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 benefits beyond the ICANN community, the DNS, and even the ICT sector. It would be myopic for the ICANN community to squander this unique opportunity for innovation.

Building on Existing Best Practices

Human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) are a systematic process to investigate, measure, and address the potential and actual human rights impacts. They are increasingly used by companies and civil society alike to pinpoint issues of highest risk and concern in general, within subsidiaries, before acquisitions, or across partnerships. HRIAs are also a systematic, holistic way to mitigate risk and reputational harms by pre-emptively identifying and addressing human rights impacts of policies, products, and operations. HRIAs differ from other types of assessments, such as environmental impact assessments, in that they are rooted in international human rights frameworks.

Developing New Tools

Multistakeholder HRIAs are premised on meaningful inclusion and stakeholder engagement throughout the process, with representatives from companies and communities coming together to jointly develop and undertake impact assessments. Such a collaborative approach has the potential to achieve a more accountable process, while generating trust among participants. Multistakeholder impact assessments also overcome the perceived biases of strictly company-led HRIAs, which are often conducted internally with little consultation from civil society or affected communities, and community-led assessments, which may lack crucial information about decision-making processes.

In impact assessments, the term “communities” generally refers to groups of people living in the same locality. When applied in the ICANN context, however, the term “community” expands exponentially to encompass the entirety of Internet users, as well as other companies, academia, technical operators, and even governments. Multistakeholder HRIAs in ICANN have the potential to benefit from the differing perspectives and skill sets of these stakeholder groups, thereby resulting in an impact assessment that is potentially more comprehensive, actionable, and technically sound.

Acting on Commitments

In 2016, ICANN added the Core Value of “respecting internationally recognized human rights as required by applicable law” to its bylaws. The provision was made at the time, however, that the new human rights bylaw would remain dormant unless and until a framework of interpretation (FoI) was developed and approved by the ICANN Board. With the FoI successfully developed, the implementation of ICANN’s Human Rights Bylaw is imminent and each Supporting Organization and Advisory Committee is now responsible for “developing their own policies and frameworks to fulfill the Core Value.”

Leaders in the ICANN community should consider how tools such as multistakeholder HRIAs can be incorporated into their respective decision-making processes, lest this opportunity for proactive innovation to benefit the global public interest go to waste. The CCWP-HR remains available as a forum for related discussions moving forward.

– Collin Kurre, CCWP-HR Chair


June 2018

On Renewed Importance and Opportunities to Engage

To those of you who are new to the Cross Community Working Party on ICANN and Human Rights (CCWP-HR), or new to the ICANN community: Welcome to the site!

10 ICANN meetings ago, the CCWP-HR was chartered with the objectives of providing information, facilitating dialogue, and making suggestions on ways to harmonize ICANN’s policies and procedures with internationally recognized human rights standards, among others.

Though the frequency of our posts dwindled over the past year as our members dedicated their time and efforts to enhancing diversity, transparency, and other rights-related considerations through Work Stream 2, the relevance of our Working Party has not diminished. Quite the contrary.

The new Human Rights Bylaw, a core value to “respect internationally recognized human rights as required by applicable law,” will come into effect this year. Quoting from the Bylaw’s Framework of Interpretation, “it is up to each SO and AC, and ICANN the organization, to develop their own policies and frameworks to fulfill this Core Value.” Compliance must—and will—happen. ICANN org’s [1] ongoing HRIA is a testament to their commitment to uphold this core value. Yet how this compliance will materialize in SOs, ACs, and the other parts of the ICANN remains to be seen.

As the only cross-community group mandated to provide information, suggestions, and recommendations to chartering organizations regarding human rights impacts and improvements, the CCWP-HR is uniquely positioned to play an influential role in these discussions moving forward. By extension, we—the members of the Working Party; an informal gathering of people interested in the intersection of human rights and ICANN—are also uniquely poised to help shape the community’s Human Rights compliance mechanisms as they develop.

In case you remain unconvinced or uninspired by the challenge of creating systems to uphold ICANN’s Human Rights Bylaw, there are myriad other ways to contribute to the discussion. In the past, members of the CCWP-HR have diagrammed ICANN Policies and Human Rights, documented potential human rights issues arising from gTLD subsequent procedures, and designed an initial sketch for incorporating human rights impact assessments into policy development processes.

Ongoing research in the CCWP-HR seeks to flesh out the effects of current policy development procedures on particular rights (presented at last meeting, see below). Getting involved in this project may be of interest to newcomers in particular, as it offers an opportunity to become more familiar with ICANN procedures while contributing to scholarship in the field human rights and Internet governance. Charting the decision-making processes of SOs and ACs, tracking the effectiveness of remedy and due process measures, or further exploring language rights in the ICANN context have all been floated as potential avenues for future research.

Thought guided by its charter, the CCWP-HR is driven by its members; that is, your interests, expertise, and experience. Meetings are important, but inter-sessional work shouldn’t be overlooked—lest the plurality of our Working Party be reduced to a precious few voices.

Got an idea for a paper? Float it on the list.
Have a doubt about operationalizing the Human Rights Bylaw in ASO, or ALAC, or other? Flag it on the list.
Is a half-baked idea taking shape, but not ready to share? Contact your co-chairs—we’re here to support you.

Looking forward,

Collin Kurre and Michael Karanicolas
CCWP-HR Co-Chairs

April 2018



NCSG Executive Committee 2016-2017


Full Voting Member

NCSG Chair Tapani Tarvainen
NPOC Appointee Poncelet Ileleji
NPOC Appointee Joan Jerr
NCUC Appointee Robin Gross
NCUC Appointee Monika Zalnieriute

Archive of EC-NCSG Email Discussion List (see also: previous archive)

NCSG Policy Committee Members 2015-2016



Full Voting Member

Observing Member

NCSG Chair (ex-officio) Tapani Tarvainen
NCSG GNSO Councilor Rafik Dammak (Chair)
NCSG GNSO Councilor Stefania Milan
NCSG GNSO Councilor David Cake (Vice Chair)
NCSG GNSO Councilor Ed Morris
NCSG GNSO Councilor Marilia Maciel
NCSG GNSO Councilor Stephanie Perrin
Temporary Alternate Avri Doria
ex GNSO Councilor Maria Farrell
ex GNSO Councilor Magaly Pazello
ex NCSG Chair Rafik Dammak
NCUC Appointee Matthew Shears (Vice Chair)
NCUC Appointee Ayden Ferdeline
NPOC Appointee Poncelet Ileleji
NPOC Appointee Martin Silva Valent

Term of Office: Annual Meeting October 2015 –> October 2016 Annual Meeting

NCSG Policy Committee Email Archive  (see also: previous archive)

Attendance Record of NCSG Policy & Executive Committee Members at NCSG Policy Meetings (ICANN #45 –>)

NCSG Financial Committee 2015-2016


Full Voting Member

Observing Member

NCSG Chair

Tapani Tarvainen

NPOC Appointee Sam Lanfranco
NCUC Appointee Ed Morris (Chair)
CC Appointee   Dorothy Gordon

Term of Office: Annual Meeting November 2015 –> Annual Meeting November 2016

Archive of NCSG-FC Email Discussion List

March 2017