unique identifiers in the domain name system (DNS) allows people around the world to connect to the same global network.

Because the DNS is integral to the way users navigate and use the internet, the human rights aspects of ICANN’s policies are an important consideration. In light of this ICANN incorporated a policy commitment to respect internationally recognized human rights as part of its Core Values in 2016. The multistakeholder community subsequently developed a framework for interpreting this new bylaw, but it remains to be seen how it will be implemented in policy development and other decision-making processes.

About the CCWP-HR

The Cross-Community Working Party on ICANN and Human Rights (CCWP-HR) is a forum for research and discussion on the relationship between human rights and global DNS coordination. This is related — but not limited — to policies, procedures, and operations, with a particular focus on ICANN’s responsibility to respect human rights.

Our goal is to provide information, facilitate dialogue, and make suggestions to ICANN the corporation, its Board of Directors, and the ICANN community on ways to better harmonize ICANN’s policies and procedures with internationally recognized human rights and corporate social responsibility standards.

At present, devising new mechanisms to uphold the “Human Rights Bylaw” in ICANN decision-making processes is a core focus of the CCWP-HR, along with promoting standards for diversity, transparency, and accountability across the ICANN community.

Read the CCWP-HR’s charter

Recent documents


DNS Transparency Reporting

Transparency reporting has became a popular practice amongst companies across various industries as a means to “know and show” respect for human rights, as described in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. For companies operating online, shedding light […]

- December 2018

CCWP-HR at the 2018 IGF in Paris

Highlights and outcomes of the CCWP-HR’s session on multistakeholder human rights impact assessments at the 2018 IGF in Paris.

- November 2018

ICANN63 Barcelona

Tangible progress was made for human rights at ICANN during its 63rd meeting, held in Barcelona from 20-25 October. Some highlights: CCWG-Acc Work Stream 2 recommendations have now been approved by all Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees. The next step […]

- November 2018