About the GAC
The GAC is an advisory committee to ICANN, created under the ICANN ByLaws. It provides advice to ICANN on public policy aspects of ICANN’s responsibilities with regard to the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). The GAC is not a decision-making body. It advises ICANN on issues that are within ICANN’s scope.
Role of the GAC
GAC advice has a particular status under the ICANN ByLaws. Its advice must be duly taken into account by the ICANN Board, and where the Board proposes actions inconsistent with GAC advice it must give reasons for doing so and attempt to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
The GAC appoints a non-voting liaison to the ICANN Board. This is normally the GAC Chair.
Why does ICANN have a Governmental Advisory Committee?
ICANN is a multi-stakeholder entity in which governments need to participate alongside the domain names industry, the technical community, business and non-commercial users, and civil society. The GAC was established in 1999, in parallel with ICANN's first public meetings, and has operated continuously since then.
ICANN looks to the GAC for advice on public policy aspects of specific issues for which ICANN has responsibility. This is an important dimension of ICANN's work.
How does the GAC operate?
The GAC determines its own operating procedures and these are set out in the GAC Operating Principles. GAC face-to-face meetings are held in conjunction with ICANN meetings, which currently occur three times a year.
Advice from the GAC to ICANN is determined on the basis of consensus. Advice is conveyed to the ICANN Board, usually in the form of a communiqué issued at the end of each GAC meeting. Each communiqué and the minutes of GAC meetings are made available online.
The GAC also works inter-sessionally on priority issues, usually via teleconferencing. In addition, working groups are used to focus on particular areas such as working methods and issues for future gTLDs.
The work of the GAC is supported by a dedicated Secretariat provided by ACIG (an independent consulting firm) and by ICANN staff.
Benefits of GAC Membership
The Internet domain name system is a key part of critical Internet infrastructure for the global digital economy. Governments and inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) who participate through the GAC benefit from:
- The opportunity to provide advice direct to the ICANN Board on public policy aspects of the operation of the Internet domain name system.
- Contributing at an early stage of ICANN's policy development processes to ensure consistency with laws and public interest.
- Access to face to face meetings and online discussion with other GAC members and observers, including national governments and inter-governmental organisations, which inform development of GAC advice.
- Access to relevant subject matter experts within the GAC and across ICANN, enabling GAC members to remain informed about technical innovation in the domain name system and its future evolution.