Are we going to have this year a new edition of the WCIT, the World Conference on International Communications held in late 2012 in Dubai?
The question comes to mind because the Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU (PP 14) will be held in Busan (Korea) from October 20 to November 7 this year. This Conference is the highest body of the ITU and sets the strategy and financial plan of the Union for the period of four years until the next Conference. It also has ability to change the Constitution and Convention of the Union, so therefore it can change or reorient the role of the ITU on issues related to Internet governance. Do not forget that the ITU is the United Nations agency specialized in Telecommunications. It is composed of 192 Member States and its Constitution has an International Treaty character.
Can PP14 address issues related to Internet governance and WCIT?
Undoubtedly, the periodicity of the WCIT itself dispels any last doubt on this regard: a WCIT Resolution provided that the WCIT periodicity could be considered by the Plenipot Conference: “… Resolves to invite the 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference to consider this Resolution and to take necessary action, as appropriate, to convene periodically (for example every eight years) a world conference on international telecommunications to revise the ITRs, taking into account the financial implications for the Union”
However, there are opinions for all tastes. Although countries can submit proposals individually, regional organizations recognized by the ITU to contribute with inputs are still debating their respective proposals to be submitted to the PP as Common Positions of each region: Africa, Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Arab countries and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (ex-Soviet countries). These organizations, it seems, at first, that do not want to present radical proposals that resurrect WCIT discussions. However Russia has already announced proposals for ITU to take a more active role on Internet Governance. In addition, it is likely that Russia will extend this proposal to its region and some countries, such as BRICS members, in order to obtain more support.
Among the topics set in the agenda of the Conference we note:
- Related Internet-related matters
- ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources.
- Role of administrations of Member States in the management of internationalized (multilingual) domain names.
- ITU’s role in organizing the work on technical aspects of telecommunication networks to support the Internet.
- Facilitating the transition from IPv4 to IPv6
- Related Security and confidence in the use of ICTs:
- Strengthening the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of ICTs.
- ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues Relating to the risk of illicit use of ICTs.
- ITU’s role in child online protection.
- Definitions and terminology realated to building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies.
- Related Regulatory issues:
- Special Measures Concerning alternative calling procedures on international telecommunication networks.
- Apportionment of revenues in providing international telecommunication services.
- Use of spectrum at frequencies above 3000 GHz.
- Conformance and interoperability (Res 177).
By the usual dynamics of these conferences, it seems unlikely, at least for now, that there will be approved substantial changes to the Constitution or the Convention. However, Resolutions may succeed to reorient contentious issues and to serve to the authorities of some countries as a reference in their public policies on Internet.
In future posts we will be analyzing the evolution of the preparations for the PP14 and the development of the Conference itself.