What is ICANN?
ICANN is a not-for-profit, public-benefit organization formed in 1998. Its staff operates the Internet’s Domain Name System, coordinates allocation and assignment of the Internet’s unique identifiers,such as Internet Protocol addresses, accredits generic top-level domain (gTLD) name registrars,and helps facilitate the voices of volunteers worldwide who are dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and inter-operable. ICANN promotes competition in the domain name space and helps develop Internet policy.
How is ICANN organized?
At the heart of ICANN’s policy-making is what is called a “multistakeholder model.” This decentralized model places individuals, industry, non-commercial interests and government on an equal level. Unlike more traditional, top-down governance models, where governments make policy decisions, the multi-stakeholder approach used by ICANN allows for community-based consensus-driven policy-making. The idea is that Internet governance should mimic the structure of the Internet itself – borderless and open to all.
While the ICANN Board of Directors has the ultimate authority to approve or reject policy recommendations, Supporting Organizations (SOs) are responsible for developing and making policy recommendations to the Board. Advisory Committees (ACs) advise the ICANN Board and, in certain cases, can raise issues for policy development. The SO/ACs are described in more detail later in this booklet. ICANN staff is responsible for executing and implementing policies developed by the ICANN community and adopted by the ICANN Board.
The ICANN Ombudsman is an independent, impartial and neutral person contracted to ICANN, with jurisdiction over problems and complaints made about decisions, actions or inactions by ICANN, the Board of Directors, or unfair treatment of a community member by ICANN staff, Board or a constituency body. The Nominating Committee is a team of community volunteers responsible for the selection of eight ICANN Board members, and portions of the At-Large Advisory Committee, the Country Code Names Supporting Organization and the Generic Names Supporting Organization.