ICANN Ombudsman Blog Creating Dialogue Affirming Fairness

August 4, 2011

Chris LaHatte appointed as ICANN Ombudsman

Filed under: general — herb.waye @ 7:01 am

Dear ICANN Community,

My name is Chris LaHatte, and I am ICANN’s new Ombudsman.

I will be available online to assist and facilitate the ICANN community as the organization faces many challenges from the gTLD expansion, the huge growth in Internet use in the developing world, and the cultural interplay and resolution from new participants in ICANN.

I am an experienced mediator and lawyer and have practiced in New Zealand, Taiwan and Central Asia. I qualified as a lawyer from the University of Auckland and earned a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from Massey University, with judicial settlement conferences as my thesis. I am a Fellow of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand, a mediator for the New Zealand Law Society on cost issues and a construction law adjudicator.

After practising as a barrister for many years, I have come to see alternative dispute resolution as the most effective tool in dealing with conflict. I have presented papers and written articles about aspects of dispute resolution and other matters and I am an author for Thompson Reuters on court procedure.

Outside of this, I am the husband of Mandy, a schoolteacher, and the father of three teenage children, and I practice my conflict resolution skills on them.

I look forward to serving you, the ICANN Community. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at ombudsman@ICANN.org.

October 26, 2009

Ombudsmen meet in Seoul

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 1:08 am


Jae – oh Lee,  the Chairman of the Republic of Korea Anti – Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, which acts as the Ombudsman for the nation, welcomed Dr. Frank Fowlie, ICANN Ombudsman, for a courtesy call visit.

September 11, 2009

Ombudsman recieves Research Award

Filed under: Evalaution,general — Frank Fowlie @ 11:07 am

Frank Fowlie’s doctoral dissertation on developing a design model for the evaluation of ombudsman operations has received the “Outstanding Research Thesis Merit Award 2008” from La Trobe University.  The ICANN Office of the Ombudsman continues to be a leader in the area of ombudsman evaluation and effectiveness.

The paper may be found at: http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/blueprint-for-evaluation-of-an-ombudsman-nov08.pdf

June 9, 2009

Celebrating the 200Th Anniversary of the Swedish Ombudsman Institution

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 1:06 am

Stockholm plays host to several hundred Ombudsman and staff this week in celebration of the 200Th anniversary of the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman.  This celebration is held in tandem with the 9Th International Ombudsman Institute World Conference.

The conference website may be found at: http://www.ioi2009.com/

Today, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan will address the assembly of Ombudsmen.

May 11, 2009

Ombudsman adds new page to website

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 12:32 pm

The new page, found at:   http://icann.org/ombudsman/respectful-communication-en.htm     has been posted to provide community members with information on respectful communication and behaviour.


I view respectful communication as critical issue for ICANN in this phase of its development as an organization.  During each year, I receive a number of complaints, which, at their essence, deal with hurt feelings resulting from disrespectful online or in person communications or behaviours.  Members of the community are asked to bear in mind that fellow community members, volunteers, stakeholders, and staff members are all deserving of considerate treatment.  Members of the community are asked to bear in mind that the diversity of thought, and diversity of participants, in this unique – bottom up – consensus driven – multilingual and multicultural organization is ICANN’s strength.

April 27, 2009

ICANN Board approves Ombudsman Framework

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 4:28 pm

The ICANN Board of Directors has ratified the Ombudsman Framework as the operational guideline for the Office of the Ombudsman.  The approved document may be found here
The approved Framework will be translated into five languages in the coming weeks, and these will be posted to the website in due course.

March 16, 2009

ICANN posts Ombudsman Framework for comment

Filed under: general,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 5:11 am

Following a resolution of the Board of Directors at the Mexico City Meeting, ICANN has posted the revised Ombudsman Framework for community comment.  Please see: http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-13mar09-en.htm


The Ombudsman Framework was originally posted for public comment in 2004.  It has been the subject of a review by the Board Governance Committee, which has added to the fabric of the document.  The Ombudsman has asked that the Board ratify the Framework protocols as the operating policies and procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman.  As there has been additional text placed in the document, following a very positive and successful discussion between the Board Governance Committee and the Ombudsman, the Board has asked for community input before finalizing the Framework.  Comments will be accepted until April 12.

