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Work Efforts

The GAC regularly considers a broad range of public policy issues impacting the DNS and other matters regarding the functions of ICANN. This work can result in consensus advice for the ICANN Board or public comment guidance to the ICANN community. This part of the website shares information related to those ongoing topics and activities.

New gTLDs - Subsequent Rounds - Geographic Names as TLDs (WT5)

Last Updated: 11 Jan 2021
Status: Completed
Lead: Olga Cavalli, Argentina

Why Geographic Names and Their Consideration at ICANN Matter to Governments ?

The use of geographic names and indicators in the DNS is an important subject matter for governments in Internet governance policy. The uses of such names, either as a Second-Level Domain names (SLD), or as a Top-Level Domain name (TLD), raise sovereignty and socio-economic concerns for many governments.

In ICANN policy-making discussions, this has proved a complex, multi-layered and disputed matter for many years. There are currently multiple strands of discussion under the heading of “geographic names”, in which the GAC and its Member may be involved to some extent, with a varying degree of concerns:

At the second-level of the DNS:

The use of country-codes as second-level domain names in New gTLDs
The use of country and territory Names as second-level domain names in New gTLDs

At the top-level of the DNS:

The .AMAZON New gTLD Applications (not approved by ICANN so far)
The .VIN/.WINE New gTLD Application (approved and delegated by ICANN, see: .WINE and .VIN)
The use of country and territory names as top-level domains (see below for more details)

This page focuses on the latter of these strands of discussions and intends to reflect the latest developments while providing the necessary background and tools for effective GAC participation.

Short History of Geographic Names Policy Discussions at ICANN

In its 2007 Principles Regarding New gTLDs, the GAC stated, as a public policy principle applicable to the introduction, delegation and operation of new generic top level domains (gTLDs), that:

2.2 ICANN should avoid country, territory or place names, and country, territory or regional language or people descriptions, unless in agreement with the relevant governments or public authorities.

As a consequence, in 2012, as part of first round of so-called "New gTLDs", a set of requirements were included in the Applicant Guidebook (AGB), among which a prohibition of applications for gTLDs representing “country or territory names”, based on, or derived from the ISO 3166-1 standard (see AGB section for exact definition).

In August 2013, a GAC Working Group to Examine the Protection of Geographic Names in any Future Expansion of gTLDs was formed to review and consider any necessary improvements to such requirements. This Working Group has been the venue for GAC discussions of the matter until November 2017.

In March 2014, ICANN’s country code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) and Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) formed of a Cross-Community Working Group on Use of Country and Territory Names as TLDs. While this group examined the feasibility of developing a uniform definitional framework for country and territory names to apply across ICANN’s constituencies, it concluded its work unsuccessfully in November 2017.

In the meantime, in December 2015, the GNSO launched a Policy Development Process on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures to determine whether changes or adjustments to the existing policy on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains are needed.

Current Venue for Community Discussion of Geographic Names as TLDs: Work Track 5 (WT5)

Between April and June 2017, under the impetus of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group, several cross-community discussions were held to further explore the issue of geographic names at the top level, including two pre-ICANN59 webinars, and two ICANN59 cross community sessions.

In November 2017, a new Work Track 5 (WT5) Sub-Team of the PDP Working Group was formally initiated to focus exclusively on the treatment of geographic names at the top level, as part of the GNSO’s ongoing Policy Development Process for potential subsequent rounds of New gTLDs.  

While hosted within the framework of a GNSO PDP Working Group and subject to GNSO Operating Procedures (including specific definitions of consensus), this effort seeks to consolidate-cross community work to date and ensure cross-community collaboration. To the effect, an atypical leadership structure was created to support the work.


Cross-Community Discussion Will be Lead by 4 Co-Leads

Olga Cavalli (GAC)
Martin Sutton (GNSO)
Annebeth Lange (ccNSO)
Christopher Wilkinson (ALAC)


Terms of engagement for the GAC

As part of the rules of engagement of this GNSO PDP WG Work Track (see slides of first WT5 meeting), the GAC has conditionned the terms of its participation as follows:

  1. Terms of Reference for Work Track 5 should be agreed by all participating SOs/ACs. In the case of the GAC, the GAC Chair will consult with the full GAC membership to determine if Terms of Reference are acceptable.
  2. The core principles of cross-community working groups should be included in the terms of reference for Work Track 5. Consistent with this, there should be equal participation of all relevant SOs/ACs, including in assessment of consensus calls, within the Work Track. Final recommendations from the Work Track should be agreed by all participating SOs/ACs before being submitted to the PDP plenary. In the case of the GAC this will require that the GAC adopt a specific position according to its usual procedures.
  3. GAC will, in accordance with its own procedures, consider nomination of members to the Work Track and encourage all GAC members to participate on an individual basis.
  4. In the event that there are one or more objections to a final recommendation then the current rules on geographic names contained in the Applicant Guidebook should continue to apply until a broadly-based consensus solution has been found.
  5. The GAC will continue to exercise its advisory role to the ICANN Board under the Bylaws on issues relating to geographic names, and in doing so will take account of, but will not be bound by, the outcomes of the PDP.

