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European Workshop on Dispute Resolution

European Workshop on Dispute Resolution

31 August - 2 September 2004 
Geneva, Switzerland

ITU Montbrillant Building, Room K

The European Workshop on Dispute Resolution, organized by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was attended by more than 50 participants from 22 European countries. The meeting was opened by Hamadoun I. Touré, BDT Director, who noted that the success of regulatory reform, hinges on the enforcement of effective regulatory frameworks and that enforcement, in turn, requires dispute settlement. He added that dispute settlement can play an important role in national efforts to narrow the gap between the information haves and the information have nots. He underscored that having a clear, transparent, and effective regulatory regime in place is critical. He further indicated that the presence of representatives form Côte d'Ivoire and India reinforces the importance of dispute resolution in the ICT sector not only in Europe, but around the world.

Mr. Ömer Faruk KOÇAK, Head, International Relations and EU Coordination Department, Telecommunications Authority of Turkey was appointed chairperson of the meeting. Mr. KOÇAK, in his opening remarks also noted that resolution of disputes in the telecommunications sector is a very important issue due to the impact it has on investment, proper functioning of infrastructures, provision of services and the overall economy, thus affecting the quality of life. He further indicated that dispute resolution is a kind of art that has to be performed in a timely manner. Performers of this art vary from regulators to mediators and from government agencies to international bodies using different methods, techniques and legal instruments. From the regulator's perspective, effective mechanisms for dispute resolution are a key factor for effective competition in the markets.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together policy makers, national regulatory authorities and ITU-D sector members from Central, Eastern and Western Europe, the Baltic States and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region to build capacity in the area of dispute resolution in a competitive telecommunication and ICT environment through the exchange of experiences among the major stakeholders. An interactive role play exercise was conducted. The purpose of this exercise was to understand all the various aspects, implications and outcome of a dispute from the perspectives of the various stakeholders, and to identify best practices for dispute resolution specifically focusing on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques.

During these three days, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms and procedures, such as mediation/conciliation, arbitration and expert determination were discussed. ADR mechanisms are being considered, developed and used by regulators in countries such as Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and promoted by market players, such as British Telecom, to provide timely and cost effective solutions to disputes. It was clearly noted that these alternatives do not preclude or minimize the role of conventional approaches, such as regulatory adjudication, to handling disputes.

Specialized national, regional and international bodies including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Arbitration, Mediation and Expertise services, the United Kingdom Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Center, and the WTO presented the various services and options they offer to assist stakeholders in resolving disputes both in using alternative and more conventional methods.

The BDT Director concluded the meeting by indicating how pleased he was to hear from one of the largest global operators, that an effective regulatory regime is key to attracting investment and that dispute resolution procedures and practices have a large role to play in measuring the effectiveness of the regime.


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