The following blog post is found at: http://ombuds-blog.blogspot.com/

ICANN Opens Comment Period for Ombuds Protocol

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will take comments from the public until April 12 on the revised Ombudsman Framework. The ICANN Ombuds program is based on the standards for Organizational Ombuds, but serves only external constituents. According to the Framework, the Ombuds has no jurisdiction over complaints concerning internal administrative matters or personnel issues. The ICANN Ombuds also loses jurisdiction if a complainant initiates a formal complaint process or legal proceeding. The ICANN Ombuds is authorized to issue written reports on individual matters and may waive confidentiality if necessary to further resolution of a complaint. Organizational Ombuds will be interested to compare these and other differences in their practice.

March 6, 2009

ICANN Board of Directors deliberates the Ombudsman Framework

Filed under: general,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 11:16 am

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:   We come, then, to a recommendation concerning the ombudsman framework, which are the effectively the rules by which the ombudsman operates.  And Steve Goldstein, can I ask you to take us through this? 

 STEVE GOLDSTEIN:  Yes, Chair, I’d be delighted.  I don’t believe that our ombudsman, Frank Fowlie is here.  I think he’s probably still having office hours.

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Yes, I understand he’s still doing the work of the ombudsman in his office.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN:  Yeah, I understand he’s had quite a procession at his door.  So let me just say a few words. 

Frank has distinguished himself in the ombudsman community.  He has pioneered with online dispute resolution in ombudsman situations.  He recently received his doctorate and, for lack of a better word, let’s say an ombudsmanship, but I’m sure there’s a more precise title that goes with it, and he has seen great credit redound upon ICANN in the ombudsman world and in the dispute resolution world.  So we’re very proud of Frank.  Nevertheless, Frank has had some of his ideas about how his procedures should be conducted and we have had some of our ideas about it, and over the past few years, we’ve had a — the ombudsman frame back go back and forth and finally we’ve achieved closure on it, and both parties are satisfied.

 So with that in mind, I would read the resolution.

Whereas, the ombudsman submitted a draft ombudsman framework to the board for approval.

 And whereas, the draft ombudsman framework was posted for public comment in 2004.

 And whereas, the board’s request that the governance committee — whereas, at the board’s request, the governance committee has suggested revisions to the framework and has had several discussions with the ombudsman about those revisions.

 Whereas, the governance committee and the ombudsman have reached agreement on revised language to the ombudsman framework.

 Whereas, the revised ombudsman framework documents the procedures and processes under which the ombudsman currently operates.

 Whereas, the BGC — in other words, the governance committee — has recommended that the board approve the posting of the framework for further public comment.

It is resolved that the ombudsman framework as revised be posted for further public comment and considered at the next possible board meeting or be returned to the Board Governance Committee for additional consultation.

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Thank you, Steve.  Is there a seconder for this resolution?  Thank you, Dennis.

Any discussion?  Thomas.

THOMAS ROESSLER:  As I mentioned in my previous remark, I’ve had a history, and I was actually quite amused to see a public comment period come up that dates from the time when I first dropped out of ICANN business.

That’s been five years ago.  I think the ombudsman is fulfilling an incredibly important function in the overall scheme of things.  I also think that we need to learn — we need to see what we have learned about this framework in the meantime, so I would urge you to take this comment period seriously and use it.

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Thank you, Thomas.  Any other contributions?

 Seeing none, I’ll put the resolution.  All those in favor please raise their hands.

 [Show of hands].

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Any opposed?  Abstentions?  Carried.  Thank you.






March 2, 2009

Transcript of the Ombudsman’s presentation at the ALAC Summit

Filed under: general,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 7:54 am