On 1 December 2017the PDP WG Co-Leads, in a communication to the GAC Chair, expressed confidence that these requirements could be accommodated in the GNSO Policy Development Process framework and provided some clarification as to how this should be done.

GAC Membership Participation in WT5 (as of 29 November 2017)

As formal GAC Appointees to WT5:

Argentina (Olga Cavalli) – Co-Lead
Brazil (Benedicto Fonseca Filho)
Colombia (Jaifa Mezher Arango)
India (Rahul Gosain)
Nepal (Subhash Dhakal)
United States (Ashley Heineman)

As WT5 Members:

Burundi (Olivier Francis Cubahiro)
Colombia (Jaifa Mezher Arango)
Georgia (Mzia Gogilashvii)
India (Rahul Gosain)
Iran (Kavouss Arasteh)
Mexico (Israel Rosas)
Morocco (Belaid Nouar)
Namibia (Ziegie Willemse)
Nepal (Subhash Dhakal)
Nigeria (Aderonke Adiniyi)
Pakistan (Syed Iftikhar Hussain)
Rwanda (Charles Semapondo, Vincent Museminali)
Switzerland (Jorge Cancio)
Thailand (Thongchai Sangsiri)
United States (Ashley Heineman, Ryan Carroll, John Rodriguez, Susan Anthony)
Vietnam (Ming Tanh Nguyen)
WBU (Giacomo Mazzone)

ACIG GAC Secretariat (Tom Dale)

As WT5 Observers :

Azerbaijan (Faig Farmanov)
Cameroon (Joseph Etung)
Colombia (Hector Gonzalez)
CTU (Nigel Cassimire)
Denmark (Finn Petersen)
Dominican Republic (Nelson Guillen Bello)
France (Dalila Rahmouni)
Guyana (Lance Hinds)
Italy (Rita Forsi, Maura Gambassi)
Jamaica (Kaydian Smith)
Japan (Masashi Nakagawa, Rika Tsunoda, Shin Takamura, Takahiro Nakade)
Korea (Boyoung Kim)
Malaysia (Nur Yushan Yusof)
Mexico (Miguel Munoz)
Russian Federation (Vyacheslav Erokhin)
Senegal (Malick Ndiaye)
Singapore (Queh Ser Pheng, Michelle Sng, Angela Wibawa)
Sudan (Nadir Ahmed)
Switzerland (Olivier Girard, Stéphane Bondallaz)
Tunisia (Wajdi Garali)
Uganda (Susan Nakanwagi)
Ukraine (Oleksandr Tsaruk)
Uruguay (Alejandra Erramuspe)
Zimbabwe (Frankin Zingani)

The full list of WT5 Participants is available here.


How to Join the Discussion ?

GAC Members interested to join WT5 discussion should use the following New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP WT5 Form and advise the GAC Support Team at gac-staff@icann.org to facilitate our records keeping.

You may choose to join as:

a member: you would be expected to attend conference calls and to actively participate in online discussions
an observer: this would allow you to follow the group's work on the mailing list but you can neither send to the mailing list nor participate actively in the calls

You may also change your status from observer to member, simply by emailing your request to the GNSO Secretariat (gnso-secs@icann.org) and ccing the GAC Support Team (gac-staff@icann.org).

Please also consider reviewing training material that was designed for newcomers to GNSO PDP Working Groups, and in particular to the WT5 sub-team.

GAC Members may also be interested in joining the larger PDP Working Group, by using another registration form and advising the GAC Support Team at gac-staff@icann.org.


How to Catch Up on the Discussion ?

This webpage is a good place to start. It will endeavour to provide for quickly accessible status on process and substance.

There are also a number of ressources available for your reference, including:

Mailing list archives

gac-wt5-coordination@icann.org internal mailing list (If you need your password to access the archives, see here)
Work Track 5 Sub-Team
PDP Working Group

GNSO PDP Working Group Wiki sites

Work Track 5 Sub-Team 
PDP Working Group 

Past Updates

Updated briefing document with all relevant GAC Advice to date on the issue of Geographic Names at the Top Level.

Meeting and Records