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Impartial and Confidential: Ombudsman in Beijing | ICANN 46 | Beijing | 5 Apr 2013

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I'm Chris LaHatte, I'm the ICANN Ombudsman. I came to it from a background as a lawyer. After many years as a litigation lawyer, I came to realize that maybe there are sometimes better ways of dealing with disputes.

One of the things that appealed to me about the Ombudsman model is that it's informal and you can get directly to the issues.

Welcome everybody. This session is about the ICANN Ombudsman.

I'm not a U.S citizen and I don't live in the United States.

I'd like to start off by saying welcome. And I'm sharing with you the Maori language from where I come, which is New Zealand.

Sometimes you feel that you're a bit on the edge of the world in New Zealand. But I think it's important that I am outside of the mainstream. I want to be seen as someone who is approachable and, frankly, the remoteness does help.

An Ombudsman is a protector of the people. He's an investigator, and what's important is that he is impartial and neutral and confidential.

I get visitors who drop in and say, "Well, I might have a problem." And they often talk it through with me and that's useful, having someone to discuss the problems with, particularly when they know it's confidential. It's the parties who make the decision, it's what the parties themselves have agreed, and my role is to facilitate that.

But if we come and see the Ombudsman, it can be as simple as, just talking to me as we are now.

Ok.

And then, sometimes I fix problems by just walking over to the other person and starting a dialogue.

Yes.

So, it's all about informality and problem solving.

The most important power that I've got is that, under the ICANN Bylaws, if I require information, people must give it to me, and that is enormously helpful because it enables me to take a balanced view of what's happened. If people know that everything that can be done can be assessed as to whether or not it's a fair resolved, then that promotes an atmosphere where people create far better trust. They know that behind all of this there is an Ombudsman who can investigate in a fair and a respectful manner.

I think what's challenging about ICANN is the incredible diversity that you just can't make any assumptions about the background of anybody who's involved. And they all see the work that they're doing through ICANN, through sometimes very different cultural lenses, and that's one of the exciting things about ICANN. We've got some values that we look at in the office and diversity issues are something we are very strong on.

For me it's about bringing them together and restoring peace and harmony. If I were religious I would call it "building up karma" or something like that. But I just love doing that.

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Duration: 3 minutes and 33 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: icann on Apr 24, 2013

Impartial and Confidential: Ombudsman in Beijing | ICANN 46 | Beijing | 5 Apr 2013

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