Internet-Draft Canceling Meetings August 2021
Duke Expires 10 February 2022 [Page]
Intended Status:
Best Current Practice
M. Duke
F5 Networks, Inc.

Considerations for Cancellation of IETF Meetings


The IETF ordinarily holds three in-person meetings per year to discuss issues and advance the Internet. However, various emergencies can make a planned in-person meeting infeasible. This document provides criteria to aid the IETF Administration LLC (LLC), Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Chair in deciding to postpone, move, or cancel an in-person IETF meeting.

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 10 February 2022.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Among the highlights of the IETF calendar are in-person general meetings, which happen three times a year at various locations around the world.

Various major events may affect the suitability of a scheduled in-person IETF meeting, though for some events this may not be immediately obvious. For example:

This document provides criteria to aid the IETF Administration LLC (LLC), Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Chair in deciding to postpone, move, or cancel an in-person IETF meeting.

2. Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

In this document, the term "venue" refers to both the facility that houses the sessions and the official meeting hotel(s), as defined in [RFC8718].

3. Decision Criteria and Roles

The LLC assesses whether an in-person meeting is logistically and financially viable in light of events, and assembles information about various travel restrictions that might impact attendance. The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Chair assess if the projected attendance is sufficient for a viable in-person meeting.


The LLC is responsible for assessing the suitability of a venue for an IETF meeting and is responsible for any reassessment in response to a major event that leaves the prior conclusion in doubt. If such an event occurs more than fourteen weeks before the start of the scheduled meeting, it is deemed a non-emergency situation. Later events, up to and including the week of a meeting itself, are deemed an emergency situation.

In non-emergency situations, if the LLC determines the scheduled meeting clearly cannot proceed (e.g., the venue has permanently closed), then it MUST share the reason(s) with the community and MUST consult on its proposed remedy. In less clear cases, the LLC SHOULD conduct a formal reassessment process that includes:

  • Consulting with the community on the timetable of the decision process.
  • Consulting with the community on criteria to assess the impact of new developments.
  • Publishing an assessment report and recommended remedy.
  • Seeking approval of the IESG and IRTF Chair for the recommendation.

In emergency situations, which lack the time for a consultation process, this document provides criteria that have IETF consensus and which the LLC MUST apply in its assessment.

The LLC will collect information about the likely impact to in-person attendance of national travel advisories, national and corporate travel bans, availability of transportation, quarantine requirements, etc. and report the results to the IESG and IRTF Chair.

These criteria, some of which are derived from Section 3 of [RFC8718], apply to venues that are re-evaluated due to an emergency:

  • Local safety guidelines allow the venue and hotels to host a meeting with the expected number of participants and staff.
  • It is possible to provision Internet access to the venue that allows those attending in person to utilize the Internet for all their IETF, business, and day-to-day needs; in addition, there must be sufficient bandwidth and access for remote attendees. Provisions include, but are not limited to, native and unmodified IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity, and global reachability; there may be no additional limitation that would materially impact their Internet use. To ensure availability, it MUST be possible to provision redundant paths to the Internet.
  • A reasonable number of food and drink establishments are open and available within walking distance to provide for the expected number of participants and staff.
  • Local health and public safety infrastructure expects to have adequate capacity to support an influx of visitors during the meeting week.

Finally, the LLC MUST assess the impact on its own operations, including:

  • The number of critical support staff, contractors, and volunteers who can be at the venue.
  • The financial impact of continuing a meeting, or implementing any of the possible remedies.

The LLC SHOULD cancel an in-person meeting and explore potential remedies if it judges a meeting to be logistically impossible or inconsistent with its fiduciary responsibilities.

In the event of considerations this document does not foresee, the LLC should protect the health and safety of attendees and staff, as well as the fiscal health of the organization, with approval from the IESG and IRTF Chair. The IESG should pursue a later update of this document.

3.2. IESG and IRTF Chair

If the LLC assesses there are no fundamental logistical or financial obstacles to holding a meeting in an emergency situation, the IESG and IRTF Chair assess if projected attendance is high enough to achieve the benefit of an in-person meeting. The IESG and IRTF Chair SHOULD cancel the in-person meeting if that benefit is insufficient.

