I'll start by quoting the NCDNCH (or NCC) Charter:
Agenda of the NCDNHC
Types of organizations in the NCDNHC
Research groups (not full institutional representation)
Peace, human-rights, development oriented NGOs
Organizations with concerns relative to developing countries specifically
And others, of course
What troubles do they have with domain names?
The shortest answer is "none". They mostly get the domain names they want or need, they can use the UDRP against cybersquatters, and they can pay their domain names. A few are perceived as under threat if some " biggie" tries to take their domain name from them, but in fact are better served by the UDRP than otherwise in their defense.
Why should they worry then?
Universities are here, and more generally in the constituency structure of the DNSO, as a reminder of the benefits of the academic origins of much of the Internet. They should be able to perform and contribute research related to domain names and related matters, and to remind everybody else that the Internet has to continue to be more than a means for business.
Activist groups have brought in an advocacy dimension. Not only are they here to remind everybody else of the non-business dimension of the Internet, they also have set an agenda of free speech in domain names and a "defense of the ‘little guy’". The concept of "little guy" varies a lot among NCDNHC members.
Members of the NCDNHC, and the Constituency itself, perceive themselves as moral watchdogs for the development of domain name issues which fall within the purview of ICANN.
What are the main agenda issues active at present?
The NCC should make sure the review includes its opinion of the constituency structure, the operation of the NC, and the real impact of the DNSO. If it is perceived that the NCC should further be split into the academic and the militant organizations, this may be the right opportunity to propose the study for it.
The efficacy of the DNSO itself may find itself questioned, and the NCC should be able to point to an objective, ex post facto assessment of its own impact in the action of the NC and of the ICANN Board.
Different complaints about the UDRP have been aired, many of them inconclusively. The NCC should be subject to a period of intensive information exchange about what the UDRP actually is and how it is working, in order to form its own opinion.
After that period, the NCC should get engaged in a discussion about the UDRP, state clearly how it helps and how it damages non-commercial organizations, and come to closure on points like the avoidance of forum shopping and other possible improvements of the UDRP. In particular, two forward-looking matters could be the new WIPO process and the DRPs of the new gTLDs.
At-Large election review
The NCC must participate actively in the review of the at-large election. Beyond facile slogans like "stomp boardsquatters", the NCC must face honestly how to clear up the issues of capture of the election and how to avoid it in the future, both by large corporations and by volunteer organizations.
Further, since the study is open-ended, the NCC should develop a position about the constitution of the At Large membership, the best way to run its elections, etc.
As a very practical point, the NCC should evaluate the merits of a number of possible members of the committee that will conduct the study of the At Large election and make a good selection to propose with a reasoned backing.
Now that seven new gTLDs have been selected for negotiations and the consequently possible start of operations, the NCC should channel some energy into the study of the proposals which were accepted, and develop positions about their most meritorious or problematic aspects. Once such positions have been adequately developed and voted upon, they should be made known to relevant recipients.
Charter of the NCC
The Charter of the NCC is seriously incomplete, in that it does not prescribe a procedure for decision making. The NCC has given itself a procedure for some of its resolutions, but this procedure has not been incorporated into the constituency charter, nor can it since it still does not cover the full spectrum of procedures. The Charter Revision Committee (or Charter Committee for short) should make a call for a revision to include decision-making procedures and for additional volunteers, and within a reasonably brief schedule produce proposals for discussion and voting.
Another serious need is for the Charter to define a renewal of membership in yearly periods. The situation in which it is not known whether an organization is still active in the NCC, its representative is still legitimate, etc., damages the constituency gravely. At least one instance is that an organization that boasts having over 170 members is delegitimized by publishing resolutions for which the total votes add up to less than a third of the total membership. Associated with this definition will be a practicable one of quorum.
A forward-looking agenda
The NCC must establish its own agenda, which must be reasonable, amenable to consensus, and forward-looking instead of reactive. Some discussions are needed:
Free speech issues. The level of mutual relevance of domain names and free speech has to be discussed, and both consensus and the most significant points of dissent have to be explicitly identified. Doing this has always been important in the NCC; it is particularly more so now that we have a resolution asking for the creation of TLDs which support free speech; the specifics of this need be defined.
Non-commercial vs. commercial approaches to the Internet, relevant to domain names. The NCC has to develop an explicit, shared framework of positions and analysis of what are the main differences in the use of domain names for commercial and non-commercial entities. Among other benefits, a clear charter will provide a way for people to know what to expect from the NCC, whether they are dealing with it as adversaries or in recruiting new member organizations.
The collision between idealized Cyberspace and the realities of the rest of the world. Here the NCC has to deal with intellectual property (in general, but more particularly as it affects domain names), the law, commercial practices in different international frameworks, the availability and use of domain names for academic, advocacy, and other non-commercial uses, and establish just how critically challenged some of these are for non-commercial users. Issues related to developing countries and economies should also be attended to.
Relations with other constituencies and organizations. The NCC should not perceive itself in a pocket of isolation. Many themes that concern the constituency are also important to other constituencies, and to other organizations. These relations should be made explicit and put to good use in favor of the NCC.
Names Council representation. The NCC must establish clear rules for communicating with the NC through its representatives, bidirectionally.
Emerging areas of interest. As time goes by, the issues of principal interest vary, and the NCC must have a mechanism to decide how to get involved in them (if at all). At present, such issues as multilingual domain names come to mind.