We have followed with great interest the letters to Trends in Microbiology from Gribaldo and Brochier-Armanet  and Garrity and Oren  concerning the need to improve the framework for prokaryotic systematics, notably with respect to the rules of nomenclature at the domain and phylum levels, because these currently lack formal standing in the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) . We agree that this debate is necessary and urgent, noting that this issue has been considered at meetings of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), the body that provides governance over the interpretation and implementation of the ICNP. It is therefore of considerable concern that we note the closing comments of Garrity and Oren  that ‘in spite of the good intentions [of the ICSP], little progress was made: the ad hoc committee appointed in 2005 never met, and the funding for the workshop discussed in 2008 was not secured’. This statement is symptomatic of larger structural deficiencies within the ICSP as historically constituted. We therefore encourage the ICSP to continue to address this subject, in the process revitalising itself so as to be able to more quickly address concerns such as these, and offer some suggestions as to how this might be achieved.