The IESG and IRTF Chair are discouraged from relying on a simple head count of expected meeting attendance. Even dramatically smaller meetings with large remote participation may be successful. In addition to the LLC's estimate, the IESG and IRTF Chair might consider:

  • Are many working groups and research groups largely unaffected by the restrictions, so that they can operate effectively?
  • Is there a critical mass of key personnel at most working group meetings to leverage the advantages of in-person meetings, even if many participants are remote?

4. Remedies

If a meeting cannot be held at the scheduled time and place, the LLC, IESG, and IRTF Chair have several options. The remedies in this section should be considered in light of four principles, presented in no particular order:

The following remedies are listed in approximate declining order of preference.

4.1. Relocation

For attendees, the least disruptive response is to retain the meeting week but move it to a more accessible venue. To the maximum extent possible, this will be geographically close to the original venue. In particular, the LLC SHOULD meet the criteria in [RFC8718] and [RFC8719].

Relocation that requires new air travel arrangements for attendees SHOULD NOT occur less than one month prior to the start of the meeting.

4.2. Virtualization

The second option, and one that has fewer issues with venue availability, is to make a meeting fully online. This requires different IETF processes and logistical operations that are outside the scope of this document.

4.3. Postponement

Although it is more disruptive to the schedules of participants, the next best option is to delay a meeting until a specific date, at the same venue, at which conditions are expected to improve. The new end date of a meeting must be at least 30 days before the beginning of the following IETF meeting, and a meeting MUST begin no earlier than 30 days after the postponement announcement.

Due to scheduling constraints at the venue, this will usually not be feasible. However, it is more likely to allow attendees to recover at least some of their travel expenses than other options.

Note that it is possible to both postpone and relocate a meeting, though this has the disadvantages of both.

4.4. Cancellation

The LLC, IESG, and IRTF Chair may cancel a meeting entirely in the event that worldwide conditions make it difficult for attendees to even attend online. Not holding a meeting at all can have wide implications, such as effects on the nomination process and seating of new officers.

Cancellation is likely the only practical alternative when emergencies occur immediately before or during a meeting, so that there is no opportunity to make other arrangements.

5. Refunds

The IETF SHOULD NOT reimburse registered attendees for unrecoverable travel expenses (airfare, hotel deposits, etc).

However, there are several cases where full or partial refund of registration fees is appropriate:

These provisions intend to maintain trust between the IETF and its participants. However, under extraordinary threats to the solvency of the organization, the LLC may suspend them.

6. Security Considerations

This document introduces no new concerns for the security of Internet protocols.

7. IANA Considerations

There are no IANA requirements.

8. Normative References

Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.
Lear, E., Ed., "IETF Plenary Meeting Venue Selection Process", BCP 226, RFC 8718, DOI 10.17487/RFC8718, , <>.
Krishnan, S., "High-Level Guidance for the Meeting Policy of the IETF", BCP 226, RFC 8719, DOI 10.17487/RFC8719, , <>.

Appendix A. Acknowledgments

Jay Daley provided extensive input to make this document more usable by the LLC. Many members of the IESG and the SHMOO working group also provided useful comments.

Appendix B. Change Log

B.1. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-05

  • Minor changes from IETF review

B.2. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-04

  • Threshold for "emergency" changes to 14 weeks
  • Clarified refund policy
  • IETF Last Call nits

B.3. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-03

  • Clarifications from AD review

B.4. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-02

  • Added IRTF to IESG responsibilities
  • WGLC Nits

B.5. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-01

  • Added refund principles for hybrid meetings

B.6. Since draft-ietf-shmoo-cancel-meetings-00

  • Jay Daley's nits
  • Distinguish the emergency and non-emergency process
  • Eliminated USSTATE/UKFO references
  • Clarified roles of LLC and IESG

B.8. Since draft-duke-shmoo-cancel-meetings-00

  • Added mention of IRTF
  • Discussed consensus on cancellation

B.9. Since draft-duke-remote-meetings-00

  • Defined "venue"
  • Added principles for selecting remedies and rewrote alternatives.
  • Added local authority travel advisories
  • Added some criteria from IETF 109

Author's Address

Martin Duke
F5 Networks, Inc.