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ICANN Resolutions » Approval of Community Anti-Harassment Policy

Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.

Approval of Community Anti-Harassment Policy


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 16 Mar 2017
Resolution Number: 
2017.03.16.11 – 2017.03.16.12
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, during and after ICANN55, the issue of certain community-member conduct toward one another was raised in various sessions and lists, and the Board agreed to address this matter.

Whereas, among other things, the Board approved revised the ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior, and directed "the President and CEO, or his designees to retain an expert . . . to assist in the development of a Community anti-harassment policy/procedure to be followed at ICANN Public Meetings, which could include items such as complaints handling and resolution and enforcement processes." (Resolution 2016.05.15.05)

Whereas, the Board authorized the posting for public comment a proposed ICANN Community Anti-Harassment Policy (Policy) for the community's consideration and input.

Whereas, all the comments received during the public comment period generally supported the proposed Community Anti-Harassment Policy.

Whereas, some comments called for the addition of enhancements to the Policy and some raised questions about the role of the Ombudsman in evaluating complaints initiated under the Community Anti-Harassment Policy.

Resolved (2017.03.16.11), the Board hereby adopts the Community Anti-Harassment Policy as revised to address some issues raised during the public comment period.

Resolved (2017.03.16.12), the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to (1) ensure that the Organization continues to monitor whether the Office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate place for Community members to file a complaint under the Community Anti-Harassment Policy, and to annually review the Policy for future enhancements, as needed; (2) make ICANN Organization's Human Resources department available to assist in complaints where the complainant has indicated a preference to engage with a person of a different gender than the current Ombudsman.

Rationale for Resolution: 

During and after ICANN55, the issue of certain community-member conduct towards one another was raised in various sessions and lists, and the Board agreed to address this matter. In response, the Board approved revised ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior, and directed "the President and CEO, or his designees to retain an expert…to assist in the development of a Community anti-harassment policy/procedure to be followed at ICANN Public Meetings, which could include items such as complaints handling and resolution and enforcement processes." (Resolution 2016.05.15.05)

In November 2016, the Board authorized the posting for public comment a proposed ICANN Community Anti-Harassment Policy (Policy) [PDF, 72 KB]. The Policy sets out how participants in the ICANN community are expected to behave when participating in ICANN's multistakeholder processes. It was created following consultation with experts and after consideration of the public comments received on the already adopted revised Expected Standards of Behavior. As was stated in response to the comments received on the proposed revisions to the Expected Standards of Behavior, the next anticipated step was to develop and post for public comment a more detailed policy and complaint procedure. The Policy sets out how participants in the ICANN community are expected to behave when participating in ICANN's multistakeholder processes, as well as a complaint and handling procedures for when community members feel that someone has violated the Policy.

Fourteen comments were submitted during the public comment period, which the Board has considered. Additionally, after the close of the public comment period, ICANN was made aware that the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) unsuccessfully attempted to submit a comment during the public comment period. CIS's comment has been provided to the Board for consideration. Overall, the commenters applauded the development of the Policy. Several organizations and individuals suggested the inclusion of a mission statement. Some commenters suggested that the Policy make clear that the definition of harassment means unwelcomed nonconsensual conduct, particularly given that the appropriateness of conduct may vary by social norms. Some commenters indicated that the Office of the Ombudsman should not handle evaluation of complaints made under the Policy because it appears to vest too much power in the Office of the Ombudsman.

As always, the Board thanks and appreciates the commenters for their views about certain terminology in the Policy. The Board also acknowledges and appreciates the questions raised about whether the Office of the Ombudsman is best suited to handle complaints made under the Policy.

Based on the comments received, the Organization has made some terminology revisions to address many of the comments. Those are reflected in the redline version of the draft Policy, which is attached as an exhibit to the Reference Materials. With respect to the comments made about the Office of the Ombudsman, the Board agrees that these comments are worthy of further consideration. However, the Board is also concerned that the development of another mechanism or structure to handle complaints made under the Policy would cause further delay in adopting this important Policy. Accordingly, the Board has resolved to adopt the Policy as revised, but to direct the Organization to further evaluate the comments about the Office of the Ombudsman, and monitor any issues that arise as a result of using the Ombudsman for this purpose.

As part of that further evaluation process, the Board would like to point out that the Office of the Ombudsman is chartered to address complaints that may be made under the Policy. As stated in Article 5, Section 5.2 of the Bylaws,

The principal function of the Ombudsman shall be to provide an independent internal evaluation of complaints by members of the ICANN community who believe that the ICANN staff, Board or an ICANN constituent body has treated them unfairly. The Ombudsman shall serve as an objective advocate for fairness, and shall seek to evaluate and where possible resolve complaints about unfair or inappropriate treatment by ICANN staff, the Board, or ICANN constituent bodies, clarifying the issues and using conflict resolution tools such as negotiation, facilitation, and "shuttle diplomacy" to achieve these results.
(Bylaws, Art. 5, § 5.2, https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/governance/bylaws-en/#article5.) In light of the above, it does seem that handling complaints from the community about how others in the community are treating them is directly in line with the function the Office of the Ombudsman is intended to serve under the Bylaws.

Nevertheless, the Board does take seriously the comments received about the Office of the Ombudsman. Accordingly, the Board has directed the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to ensure that the Organization continues to monitor whether the Office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate place for Community members to file a complaint under the Policy, and to annually review the Policy for future enhancements, as needed.

As part of implementing the Policy, ICANN will have an education and awareness campaign for the community.

The Board further notes that while the Policy applies to participants in the ICANN community, the Board acknowledges that persons who work for the Organization should be free from harassment and that the Organization has in place an established anti-harassment internal policy.

This action is not intended to have any financial impact on the organization and no direct impact on the security, stability or resiliency of the domain name system.

This is an Organizational Administrative Action not requiring public comment at this stage as the underlying Policy has already been subject to public comment.