ICANN Meetings are held three times a year in various regions around the world in compliance with the ICANN Bylaws, which mandate that the ICANN Board maintains transparency in managing the Internet and provides opportunity for international participation and discussion regarding policy developments that impact the Domain Name System (DNS) and the global Internet community.
ICANN Meetings are organized and coordinated by at least 100 volunteers from ICANN's Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs). A general meeting is held annually to give newly elected members their seats.
ICANN Meetings are open to everyone who is interested in and openly affected by the organization's activities and work. Individuals attending ICANN Meetings include:
- Government Representatives
- Business Managers
- IT Managers and Consultants
- DNS Industry Managers and Experts
- Intellectual Property Managers
- ICANN Fellows
A wide range of topics regarding the many aspects of the Internet and its governance are discussed during the meetings, including the stability and security of the DNS, intellectual property issues, policies affecting the growth and development of the Internet, creation of new top level domains, and many other issues. During ICANN Meetings, workshops, open forums, and remote participation are conducted using different tools, such as live audio streaming, video, chat rooms and online question boxes.
ICANN Meetings are free to attend and are normally held over five days. An outline of the entire week's activities and agenda are provided the morning of the opening day of every ICANN Meeting.
All of ICANN's constituencies hold their own meetings and sessions to discuss their respective concerns and issues. A day is dedicated for the internal review of the ICANN Structure and for the SO's and AC's councils to make decisions on issues raised during the meetings. Workshops are also held to provide the latest information and upcoming issues regarding the internet industry.
Annual elections of officers are also held during the meetings, and reports from the different constituencies of working group are also submitted.
The first ICANN Meeting lasted only three days, while more recent meetings have all lasted just over a week. Monday through Friday has generally been the busiest time of the conference, but certain meetings and working groups often take place the weekend prior to the official start. The schedule also features a number of specialized networking events, provided by various sponsors. These include a Welcoming Reception, a Gala Night, and the Rod Beckstrom-introduced Music Night.
The meetings themselves are a mix of closed and open door sessions between the stakeholder groups, constituencies, and other bodies. The meetings always conclude on Friday with an open board meeting where the week's final resolutions are discussed and voted upon, and time is made to hear from any member of the community via an open mic.
It was announced several months before ICANN 44 in Prague that the Board planned to restructure the meetings so that they ended on Thursday instead of Friday. Friday morning meetings, which have traditionally been the AC/SO committee reports, Board committee reports, and the public Board meeting, had been removed. The committee reports are instead to be published on the ICANN website, and the Public Board Meeting has been replaced by a one hour session following the Public Forum, during which the Board will outline what they heard during the week from their meetings with AC/SOs, and identify which matters they expect to be dealing with before the next meeting. The Board will then begin the following meeting with another community session where it outlines what has been done since the last meeting. Following this announcement, the ICANN community expressed concerns over the loss of transparency that this change brings.
The Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting is required by the ICANN Bylaws to happen at least every 14 months in order to conduct important voting procedures and other structural processes. The last ICANN Meeting of the year is generally designated as the Annual Meeting. The conclusion of the Annual Meeting is when new members of most bodies within ICANN take their seats, most notably the directors of the ICANN Board. Many bodies within ICANN request full attendance from their members. 
Over the years, a variety of sponsorship schemes have been used with relation to ICANN meetings. It has been noted that the initial operation and the first meetings of the organization were made possible through loans from major industry companies, such as MCI, Cisco, and others. Currently, there is a six-tier sponsorship scheme, offering plans ranging in price from $7,500 to $250,000. At one point, the highest level of sponsorship cost $500,000. There is also now the opportunity to sponsor individual "networking events", such as a lunch, coffee break, Music Night, etc.
Highly active and consistent ICANN sponsors include Verisign, Afilias, Neustar, Iron Mountain, and others. It is common for local corporations to sponsor when ICANN's rotating meeting schedule puts the meeting in their region.
Full sponsorship info can be found here.
