By Michael Ouma
DotConnectAfrica has objected to the recent advice issued by the Government Advisory Committee to ICANN over the contentious ".africa" gTLD after the ICANN 50 meeting in London.
In its objection, DotConnectAfrica (DCA) terms the GAC advice as "as improper and betraying a failure on the part of ICANN to adequately educate and inform GAC representatives."
States DCA on its response to GAC Advice: "Based upon these concerns and for the above noted reasons, we object to the GAC's advice as improper and betraying a failure on the part of ICANN to adequately educate and inform GAC representatives. We expect ICANN to decline to follow the London GAC Advice with regard to .africa, consistent with its obligations under the Bylaws and other documents governing ICANN and the IRP."
DCA's response follows GAC's new advice provided through London Communiqué in which the committee notes that it "provided consensus advice articulated in the April 11, 2013 communique that the DotConnectAfrica (DCA) application for dotAfrica should not proceed."
Adds GAC in its London communiqué: "The GAC welcomes the June 2013 decision by the New gTLD Program Committee to accept GAC advice on this application. The GAC notes the recent action taken to put on hold the ZACR African Union Commission endorsed application due to the Independent Review Panel (IRP) mandated by ICANN Bylaws."
GAC further asks the ICANN Board "act expeditiously in prioritising their deliberations and delegate .africa pursuant to the registry agreement signed between ICANN and ZACR," a request that has irked DCA whose application for the dotAfrica gTLD is still before an Independent Review Panel or IRP.
DCA in its objection states that GAC's advice "demonstrates both the African Union's inappropriate efforts to determine the outcome of the applications for .africa and ICANN's improper acquiescence to the GAC's demands."
"This quite unnecessary advice has been received in the midst of an ongoing independent review process, where DotConnectAfrica has requested further determination of the status surrounding the mal treatment of its application at the hands of the ICANN board and GAC. The IRP panel issued an interim order directing ICANN not to take any further action on the UniForum/ZACR application, since delegation of .africa to ZACR would effectively deny DCA any remedy whatsoever," states DCA in its response.
DCA further takes issue with GAC's Advice telling ICANN to "act expeditiously" to delegate .africa to ZACR on release of the IRP recommendation, (regardless of the IRP's final outcome and panel decision) as "highly inappropriate".
DCA states that GAC "assumes that the IRP concerning .africa is mere window dressing, an empty formality put in place so that ICANN can claim that it is meeting its obligations of transparency and accountability, but which will have no effect whatsoever on the presumptive delegation of .africa to the party favored by the GAC."
Those familiar with ICANN processes and procedures pertaining to new gTLDs are also of the opinion that GAC was not supposed to issue an advice on matter that's going through an IRP.
GAC was formed to provide advice to ICANN on public policy aspects of ICANN's responsibilities with regard to the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). It's thus not a decision-making body but only advises ICANN on issues that are within ICANN's scope.
Since the second GAC Advice was issued, ICANN is yet to react to it while DCA has now sat back, waiting for the final decision from the IRP.