From June 21 to 25th I’ve attended the ICANN53 Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. ICANN meetings are the premier forum for discussions about internet governance as this is a theme that all countries should pay attention to, engage their citizens and find institutions and government organizations to participate in. It is important to learn about internet governance in order to understand the world we’re in. This report aims to address this theme as well as document some of the whole #ICANN53 learning experience.
* Pre-Meeting Experience
Before arriving to Buenos Aires, I had already expectations about the debate on internet governance (IG), especially in Latin America. When I participated in events about internet governance (EGI.br and NETMundial) and online research (OpenCon2014) IG and the potential of the internet for knowledge and national sovereignty were already an important theme. Currently, along with some of my colleagues from EGI.br 2014 I am researching and writing about this. During those events, I was inspired by the work of many who participated in ICANN, including Fadi Chehade (CEO) and Daniel Fink (Stakeholder Engagement in Brazil) and Leon Sanchez (CCWG ICANN and OpenCon committee).
So with a great interest for research I asked to arrive a few days earlier to ICANN’s travel team (on my own) and it was a good decision since the next days would be fully packed of activities, debates and information. Plus, arriving a bit earlier gave me a chance to see some of the sessions with Latin American participants like Olga Cavalli (SSIG), Nacho Estrada (Nic.ar) and ICANN’s Rodrigo de La Parra and Rodrigo Saucedo among others.
ICANN provided me with all the information I needed for the event and the support from the program director, Janice Douma Lange, and my coach, Farzaneh Badii, was amazing.
My expectations were to try and find groups within ICANN that I could participate on and figure out how to contribute to policy on internet governance and helping choose those who watch out for the internet for all the rest of us. I’m glad to say that all those expectations were met.
* Meeting Experience
My meeting experience was beyond immersion as I felt completely submerged in this complex policy, technology and security internet matrix world. I was informed that it’s recent that ICANN started the coaching program and I must say that this was a great idea since one constantly needs guidance in such a complex experience.
We started the day with the fellowship session at 6:45am and ended way later than 8pm since there were intersessional activities and talks that could go on very late. However, I felt that intersessional activities were great in order to decompress and process the good deal of information. This was also a time when I’d often meet my coach on the corridors of the event and ask her questions and guidance about the next session to go to.
* Sessions and activities
Day 1 – 21st June – This was a day packed with information since the fellows stayed all day in the newcomer session. We were greeted by Fadi Chehade, ICANN CEO, and at the end of the day we had an opportunity to talk in smaller groups with regional leaders for the At-Large. I spoke then with Alberto Soto of LACRALO and he answered me some doubts about joining the constituency, At-Large Structures and how they could relate to research groups and universities and LACRALO’s action in the region. This was a fantastic opportunity and it was great to hear him.
Day 2 – 22nd June – As the first day, this started with a fellowship morning session. Then there was the welcome ceremony. After that, we could choose our sessions and I went to LAC Space as an update on ICANN’s actions in the region was given in this session and being a part of some of them I was very interested in how the actions were and where they were going. As a journalist, I could also participate on Steve Crocker, Fadi Chehade, Akram Atallah and Rodrigo de La Parra press conference, there I learned that over 1400 people were joining the meeting, an accomplishment for internet governance in Latin America. At the end of that day there was another session about the Challenges after NETMundial for the region and I was glad to see how the Brazilian team that participated on it was rebuilding and rethinking new paths for IT Governance in LAC, including Vanda Scartezini, Daniel Fink and João Caribé. Last but not least we had the first Lusophone meetup at an ICANN meeting where Portuguese speakers from all over the world joined for pictures in the lobby of the venue.
Day 3 – 23rd June – This was filled of some of the greatest learning moments in this meeting. I followed the activities of the NCSG, starting with the NCUC session and went on the others that followed. Until the afternoon when there was another fellowship session very informative as usual. The NCUC is the constituency I am engaged on and its various working groups such as the human rights one bring up issues that are sensitive to those in academia and I hope to be able to contribute to it when I can.
Day 4 – 24th June – At-Large was my focus on this day. I have already known many practices of this constituency following the works of Vanda Scartezini and Sylvia Herlein (very experiencied in ICANN meetings) and I had previous meetings with Maureen Hilyard and Siranush set up by my great coach Farzaneh Badii. I am interested in getting to know more ALSs and bringing some of my research groups and civil society organizations into the At-Large fold. The end of the day was the LACRALO Showcase with Latin Americans dressed in their regional costumes and this was both inspiring and an ice-breaker for all of us who were getting to know ICANN and planning to be involved more. Also, as an individual member of NCUC now, I had a meeting with Rafik Dammak kindly arranged by coach João Caribé and I was glad to learn more about the many ways I can participate and help on NCUC.
Day 5 – 25th June – I could never express fully the experience of participating in this collective day of the ICANN Meeting as this goes beyond a learning experience to a true life achievement. One can actually feel as being part of those who are shaping the future of the internet as it is possible to interviene in the Public Forum and in the Public Board Meeting. A special moment was the session about the CEO Succession Process. Fadi Chehade had spoken in the fellowship first session that he hoped a woman would be the next CEO. Being involved in gender politics since 1998, I hope this is also a result here and I am following closely the process.
Other days and moments – There were so many other moments outside regular sessions and days of the meeting (as I arrived earlier and left later). But mostly, the bonding experience of the fellowship, the idea of joint projects are some of the best memories I have and commitments I hope to follow on.
* Anticipated Next Steps Based on this Fellowship
As even before this ICANN meeting, I am subscribed to many ICANN lists, mainly At-Large and NCUC. I’ve also sent a request to join NCUC via the membership form on the website and I’m following the lists.
I realize it takes a while to fully understand the works the constituencies are doing and to become a member one must engage in a working group and contribute in some way to shaping documents or collaborating on the discussions of decisions which are to be made. I have concentrated more on reading, in order to fully understand the panorama of IG, however, I plan to send in comments soon as there are many issues left to be pursued and demanded by civil society, specially when it comes to education about IG.
I believe participating in ICANN events and following the constituency you’re more inclined to participate on should be a concern for all those who want to be involved in shaping the future of the internet. I will be planning on participating on other ICANN meetings and regional events as long as it’s possible. It is our right and our duty to be informed about these decisions and to contribute on them.
Preview of my certificate: