Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) M. Duke
Request for Comments: 9137
F5 Networks, Inc.
Category: Best Current Practice
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 events can
make a planned in-person meeting infeasible. This document provides
criteria to aid the IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC), the Internet
Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and the Chair of the Internet
Research Task Force (IRTF) in deciding to relocate, virtualize,
postpone, or cancel an in-person IETF meeting.
Status of This Memo
This memo documents an Internet Best Current Practice.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on
BCPs is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc9137
Copyright (c) 2021 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
) in effect on the date of
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described in the Simplified BSD License.
Table of Contents 1.
Decision Criteria and Roles 3.1.
IETF LLC 3.2.
The IESG and the Chair of the IRTF 4.
Security Considerations 7.
IANA Considerations 8.
Among the highlights of the IETF calendar are in-person general
meetings, which happen three times a year at various locations around
Various major events may affect the suitability of a scheduled in-
person IETF meeting, though this may not be immediately obvious for
some events. Examples of such events include the following:
* A meeting venue itself may unexpectedly close or otherwise be
unable to meet IETF meeting requirements due to a health issue,
legal violation, or other localized problem.
* A natural disaster could degrade the travel and meeting
infrastructure in a planned location and make it unethical to
further burden that infrastructure with a meeting.
* War, civil unrest, or a public health crisis could make a meeting
unsafe and/or result in widespread national or corporate travel
* An economic crisis could sharply reduce resources available for
travel, resulting in lower expected attendance.
* Changes in visa policies or other unexpected governmental
restrictions might make the venue inaccessible to numerous
This document provides criteria to aid the IETF Administration LLC
(IETF LLC), the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and the
Chair of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) in deciding to
relocate, virtualize, postpone, or cancel an in-person IETF meeting.
The key words "MUST
", "MUST NOT
", "SHALL NOT
", "SHOULD NOT
", "NOT RECOMMENDED
" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
BCP 14 [RFC2119
] 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
3. Decision Criteria and Roles
The IETF 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
IESG and the Chair of the IRTF assess if the projected attendance is
sufficient for a viable in-person meeting.
3.1. IETF LLC
The IETF 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
In non-emergency situations, if the IETF 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 IETF LLC SHOULD
conduct a formal reassessment process that includes:
* Consulting with the community on the timetable of the decision
* Consulting with the community on criteria to assess the impact of
* Publishing an assessment report and recommended remedy.
* Seeking approval of the IESG and the Chair of the IRTF for the
In emergency situations, which lack the time for a consultation
process, this document provides criteria that have IETF consensus and
that the IETF LLC MUST
apply in its assessment.
The IETF 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 the Chair
of the IRTF.
These criteria, some of which are derived from Section 3
], 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
Finally, the IETF LLC MUST
assess the impact on its own operations,
* 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 IETF 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
IETF 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 the Chair of the IRTF. The IESG should pursue a later
update of this document.
3.2. The IESG and the Chair of the IRTF
If the IETF LLC assesses there are no fundamental logistical or
financial obstacles to holding a meeting in an emergency situation,
the IESG and the Chair of the IRTF assess if projected attendance is
high enough to achieve the benefit of an in-person meeting. The IESG
and the Chair of the IRTF SHOULD
cancel the in-person meeting if that
benefit is insufficient.
The IESG and the Chair of the IRTF 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 IETF LLC's estimate, the IESG and the Chair of the
IRTF 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?
If a meeting cannot be held at the scheduled time and place, the IETF
LLC, IESG, and Chair of the IRTF have several options. The remedies
in this section should be considered in light of four principles
(presented in no particular order):
* Hold the scheduled sessions of a meeting in some format.
* Provide benefits of in-person interactions when possible.
* Avoid exorbitant additional travel expenses due to last-minute
flight changes, etc.
* Ensure sufficient time and resources to adequately prepare an
The following remedies are listed in approximate declining order of
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 IETF LLC SHOULD
meet the criteria in [RFC8718
Relocation that requires new air travel arrangements for attendees SHOULD NOT
occur less than one month prior to the start of the
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.
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.
The IETF LLC, IESG, and Chair of the IRTF 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.
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 are appropriate:
* Cancellation SHOULD
result in a full refund to all participants.
be prorated if some portion of the sessions completed
* Upon postponement, the IETF LLC SHOULD
offer refunds to registered
attendees who claim they cannot attend at the newly scheduled
time. Attendees can opt out of receiving a refund.
* When a meeting is virtualized, the IETF LLC MUST
offer to refund
registered attendees the difference between their paid
registration fee and the equivalent fee for an online meeting.
The IETF LLC SHOULD
offer refunds to registered attendees who do
not wish to attend an online meeting.
* The IETF LLC SHOULD
offer refunds to attendees whose government
forbids, or has issued a safety advisory against, visits to the
host venue, even if the in-person meeting will continue. It SHOULD NOT
refund cancellations due to employer policy or personal
These provisions intend to maintain trust between the IETF and its
participants. However, under extraordinary threats to the solvency
of the organization, the IETF LLC may suspend them.
6. Security Considerations
This document introduces no new concerns for the security of Internet
7. IANA Considerations
This document has no IANA actions.
8. Normative References
] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119
, March 1997,
] Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119
Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174
May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174
] Lear, E., Ed., "IETF Plenary Meeting Venue Selection
Process", BCP 226, RFC 8718
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8718
February 2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8718
] Krishnan, S., "High-Level Guidance for the Meeting Policy
of the IETF", BCP 226, RFC 8719
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8719
February 2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8719
Jay Daley provided extensive input to make this document more usable
by the IETF LLC. Many members of the IESG and the SHMOO Working
Group also provided useful comments.
F5 Networks, Inc.