In November 2006, Susan Crawford led a discussion that resulted in a proposal of recommendations for implementing ICANN meetings in a more efficient, low-cost, and engaging way. Her paper was broken down into three parts: a description of the goals of ICANN meetings; a list of criticisms and concerns about the meetings; proposed solutions for the criticisms. Among other things, her recommendations included a public forum at the beginning of each of the three annual meetings, an online docket that tracks the status of all decisions made, and the establishment of a central hub for one of the three annual meetings. She also called for clearly stated agendas prior to the meetings and accountability in recording and publishing meeting minutes.
Crawford's reform ideas also involved a Public Workshop that was held at the ICANN 27 Sao Paulo meeting, and many of her recommendations had been implemented by May 2008. Among these was ICANN's implementation of a new policy in 2007, which changed the execution and planning of the meetings -- which were handled at that time by the host of the meeting - into the hands of ICANN itself.
In May 2008, a similar call for reforms addressed the concern that ICANN's original meeting structure was outdated. A paper outlined plans to set into motion long-term reforms for ICANN meetings, beginning in 2010. Its main proposal was for the annual meetings to be reduced from three to two, with one being located in a consistent central hub.
A paper published in October 2012 attempted to provide a rationale for the consolidation of future ICANN meetings. The consistent growth of ICANN meetings, ICANN stated, makes it "increasingly difficult to identify new hosts, as well as new host cities with the appropriate facilities." ICANN argues that reducing the frequency of meetings and consolidating them across fewer locales will help increase their quality and predictability, as well as help establish favorable long-term contracts with the facilities. The proposed new plan would reduce the number of cities visited between 2014 and 2016 from nine to seven. Under ICANN's old plan, the meetings would be broken down to include two in Europe, two in North America, two in Asia-Pacific, two in Africa, and one in Latin America. The new plan would include three in Europe and three in Asia-Pacific, but in four countries rather than six. Africa, North America, and Latin America would all have one meeting each.
Meeting Strategy Working Group (MSWG)
Main article: Meeting Strategy Working Group
The MSWG was formed in 2013 to discuss and propose a strategy for future ICANN Meetings beginning in 2015. In February 2014 the MSWG posted a draft document for public comment that outlined its recommendations. The proposed strategy would keep the current regional rotation of the meetings, but change the length of the meetings. The first meeting each year would be 6-7 days, which as of 2014 was the current length of all ICANN meetings. The second meeting of the year would be shorter in duration (3-4 days) and would focus on SO and AC work. This second meeting would ideally be hosted by venues that could not support the larger meetings. The third meeting of the year would be the longest and largest (8-9 days) and would include the AGM and Public Board meetings.
The comment period for the proposal will close March 20th 2014 and a final draft will then be reviewed by the ICANN Board. The Board will then make a decision to adopt the proposed strategies in some form.
Past and Future ICANN Meetings
The primary factors considered in selecting the locations for the ICANN Meetings include: costs, accessibility, convenience, visa restrictions, availability and affordability of local transportation, proximity of hotel accommodations to the venue of the meetings, excellent space and meeting facilities, installation of networks infrastructures in meeting venues and safety and security.
List of ICANN Meetings
