RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens, French for “European IP Networks”) is an open forum for parties wishing to connect on and discuss the broad topic of Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It is related to the RIPE NCC the main regional Internet registry for Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia. RIPE’s goal is to guarantee the coordination, both administrative and technological, necessary to facilitate the proper operation of the Internet.
In contrast to similar organizations such as IETL and ICANN, RIPE doesn’t have standardization functions, nor does it deal with the distribution of domain names.
Another thing about RIPE is that the organization is informal. It doesn’t have a centralized governing body or a membership structure. Anyone interested in the organization’s mission can take part in its informal meetings and sign up for its mailing list. Participation is entirely voluntary and all decisions reached in meetings and through other means depend wholly on the consensus of the parties participating in the discussions. Any procedure, proposal, and policy ratified by the RIPE community is published online on the RIPE Document Store with open access.
Working groups are formed for each topic RIPE deals with at the moment. Typically, the members of these working groups are kept in the loop about the progress of the discussions and pending meetings through mailing lists they can sign up for upon entering the particular group. The most common topics covered by RIPE working groups include the management and distribution of Internet resources like IP addresses such as 192.168.1.1 and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs). Suggestions for new policies can come from any member of the working group, and the discussions are open to anyone willing to participate.
Depending on the topics and problems that need to be tackled, the RIPE working groups can meet once or twice a year during the so-called RIPE Meetings. The meetings are five-day events in which all interested parties are welcome to discuss the topic at hand.
RIPE NCC’s headquarters are located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The organization also has a branch office in Dubai, UAE.
RIPE is a non-profit organization, and its current members’ pool exceeds 10 000 people who live in 76 countries throughout the service regions.
The origins of RIPE trace back to the original RIPE meeting, which was held in Amsterdam on 22 May 1989. 14 representatives from 11 networks and 6 countries took part in the event. Most of the organizations were scientific bodies whose representatives emphasized the need of facilitating communication between scientists from institutions across Europe and the United States. The organizations that took part in the RIPE Coordinating Committee, which pushed for an IP-provided Internet standard, which at the time wasn’t offered by the European telecommunication companies, included BelWue, CERN, EASInet, EUnet, GARR, HEPnet, NORDUnet, SURFnet, SWITCH, and XLINK.
The RIPE Community is the backbone of the organization. To be a member of this community, one doesn’t need to be an official member of RIPE NCC. The only requisite is a demonstrable interest in the way the Internet functions, is being managed and governed.