Application Comment Details


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DotConnectAfrica

DotConnectAfrica Trust

ZA Central Registry NPC trading as Registry.Africa

AFRICA

1-1243-89583

Legal Rights Objection Ground

AU Cannot Re-designate Registry Function

4 September 2012 at 15:15:46 UTC

The Agreement between the African Union and UniForum grants the AU the right to re-designate the registry function of the .AFRICA gTLD String.

The published parts of the application for .AFRICA submitted by UniForum contains the following statement: “It should be noted that the AUC shall retain all rights relating to the dotAfrica TLD, including in particular, intellectual property and other rights to the registry databases required to ensure the implementation of the agreement between the AUC and the ZACR, and the right to re-designate the registry function”. Our understanding is that the Agreement between AU Commission and UniForum grants AU the right to re-designate or re-delegate the registry function of the .AFRICA string. This implies that the AU expects to be able to appoint or re-designate the registry function of .AFRICA to another operator if it has all rights relating to the dotAfrica (.AFRICA) TLD coupled with the rights to the registry databases. We believe that these provisions in the agreement are a clear usurpation of the governance authority of ICANN under the new gTLD program. There is no specification within the Guidebook or the new gTLD Registry Agreement that gives this type of authority to re-delegate strings or re-designate registry functions to AU Commission. DCA’s understanding is that after successful evaluation and other requirements such as pre-delegation testing, ICANN will approve the delegation of a successful application for a string for a 10-year period based on the new gTLD Registry Agreement to be signed between ICANN and a registry operator. Therefore, this agreement between a third-party such as the AU and UniForum ZACR that gives AU the right to re-delegate the string name or re-designate the registry function is a clear violation of the new gTLD program stipulations, and this should be noted and severely penalized by the ICANN Evaluation.

Moreover, we believe that such a contract agreement that grants the AU the right to re-delegate a string that it does not legitimately own or re-designate a registry function to another operator, is similar to the request made by the AU to include the .AFRICA name string and its representation in any other language in the List of Top-Level Reserved Names. We believe that if ICANN has already made it clear that the .AFRICA name string does not belong to the AU Commission, then the AU has no legal basis to retain all rights relating to the dotAfrica TLD and appoint a registry operator for it, assume the rights to the registry databases for .AFRICA, and the right to re-delegate the .AFRICA string or re-designate the registry function; all in violation of the new gTLD program guidelines and ICANN new gTLD Registry Agreement. We think that these issues are serious enough since they clearly attempt to undermine ICANN’s legitimate authority over .AFRICA. We believe that it is in the global public interest to report these observations which are deliberate infractions that have been committed by UniForum ZACR and AU acting arbitrarily, and with impunity in open violation of the new gTLD program guidelines. We firmly believe that the political and diplomatic influence exercised by the AU over African governments does not give it the legal rights to the dotAfrica (.AFRICA) TLD.

We therefore urge the ICANN Evaluation to note this comment which should be considered as grounds for the UniForum application for .Africa not to pass the ICANN Evaluation process.