ICANN President sees growth and international acceptance

Fad Chehade speaks on his first year in office and efforts to bring government input into the decision making process

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

Fadi Chehade replaced Rod Beckstrom as president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on July 1 last year. In his first year in office, Chehade has tried to establish a more international ICANN by opening hubs in Turkey, Singapore, Beijing and Geneva.

Governments, meanwhile, have found a new role within ICANN, mainly in respect to the new generic Top Level Domains, while the traditional tussle between ICANN and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) over who should govern and manage the global Internet seems to have lost some momentum.

Chehade sat down with the IDG News Service at the ICANN 47 meeting in Durban to answer questions about his first year in office. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

IDGNS: How has ICANN improved in the last year?

Chehade: In the last year, we have done three main things; one, we have successfully changed the posture of ICANN, from an organization that was very centric towards Europe and USA (to an) organization that is embracing the rest of the world. We are moving a lot of our staff and resources from California to the new offices opening in Turkey, Singapore, Beijing and Geneva.

The second thing we did is we grew ICANN staff; it's double compared to when I started in terms of resources and these resources will grow.

The third thing is that we have fundamentally changed our relationship with world organizations where we had contentious relationships. We cannot sit and shoot at each other, we have to come to mutual recognition that we cannot erase each other; we have distinct complementary roles.

IDGNS: The Internationalization of ICANN has been a thorny issue for ITU how is this changing?

Chehade: In his opening ceremony speech at this meeting in Durban, Hamadoun Toure, ITU Secretary General, said that ICANN is becoming more international, and it was great to hear him say that. There are many international organizations we need to work with and this is a journey that starts with a posture change. Mahatma Gandhi said "our actions express our priority" and we should respect other organizations including ITU.

We are not a U.N. organization or a government organization and we must constantly find our legitimacy in a different way. And where does a transnational organization find its legitimacy? When it starts looking as if people are having a hard time participating in our meetings, then we are losing our legitimacy. I am focusing my efforts in the weakest points of our community.

When I started, I had three people who focused on global engagement and by next year June we will have 40; I tell them go spend time to meet government, academics and businesses among other ICANN constituencies.

IDGNS: How has the role of governments evolved?

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