[LACNIC/Politicas] Discusions summary [EN]

Ricardo Patara patara at lacnic.net
Mon May 12 16:49:55 BRT 2008

Here it follows a summary of discussions that toke place in the Policy mailing
list during the last week.

During the last week the list discussed the definition of
consensus and what policy proposal discussions seek to achieve.

The complete version of messages are in:


The main question was regarding consensus being majority or
unanimity. Several of participants mentioned external references
from wikipedia and dictionaries. And the conclusion was that
consensus is more close to unanimity.

Francisco Arias asked that if what we want is that LACNIC
policies to be approved by unanimity.

He also pointed out that although the other RIRs and the IETF RFC
use the term consensus, some of these organizations add
qualifiers that eliminate the meaning of unanimity, while others
define processes that, in turn, remit to the meaning of

Raúl Echeberria added that it is broadly accepted at the
organizations and fora mentioned above that consensus is not
unanimity. And that in order for consensus to exist the following
conditions must be satisfied:

- That a significant majority (60-70%) is in agreement.
- That there has been sufficient discussion for seeking consensus.
- That there remains no fundamental and founded opposition to the proposal.

However, thinking the matter over carefully, the third condition
could, in a way, grant veto power to someone who was not flexible
in his/her position.

This idea was supported by others participants.  One additional
comments from Oscar Robles regarding the need to have it
documented and explained in the PDP.

Jose Enrique Diaz Jolly also added the following definitions
about the concept of majority in taking decisions:

There are three main types of majority in decision making:

Simple majority, consisting of the largest subgroup but without
exceeding fifty percent of the members

Absolute majority, consisting of more than one half or fifty per cent
plus one of the members.

Qualified majority, consisting of more than fifty percent of the
members, usually two thirds or three fourths of the total group.

Compliance with this rule implies that minorities within the group
must respect the will of the majority.

He mentioned that the most important to consider that these decisions
are made for the common good and in benefit of the community.
He believes that the approach is correct, and that all that we need to
do is determine the adequate decision making process.

Sebastian Bellagamba agreed with definition taking into consideration
the dominant opinion once all positions have been taken into account
and no major objections remain. He also agreed with the proposal that
the Chair be responsible for establishing whether these criteria have
been met and, therefore, for determining consensus.
Although he agrees that it is desirable, unanimity is difficult to achieve

Christian O'Flaherty added that the word might have preclude de idea of seeking
the consensus among the total of participants. But that it is clear to
us how we would like decisions to be made (it is not only a question
of majority, but it is not unanimity either), but we can't seem to
find an appropriate term.

He then proposed to continue using the term "consensus" and add to the
PDP our interpretation of the term:

- That a significant majority is in agreement (I would not explicit any
specific percentage).

- That there has been sufficient discussion.

Jordi Palet added that even if having the co-chairs with final decision
about the consensus, it should be established some guidelines.
His suggestion was:

1)that a debate has taken place on the list, in case that a debate is necessary, or
2)that it is supported by an important number of participants without
relevant objections, and
3)that no technical objections are evident".

In case that a debate is necessary, because some proposals may not
generate any debate at all as they are obvious to everyone

That it is supported by an important number of participants, without
mentioning the term majority, provided that there is not an important
level of objection.

That there are no technical objections is an essential
requirement. Even in case of unanimity, it would not be prudent to
approve something that goes against technology.

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