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 use and navigate 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.

Read the CCWP-HR’s charter

Recent documents


Due Diligence and Why it Matters

  On 31 July 2018, the CCWP-HR held a special meeting to explore the concept of “Due Diligence and Why it Matters.” Several subject experts joined the conversation to present on their areas of expertise. They were: Michael Samway – […]

- August 2018

ICANN at a Crossroads: GDPR and Human Rights

The European Data Protection Board certainly has been keeping its records straight. Its 27 May statement starts with the following: “WP29 has been offering guidance to ICANN on how to bring WHOIS in compliance with European data protection law since […]

- July 2018

HRIAs in ICANN: Constructive Innovation to Benefit Society

Operationalizing ICANN’s human rights bylaw is an opportunity for the ICANN community to continue its leadership in multistakeholder innovation. Perhaps more importantly, work carried out to develop and refine tools like human rights impact assessments has the potential to generate […]

- June 2018