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Building and Documenting Stronger Relationships with External Organisations

Chris Buckridge — 08 Nov 2016
The RIPE NCC is building relationships with external organisations and documenting the relationships we already have in order to broaden the support for and understanding of RIPE, the RIPE NCC and the global registry system.

The RIPE NCC has relationships with many other organisations. Of course, there are our members – nearly 15,000 organisations and individuals from around the world (though based mainly in our service region) – but these relationships are relatively straightforward and detailed in the Standard Service Agreement (SSA) signed by all members.

Beyond the membership, though, is a diverse (and growing) range of organisations with whom we work in various ways: technical coordination organisations, industry groups, public regulators, law enforcement groups, academic institutions and more.

In building these relationships, our essential goal is to broaden the support for and understanding of RIPE, the RIPE NCC and the global registry system. Other stakeholders are looking for different things out of such relationships – assistance with capacity building efforts, more effective communication, support in engaging with the RIPE Policy Development Process, and factual information from the RIPE NCC on its services and activities. By identifying both our own needs and the needs of our colleagues in other organisations, we can develop mutually beneficial ways of working together.

As the RIPE NCC's working relationships extend beyond the "traditional" Internet community, our membership and community have a reasonable interest in understanding the nature of these relationships in terms of what commitments have been made and what agreements have been reached. The RIPE NCC has always been committed to transparency about these relationships; however, as the number of organisations with whom we engage increases, full reporting to the membership and community has become more of a challenge.

As a way to address this need for transparency, the RIPE NCC plans to document the existing relationships we have, and establish more formal, documented relationships with other organisations, particularly in our service region. We expect these will generally take the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) or Letters of Understanding (LoUs), which will detail the nature of these relationships in clear, unambiguous terms. In past years, the RIPE NCC has signed MoUs/LoUs with organisations such as APNIC, ICANN, CEPT Com-ITU and EuroDIG, which serve as examples of the kinds of documents we expect to establish with other organisations in the future.

The specific topics covered by each of these MoUs/LoUs will depend on the particular organisation, of course, but some examples include agreements to promote IPv6 deployment, support for capacity building through training and technical expertise, and attendance at each other’s meetings.

As well as ensuring transparency, we believe that this recognition will build stronger, more durable relationships, ensuring a documented connection at the organisational level. In this way, we can build a network of relationships and connections supporting the legitimacy, authority and accountability of the RIPE NCC, the RIPE community and the global registry system. At a moment when plenty of other stakeholders are looking closely at the autonomy and accountability of open, bottom-up policy-making, building a supportive alliance of diverse stakeholders is of benefit to the whole community. You can learn more about our external engagement plans and why we believe these efforts are so valuable to the RIPE NCC membership and RIPE community in this presentation by RIPE NCC Executive Board member Maria Häll at RIPE 73. 

The RIPE NCC has collected all current agreements on a new page on ripe.net, and we will add and communicate new documents as they are established. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your comments below, or to raise any questions or comments on the RIPE Cooperation Working Group mailing list.

2 Comments

Alexander Isavnin says:
09 Nov, 2016 10:32 AM
Thank you for this improvement of transparency!
But there are some kind of agreements are not mentioned. For example, agreements for supporting local NOGs and events.
Chris Buckridge says:
10 Nov, 2016 03:21 PM
Thanks for your comment, Alexander. The RIPE NCC supports a wide range of community events, including NOGs and local Internet governance events - details of this activity can be found in the Draft Activity Plan & Budget 2017 (section 3.5 - Member Outreach). These are specific, one-off events and activities, and therefore they don’t generally involve any formal agreements between us and another party. The agreements we have included on the new webpage and that I'm discussing in this article are more general, ongoing agreements of cooperation between the RIPE NCC and other organisations. I hope that distinction makes sense. In both cases, we’ve tried to make our involvement clear and transparent.
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