ICANN has lost an important case in its Independent Review Panel (IRP) process in the .Africa new domain case and its implications for other new domains are huge.
ICANN lost mainly for its unfair treatment to new generic top-level domain applicants and for providing undue deference to advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which does not have transparency, accountability, or other key operational characteristics that are required by ICANN’s bylaws. This decision is also important because of the number of other TLD applicants who were also treated unfairly due to the board’s improper deference to GAC advice regarding their applications.
The IRP process is one of the only ways of attempting to hold ICANN accountable, although it is too costly of a process for the vast majority of people to be accessible and it is still up the ICANN board to agree with the IRP decision and to act accordingly.
The unanimous decision from an esteemed three-judge panel in the .Africa IRP is here (albeit redacted).