>>CHERYL LANGDON ORR:   We were just looking around to see if we have got the ombudsman in the room.
>>VANDA SCARTEZINI:   He is over there.
>>CHERYL LANGDON ORR:   Don’t behind up the back, Frank.  We need you down here.
There is a beautiful line of seats there so we poor chairs can know who is lined up next.
So if you are a speaker, perhaps you could lurk about down there, and even more to the point, come to here just before you are coming up to speak.
So Theresa, if you can come down so we know you are here as well.
You are ready, yes.  You are poised.
Welcome, Mr. Ombudsman.
It is my honor and pleasure to introduce to you the at-large.  Each one of these people have hundreds, if not thousands, of real Internet users behind them.  And your task this morning is to explain the role of your office.
The stage is yours.
>>FRANK FOWLIE:   Good morning, everybody.
(saying hello in a different languages).
I am very happy to be here in Mexico City.
I will make my remarks in English because if I did it in Spanish the translators would have a great deal of difficulty.
I have been asked to address three particular questions for you today, and I’ll go through them one by one.  But before I do, I would like to point out that my office did send down some printed material.  There are annual reports available for you.  I believe they are outside.  Lapel pins, and multilingual brochures in several languages, and I encourage you to take them away.
I will have an office during the week in the business center, and if any of you would like to either ask questions or bring issues to me for review, I will be most happy to set up a time to meet with you there.
The activities that my office is engaged in are part of a systemic view that ICANN has in how it deals with conflict and disputes.
The office of the ombudsman is one of three internal conflict management systems that ICANN established in its bylaws.  The office of the ombudsman is informal, private and confidential, and it deals specifically with issues that concern unfairness, not necessarily substantive issues.
For example, the decision made by ICANN was wrong.  ICANN, in the view of the office of the ombudsman can make any decision that it wants so long as the process to get to that decision was made fairly.
So it can be the worst decision in the world, but it needs to be by a fair process.
Conversely, it can be absolutely the best decision in the world, but if the process wasn’t fair, then obviously members of the community can come to my office.
My jurisdiction relates specifically to the actions, decisions, or inactions by ICANN staff, the board, or its supporting structures, such as ALAC.  The principles of the office include independence, impartiality, neutrality and confidentiality.
The other mechanisms that ICANN has to deal with disputes are the newly institutionalized redress mechanism through the Board Governance Committee, which had, in the past, been the board reconsideration committee, and the independent review panel.
The normal work of the office is to receive complaints about the actions, decisions, or inactions of the organization, by members of the community or stakeholders, and to use a wide spectrum of alternative dispute resolution techniques to try to resolve the issue.
And when needed, to provide reports to the Board of Directors suggesting individual and systemic redress, and to try to prevent further unfair necessary from happening in the future.
The perspectives where the views of the individual Internet users are important to my office obviously are if those persons are impacted by what they believe is an unfair act, decision, or inaction by the organization.
We encourage, actively, for members of the community to contact my office as the lowest possible temperature for resolving conflict in an informal way before accelerating through to other processes, which, while they may be very important in resolving disputes, lack, in my humble view, the timely and informal way that the office of the ombudsman can deal with disputes.
Individual users of the Internet have made complaints in the past, and these have led to both individual and systemic improvements in the way that ICANN conducts its business.
Presently, the office of the ombudsman is into its five-year or summative review process.  And shortly a group of masters students from Pepperdine University will be inviting community feedback about the office of the ombudsman, so your input into that serving will be most appreciative and helpful.
And the third question I have been asked to address is the opportunities for increased engagement with the ALAC community.  Actually, I hope, with respect to ALAC and its community, that we have decreased.  I think the Chair and I are both in agreement that the most — the least amount of time we have to spend talking about conflict within the ALAC or from ALAC members, the happier all concerned would be.
However, if members of the community, as individual Internet users, are not pleased with the manner in which they are being treated by the organization, I am always amenable to receive complaints or contacts.
And there is a large body of information on www.icannombudsman.org in a number of languages that talks about the office.
We have our annual reports are posted there, case reports are posted there, as well as a method to be able to send direct and secure and confidential e-mail contact to me.
And with that, madam chairman, unless there is anything else you would like me to speak about, I will turn the dais back over to you.

(Fowlie and Langdon Orr share a hug)
 [ Applause ]
>>CHERYL LANGDON ORR:   That was a very deliberate act between Frank and I, although totally unscripted.
ALAC has been at a very early history in rather more conflict than it has in proactive work and cooperation with the ombudsman office.  We are just proving to you all that it we, in fact, talk very well and we are working together.
Thank you also for gaining some time back into our schedule.
Greatly appreciate that.

ICANN Chairman comments on the Ombudsman function at the Opening Ceremony to the 34th ICANN Public Meeting at Mexico City

Filed under: general,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 7:36 am


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