ICANN Resolutions » Update on Independent Review Process re: Application for .GCC
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Whereas, GCCIX, W.L.L. (the applicant for .GCC) initiated an Independent Review Process (IRP) challenging the ICANN Board's acceptance of Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) consensus advice that the .GCC application should not proceed.
Whereas, in light of certain prior IRP Panel Declarations, the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee (BAMC) discussed whether, in advance of proceeding with the current .GCC IRP, it would be helpful to seek further information from the GAC regarding the rationale for the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application.
Whereas the BAMC recommended that the Board authorize the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to seek a stay of the .GCC IRP and open an informal dialogue with the GAC regarding the rationale for the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application.
Resolved (2021.09.12.08), the Board authorizes the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to seek a stay of the .GCC IRP and open an informal dialogue with the GAC regarding the rationale for the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application.
Resolved (2021.09.12.09), this resolution shall remain confidential pursuant to Article 3, sections 3.5(b) and (d) of the ICANN Bylaws until it is otherwise determined that it can be published.
After careful review of the underlying facts, prior applicable IRP Panel Declarations, and the BAMC's recommendation, the Board has concluded that, before proceeding further with the .GCC IRP, it could be beneficial to ask the GAC for any new or additional information that the GAC might choose to offer regarding its advice that the .GCC application should not proceed. The Board, therefore, authorizes the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to seek a stay of the .GCC IRP and open an informal dialogue with the GAC regarding the rationale for the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application.
In 2012, GCCIX submitted an application to operate a .GCC gTLD, stating in part:
GCC refers generally, but not exclusively, to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.4
Given this lack of connection with, and lack of support from, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is commonly referred to as the "GCC," the GCC, along with the governments of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and UAE, issued a GAC Early Warning in November 2012 expressing "serious concerns" regarding GCCIX's .GCC application because the applied-for gTLD "matches a name of an Intergovernmental Organization" (IGO), namely, the GCC, and "[lacks] . . . community involvement and support," noting that the .GCC application "clearly shows that the applicant is targeting the GCC community which basically covers the 6 member states of the GCC."
In March 2013, the GCC filed a Legal Rights Objection (LRO) with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO) against GCCIX's application, claiming that the .GCC application takes advantage of the distinctive character and reputation of the "GCC" acronym and creates a likelihood of confusion between the applied-for gTLD and the GCC's IGO acronym.
In April 2013, the GAC issued the Beijing Communiqué, which provided GAC consensus advice that the application for .GCC should not proceed. The New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) accepted the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application in June 2013 and removed the application from further processing.5 The NGPC's rationale was based upon the Guidebook provision stating that GAC consensus advice against an application creates "a strong presumption for the ICANN Board that the application should not be approved." (Guidebook at § 3.1(I).) GCCIX filed Reconsideration Request 13-17 challenging the NGPC's acceptance of the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application, which was denied by the Board Governance Committee (BGC).
After engaging in the Cooperative Engagement Process for several years, GCCIX filed an IRP Request in June 2021. Among other claims, GCCIX alleges that the NGPC violated ICANN's Articles of Incorporation (Articles) and Bylaws by accepting the GAC advice on .GCC "despite [a] lack of any rationale provided by GAC for its advice" and by failing "to request [a] rationale from the GAC, investigate the matter or otherwise consider the public interest" before accepting the GAC advice. (IRP Request at 18.) GCCIX also alleges that the NGPC acted contrary to the Articles and Bylaws by "refus[ing] to provide any rationale for the NGPC decision to accept GAC advice." (IRP Request at 18.) In addition, GCCIX claims that the BGC violated ICANN's Articles and Bylaws by denying GCCIX's "Request for Reconsideration as to the above actions and inactions, without providing any additional analysis or rationale, or conducting any further investigation."6 (IRP Request at 18.) Finally, GCCIX alleges that the IRP Declarations in the .AFRICA and .AMAZON IRPs are precedential, binding on ICANN, and are dispositive on the claims asserted by GCCIX regarding the actions of the NGPC and BGC in accepting the GAC consensus advice noted above. (IRP Request at 16-17, 19, 27-28, 29.)
ICANN has generally followed a practice of not taking any actions on applications that are the subject of a pending Accountability Mechanism out of deference to ICANN's Accountability Mechanisms. However, [REDACTED – PRIVILEGED & CONFIDENTIAL], the Board has determined that, under these circumstances, this is an opportunity to consider alternatives to that general practice. Accordingly, before proceeding further with the .GCC IRP, the BAMC carefully considered options regarding next steps and concluded that it could be beneficial to ask the GAC for any new or additional information that the GAC might choose to offer regarding its advice that the .GCC application should not proceed. The BAMC therefore has recommended that the Board authorize the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to seek a stay of the .GCC IRP and open an informal dialogue with the GAC regarding the rationale for the GAC consensus advice on the .GCC application.
The Board agrees with this approach and notes that such discussions with the GAC (if the GAC is open to such discussions) could provide valuable information that may be beneficial to reaching a determination as to the next steps regarding the .GCC IRP and the .GCC application.
This action is within ICANN's Mission and is in the public interest as it is important to ensure that, in carrying out its Mission, ICANN is accountable to the community for operating within the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and other established procedures. This accountability includes having a process in place by which a person or entity materially affected by an action of the ICANN Board or staff may request reconsideration of that action or inaction by the Board. This action should have no financial impact on ICANN and will not negatively impact the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.
This decision is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment.