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UK ccTLD Manager Nominet Teams Up with ICANN


By Derek Iwasiuk
July 04, 2006

ICANN has signed an exchange of letters with Nominet, the United Kingdom country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) manager. With this act the organizations showed their willingness for future cooperation and Nominet became the seventh registry to formalize their relationship with ICANN in the past two months.

Nominet will also join ICANN's country code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) to ensure that the .uk domain name space is represented in the global Internet arena. Nominet will be the largest registry to join the ccNSO since it was established.

Announced by ICANN in February, the Accountability Framework program provides two mechanisms by which ccTLD managers can formalise their relationship with ICANN. The first is an Accountability Framework document that sets out the obligations of a ccTLD manager and ICANN. It also covers dispute resolution and termination and is designed for ccTLD managers requiring a formal document with ICANN.

The second mechanism is an exchange of letters between ICANN and the ccTLD manager designed for those for whom a simple statement of commitment is more appropriate.

Commenting on the letter exchange with Nominet, Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN said: "We are pleased that this exchange of letters has taken place, reinforcing the continuing momentum of ICANN and its ever strengthening relationships with Internet registries."

"The new Accountability Framework program will streamline the process of formalising relationships with ICANN and we expect that more ccTLD managers will make use of these mechanisms in the near future".

Lesley Cowley, Nominet's Chief Executive said, "We have been encouraged by the steps that ICANN has taken recently to improve its models of engagement with the Internet community. Whilst there is still work to do, we are confident that it is moving in the right direction and we are keen to provide support."


As the Internet has evolved over time, and commercialised, one of the areas of interest of stakeholders has been the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to recognise responsible entities and to reflect informal relationships, thereby clarifying respective roles and responsibilities.

Since 2000, ICANN has been working with managers of ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs that have been established for countries and some territories) to document further their relationship with ICANN. These relationships are complex, because of the varying circumstances (in terms of type of organisation, policies followed, economics, language, culture, legal environment, and relations with governments) of different ccTLDs and the organisations that operate them.

ICANN has formalised relationships with a number of ccTLD managers, such as .au, .jp and .ke through sponsorship agreements. However, in recognition that these agreements are very detailed documents ICANN sought the ccNSO's assistance to develop a broadly agreed set of baseline criteria which could form the basis for what has become known as an accountability framework. ICANN intended to develop an accountability framework document based on the broadly agreed baselines, with the flexibility to individually tailor the document in respect of individual ccTLD circumstances. The document would be as lightweight as possible.

The initial request for assistance was made at the ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 2004.

The ccNSO subsequently formed an Accountability Frameworks Working Group comprising members of the ccNSO and the broader ccTLD community. In addition to discussion among members of the working group, significant discussions were also held during ccNSO meetings in Cape Town, Mar del Plata and Luxembourg.

On 14 December 2005, the ccNSO Council resolved to publish the Accountability Framework Working Group Interim Report as guidelines for ccTLD managers to consider when discussing an accountability framework with ICANN. On 19 December 2005, the Council published the resolution to the ccNSO members list and as seven days has lapsed since this publication without objection the guidelines are now operational. The guidelines were published on the ICANN ccNSO website on 6 January 2006.

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