By James N Gitau
Inside an ICANN meeting: My experience
Having never participated in the ICANN meeting before, I felt as if I was a stranger and most of the times I was reluctant and hardly contributed to any debate, however I observed and embarked on a learning mission. On March 5th I attended the NCUC Community Outreach event which attracted wide interest from civil society, Internet end-users etcetera. The session began with Dr. Milton Mueller introducing the constituency before introducing guest speakers i.e. Amir Elsadr, Kathy Kleiman, Matthew Shears, Dr. Monika Zalnieriute, Niels ten Oever, Robin Gross, and Stephanie Perrin, among others, to speak on key policy developments that the NCUC is involved in. It concluded with a cocktail reception overlooking the Jardin Andalou, where NCUC members encouraged local guests, newcomers, and other participants with civil society backgrounds to consider getting involved in constituency’s work. It is in this forum where I met face to face with constituency members and some of the executive committee members including Rafik Dammak, Tapani Tarvainen, Stephanie Perrin, and William Drake among others.
The Opening Ceremony
ICANN 55 officially kicked off on Monday 5 March 2016 under patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed IV of the Kingdom of Morocco. The opening ceremony was rich in inspirational speeches and exciting encounters. In his introductory remarks, Baher Esmat said, it was his greatest pleasure to welcome all participants to ICANN 55 in Marrakech, and a very warm welcome to the beautiful city of Marrakech, also known as the Red City, the land of civilization and amazing mix of Arab, African, and European culture. He then invited Dr. Steve Crocker, chairman of the board of ICANN, to officially inaugurate ICANN 55 After his motivational speech with many thanks to the host, and other stakeholders who had made the event successful, including His Excellency, Minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy of Morocco and His Excellency Ahmed Akhchichine (President of the Marrakech region) Dr. Steve then invited Minister Moulay to give his speech.
The second speaker, Hon. Minister Moulay, shed light on the City of Marrakech. He said he would fist like to welcome all in the name of the kingdom of Morocco, and would like to also express his joy to welcome all here in, a city where they have a great history, they are open to the future, and for the second time they were welcoming delegates. He went on; we are welcoming this ICANN meeting. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the entire ICANN community for having chosen Morocco. Our country is a country that welcomes people that is a peaceful country, a land of peace. Your choice is a testament to stability, the stability that you can find in our kingdom. He also informed the delegates about ICCANN’s president and CEO Mr. Fadi’s retirement and said; we have learned with great surprise the announcement that Fadi Chehade was going to leave ICANN right after this 55th meeting. However, I would like to congratulate him for his courage, for the decisions that he made after the work — the incredible amount of work that he did in order to get to this transition. I would like to congratulate him. Hon. Moulay concluded his extensive speech by saying; Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want to finish my speech before telling you how happy we are to have you here in Morocco for your 55th meeting. I thank you very much for your attention, and I wish you an excellent stay in Marrakech.
At this juncture the master of ceremony Mr. Baher Esmat, invited to the stage Mr. Azdine El Mountassir Billah, General Director of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency in Morocco, ANRT. In his speech the director noted with appreciation that, In Marrakech, they were very happy to host for the second time after the 26th ICANN meeting in 2006 the 55th meeting of ICANN which shows that we do trust and enjoy Morocco. He also mentioned that, Morocco is very close to Europe and to the rest of the world, and that they do share with the international community ideals of progress, prosperity, tolerance, openness, and of complementarity. He went on; the Internet and the new digital world which changes and evolves every day does represent a great space for freedom, a spirit of exchange, sharing, and very strong resource for economic development where innovation, invention, and creation are key words. The Web is in our life, personal, professional lives, social life, cultural life, in our private life as well as. And more and more we need to have a framework, we need to have strong governance for the Internet. And everybody must agree with that to protect the rights of people and the rights of citizens. He concluded his lengthy speech by saying; we are local host, and in the name of the ANRT, I would like to thank you and thank the team, the ANRT team, which put together part of this meeting. And I would like to thank Mr. Fadi Chehade, President and CEO of ICANN. He did so much to make sure that this organization is today a different organization with so much enthusiasm. He wanted to come to Morocco for the 55th meeting. He wanted to come in my country. And I wish him the best. I also wished the best to Mr. Marby who is going to be the new CEO, all the best for ICANN for the future. Good luck, and enjoy your stay in Marrakech.
Speaker after speaker praised Fadi Chehade for his hard work to make ICCANN what it is but when Fadi stood to speak he spoke on a translated language and I was not able to capture most of his speech
On his speech Dr. Stephen Crocker mentioned that Fadi’s was one of the most moving speeches he will ever hear and he was sure it touched every one in the house. He’s probably touched no one more in a way differently than it has touched most of us and brought fear and terror into his heart. I’m talking about the man who has to follow that act. I mentioned earlier that Fadi had done a lot to transform us into an international organization. Part of that work is ICANN’s increasing presence on this continent, and in turn, Africa’s increasing involvement in ICANN. So it’s no secret that to a very large extent, Africa will help write the next chapter of the Internet’s history, and in that context, I’m proud to announce that ICANN’s
The meetings were very many running on a parallel basis and they were all of importance and I only managed to participate several among them; On Saturday 5th March I managed to attend GNSO Working Session this meeting took place on 5 March 2016 from 09:00 in the Diamant room. I also attended NCUC Community Outreach that happened at Ametyste room later in the day. On Tuesday 8th March I attended NCUC Constituency Day; later in the evening I also attended Joint Meeting of the ICANN Board & the Non-Commercial Stakeholders, and on Wednesday 9th March I participated GNSO Council Public Meeting this event took place from 13:30 in the Toubkal room. On Thursday 10th March 2016 I attended public forum and ICCANN boar public forum both held at Atlas and the wrap-up held Toubkal room. All in all, attending ICANN 55 was a highly educating experience with numerous opportunities to meet experts in the internet governance ecosystem. NCUC is certainly a platform for an adherent of internet governance to understand and participate productively in ICANN! After the wrap-up I had to spent Thursday night and entire Friday, waiting for flight back home scheduled for Saturday 12Th March mid-day I traveled safely aboard Air Maroc and Air Qatar planes.