Blind auditions underway for ICANN’s supreme court
An ICANN volunteer committee says it is close to picking a slate of judges for what amounts to ICANN’s much-delayed “supreme court”, but it’s doing so without knowing the identities of the candidates.
The Independent Review Process Community Representatives Group said in a blog post that it expects to wrap up its work — picking at least seven members of an IRP Standing Panel — by the end of the year, though it views the deadline as “challenging”.
The group said that it’s currently reviewing applications for the posts, but with the identities of the candidates redacted, and expects to start interviewing shortly. The members wrote:
While we only see information about various applicants’ qualifications, gender and ICANN regional residency, we do not at this point know the identity of the candidates. These are data points to assist our winnowing process and our endeavor to achieve cultural, linguistic, gender and legal diversity. Diversity by geographic region is indicated in ICANN’s Bylaws.
The skill-set mandated for panelists by ICANN’s bylaws is pretty rarefied — requiring knowledge of international law, arbitration, the DNS and ICANN itself — so it seems likely that LinkedIn and Google could be useful to identity candidates, if CRG members were so inclined.
The CRG said it has a wealth of qualified candidates “a sizeable group of individuals with impressive and suitable backgrounds”, making the selection process “difficult”.
The Standing Panel is envisaged as a kind of supreme court for ICANN. Whenever somebody challenges an ICANN decision with an Independent Review Process complaint, three members of the panel would be selected to hear the case.
The idea is that IRP should become more consistent, objective and speedy, retaining more institutional knowledge, with a stable set of rotating panelists. The current system has ICANN and complainants select their panelist.
ICANN’s bylaws have been calling for the creation of a Standing Panel since April 2013, but ICANN is ICANN and the panel has been delayed by years of foot-dragging and red tape. The CRG was only created to audition candidates in February 2022.
Many IRP cases over the last near-decade have been complicated and delayed by the absence of the panel, even resulting in a lawsuit.
This is great for lawyers who bill by the hour, not so great for complainants and ICANN’s credibility as an accountable organization.
The CRG has seven members drawn from the GNSO, ALAC, ccNSO and GAC, including government representatives of Iran and Nigeria. It’s chaired by Verisign’s David McAuley.
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