ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee elects a new Chair

| August 8, 2018

A colleague from Argentina pulled me aside during a crowded cocktail hour at the end of a long day of ICANN meetings in Johannesburg in June 2017 and quietly asked me: “Would you like to be the ALAC Chair?”

I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly at first, but when I realised what he had said, it suddenly became one of those “OMG” moments. That someone from the Cook Islands – a sparsely populated (14,000) New Zealand protectorate in the South Pacific, with a monopoly ISP, still only serviced by satellite, no significant internet policies, that few people would even find on their maps – would be asked to lead ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), seemed pretty unbelievable.

The current Chair was retiring, and I had been selected by a group of my ALAC colleagues as their most likely candidate.

ICANN is the “Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers” and is a multi-stakeholder organisation responsible for the global coordination of domain names and IP addresses that end-users need to have in order to connect to the internet.

The ALAC is a team of 15 representatives from the 5 regions of the globe whose purpose within ICANN is to represent the interests of the world’s internet end-users – nearly 4 billion of them.

Following my nomination in May 2018, I submitted my Statement of Interest with a design in my head of how I would lead this already diverse ALAC unit as well as their five regional organisations (RALOs) consisting of over 200 member-organisations and hundreds of individual members world-wide.

The actual election was held in Panama City (June 2018). My fellow candidate, Tijani Ben Jemaa from Tunisia, and I underwent a gruelling interview session involving all of our ALAC colleagues.

Tijani had been involved in ICANN and the ALAC for many years. I was a fledgling by comparison, having attended my first ICANN meeting in Cartegena, Colombia, in 2010. Thousands attend these meetings that are held around the world three times a year, with UN interpreters on hand at every meeting session.

My fellowship to attend the Cartegena meeting enabled me to personally experience the immensity and diversity of the ICANN community, consisting of different sections that cater for governments (GAC), businesses (GNSO), country codes (ccNSO), security (SSAC), IP techies (ASO) and anyone who uses, owns or manages a domain name.

Together with these other groups, we all contribute to the development and formulation of policies that coordinate how the internet is used and to ensure an open and globally interoperable internet.

My term as the ALAC Chair formally commences after the public AGM of the ICANN Board at the Barcelona meeting in Spain, October 2018.

(Photo: The Asia-Pacific Regional At-Large Organization (APRALO) leadership team)

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Maureen Hilyard

Maureen Hilyard is a Cook Islander, born and educated in NZ. She has project-managed several government projects dealing with the environment, gender equality and e-government and serves on a number of committees developing internet and infrastructure in the Cook Islands.