Eight governments will face off against nine ICANN directors and an outside lawyer at the Governmental Advisory Committee showdown in Brussels at the end of the month.
That’s according to a draft agenda for the two-day bilateral meeting on new top-level domains, posted to an ICANN mailing list over the weekend.
The GAC’s 12 remaining concerns appear to have lumped together into eight thematic sessions, each of which is assigned one or more GAC reps, ICANN directors and staffers to “lead” the discussions.
The lead governments are: the US, UK, European Commission, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sri Lanka and Kenya. The US will lead or jointly lead three of the eight sessions.
Bruce Tonkin of Melbourne IT has been assigned the unenviable task of representing the ICANN board on the “morality and public order objections” issue, which the US government is currently trying to recast as a governmental right of veto over new TLDs.
Tonkin recently told ICANN’s GNSO Council that he believes Brussels will be focused on trying to understand the GAC’s current objections to new TLDs and help the GAC understand where ICANN has tried to take its previous advice into account.
If the GAC still does not believe that their advice has been heeded, the Board and GAC may discuss how the GAC advice could be taken into account in such a way that the interests of the overall ICANN community continue to be balanced.
He added that any “significant changes” proposed post-Brussels will likely be taken to the rest of the ICANN community for discussion at the San Francisco meeting, March 13.
Any changes proposed by the GAC would have to be “mutually agreeable between the GAC and the rest of the ICANN community”, he wrote.
The trademark protection discussion, likely to be one of the livelier sessions, will be led by the US, UK and Sri Lanka, with Rita Rodin Johnston, Ram Mohan and Gonzalo Navarro representing the board.
ICANN also plans to lawyer up. According to the document, the sole board lead on registry-registrar separation is Joe Sims, ICANN’s long-time outside counsel, a partner with the law firm Jones Day.