Skip to main content

Considerations for Cancellation of IETF Meetings
RFC 9137 part of BCP 226

Document Type RFC - Best Current Practice (October 2021)
Author Martin Duke
Last updated 2021-10-12
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
IESG Responsible AD Lars Eggert
Send notices to (None)
RFC 9137

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                           M. Duke
Request for Comments: 9137                             F5 Networks, Inc.
BCP: 226                                                    October 2021
Category: Best Current Practice                                         
ISSN: 2070-1721

            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

Copyright Notice

   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
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction
   2.  Conventions
   3.  Decision Criteria and Roles
     3.1.  IETF LLC
     3.2.  The IESG and the Chair of the IRTF
   4.  Remedies
     4.1.  Relocation
     4.2.  Virtualization
     4.3.  Postponement
     4.4.  Cancellation
   5.  Refunds
   6.  Security Considerations
   7.  IANA Considerations
   8.  Normative References
   Author's Address

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 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.

2.  Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "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

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
   emergency situations.

   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
      new developments.

   *  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 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 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?

4.  Remedies

   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

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 IETF LLC SHOULD meet the criteria in [RFC8718] and

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

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 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.

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 are appropriate:

   *  Cancellation SHOULD result in a full refund to all participants.
      It MAY be prorated if some portion of the sessions completed
      without incident.

   *  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
      risk assessments.

   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

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <>.

   [RFC8718]  Lear, E., Ed., "IETF Plenary Meeting Venue Selection
              Process", BCP 226, RFC 8718, DOI 10.17487/RFC8718,
              February 2020, <>.

   [RFC8719]  Krishnan, S., "High-Level Guidance for the Meeting Policy
              of the IETF", BCP 226, RFC 8719, DOI 10.17487/RFC8719,
              February 2020, <>.


   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.

Author's Address

   Martin Duke
   F5 Networks, Inc.