Below is the list of past and future ICANN Meetings:
- ICANN 1 - Singapore, Singapore-March 2-4, 1999
- ICANN 2 - Berlin, Germany- May 25-27, 1999
- ICANN 3 - Santiago, Chile- August 23-26, 1999
- ICANN 4 - Los Angeles, CA, USA- November 1-4, 1999
- ICANN 5 - Cairo, Egypt- March 7-10, 2000
- ICANN 6 - Yokohama Japan- July 13-17, 2000
- ICANN 7 - Marina del Rey, CA, USA- November 13-16, 2000
- ICANN 8 - Melbourne, Australia- March 9-13, 2001
- ICANN 9 - Stockholm, Sweden- June 1-4, 2001
- ICANN 10 - Montevideo, Uruguay- September 7-10, 2001
- ICANN 11 - Marina del Rey, CA, USA- November 12-15, 2001
- ICANN 12 - Accra, Ghana- March 10-14, 2002
- ICANN 13 - Bucharest, Romania- June 24-28, 2002
- ICANN 14 - Shanghai, China- October 27-31, 2002
- ICANN 15 - Amsterdam, Netherlands- December 14-15, 2002
- ICANN 16 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- March 23-27, 2003
- ICANN 17 - Montreal, Canada- June 22-26, 2003
- ICANN 18 - Carthage, Tunisia- October 27-31, 2003
- ICANN 19 - Rome, Italy- March 2-6, 2003
- ICANN 20 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- July 19-23, 2003
- ICANN 21 - Cape Town, South Africa- December 1-5, 2004
- ICANN 22 - Mar del Plata, Argentina- April 4-8, 2005
- ICANN 23 - Luxembourg City, Luxembourg- July 11-15, 2005
- ICANN 24 - Vancouver, Canada- November 20-December 4, 2005
- ICANN 25 - Wellington, New Zealand- March 25-31, 2006
- ICANN 26 - Marrakesh, Morocco- June 26-30, 2006
- ICANN 27 - Sao Paulo, Brazil- December 2-8, 2006
- ICANN 28 - Lisbon, Potugal- March 26-30, 2007
- ICANN 29 - San Juan, Puerto Rico- June 25-29, 2007
- ICANN 30 - Los Angeles, CA, USA- October 29-November 2, 2007
- ICANN 31 - New Delhi, India- February 10-15, 2008
- ICANN 32 - Paris, France- June 22-26, 2008
- ICANN 33 - Cairo, Egypt- November 2-7, 2008
- ICANN 34 - Mexico City, Mexico- March 1-6, 2009
- ICANN 35 - Sydney, Australia- June 21-26, 2009
- ICANN 36 - Seoul, Korea- October 25-30, 2009
- ICANN 37 - Nairobi, Kenya- March 7-12, 2010
- ICANN 38 - Brussels, Belgium- June 20-25, 2010
- ICANN 39 - Cartagena de Indias, Colombia- December 5-10, 2010
- ICANN 40 - San Francisco, CA, USA- March 13-18, 2011
- ICANN 41 - Singapore, Singapore- June 19-24, 2011
- ICANN 42 - Dakar, Senegal- October 23-28, 2011
- ICANN 43 - San Jose, Costa Rica- March 11-16, 2012
- ICANN 44 - Prague, Czech Republic June 24-29, 2012
- ICANN 45 - Toronto, Canada- October 14-19, 2012
- ICANN 46 - Beijing, China- April 7-11, 2013
- ICANN 47 - Durban, South Africa- July 14-19, 2013
- ICANN 48 - Buenos Aires, Argentina- November 17-21, 2013
- ICANN 49 - Singapore, Singapore- March 23-27, 2014
- ICANN 50 - London, England- June 22-26, 2014
- ICANN 51 - Los Angeles, CA, USA - 12-16 October 2014
- ICANN 52 - Singapore, Singapore - 8-12 February 2015
- About, ICANN.org.
- Participants, ICANN.org.
- ICANN 41 Opening Transcript, ICANN.org.
- ICANN 40 Schedule, ICANN.org.
- Dot Nxt Op-ed on Beckstrom's Resignation, Dot-Nxt.com. Published 2011 August 16.
- ICANN Wraps Up Prague Meeting on Thursday, ICANN.org. Published 2012 April 30.
- ICANN cancels Fridays. Bad for transparency, DomainIncite.com. Published 2012 May 2.
- ICANN Bylaws, ICANN.org.
- MCI Cisco come to ICANN's rescue, CNET.com.
- VeriSign gives ICANN 500k for Sponsorship, DomainNameWire.com. Published 2011 January 5.
- Sponsorship, ICANN.org.
- Verisign Drops 150,000 on ICANN Singapore, DomainIncite.com. Published 2011 May 23.
- Meeting White Paper, ICANN.org. Published 2006 November. Retrieved 2012 November 20.
- Reform Discussion Paper, ICANN.org. Published 2008 May 16. Retrieved 2012 November 30.
- ICANN Consolidated Meetings Strategy Proposal, ICANN.org. Published 2012 October 2. Retrieved 2012 November 20.
- No more Club Med? America and Africa would lose out under ICANN meetings overhaul, DomainIncite.com. Published 2012 October 2.
- Recommendations 25 Feb 2014, ICANN.org Retrieved 25 Feb 2014
- Meeting Location Criteria, ICANN.org.
- Calendar of Events, ICANN.org.