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Chehade rules out move to Geneva

Kevin Murphy, April 5, 2014, 11:48:47 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade yesterday called for an end to “speculation” about plans to move the organization’s headquarters out of US jurisdiction to Geneva, Switzerland.

Responding to a reporter’s question during a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, Chehade said:

I did not say that I’m moving ICANN to Geneva. This is speculation because we opened an office in Geneva… People conflate things because they’d like to. If you can find a statement saying we’re moving to Geneva I’d like to see it.

I can’t even make that decision. I told you, I can’t even change the coffee, so the board will have to make this decision and the board can’t make this decision without community agreement. And do you think our community will agree to move thousands of contracts we have today that are working marvelously in California to another place? Why would we do that? So let’s stop the speculation on this, I have no plans to move ICANN to Geneva. We have an office in Geneva, that’s the end of it.

The speculation, which DI indulged in following a Swiss newspaper report in February, was not of course only rooted in the fact that ICANN had opened an office in Geneva.

On February 17, ICANN’s board of directors approved the creation of several “President’s Globalization Advisory Groups”, one of which was tasked with looking at ways to:

Establish complementary parallel international structure to enhance ICANN’s global legitimacy. Consider complementary parallel international structure within scope of ICANN’s mandate.

That seemed to indicate pretty clearly that ICANN was looking outside of the US for a “parallel international structure”. Geneva, home of many international organizations, seemed like a prime candidate.

However, just six weeks later, March 27, ICANN’s board dissolved these committees, stating that they were no longer needed in light of the process to transition stewardship of the DNS root away from the US government.

Chehade’s statement, coupled with the board’s resolution, means Geneva appears to be off the cards for now.

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Comments (1)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    The contracts issue apply only to GDD(gTLD contracts), not to whole ICANN. IANA, including ccTLDs relationship that are based on MoUs, could easily be moved to a Switzerland-based legal framework. It’s of notice that even new gTLD contracts with governmental organizations operating registries defer arbitration procedures to Switzerland, not to the US.

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