A draft resolution sponsored by Argentina and Switzerland led to debate today
in the Working Group of the Plenary on how to enhance the participation of civil
society in the work of ITU. While several delegations underlined the positive
contribution made by civil society in the WSIS process and argued that the WSIS
outcomes could not be implemented without the support, experience and
involvement of civil society, others considered that existing mechanisms to take
part in ITU activities already enable civil society to be engaged in ITU work.
Many also stressed that the impact and benefits of opening up to civil society
had to be carefully assessed before a decision is made, particularly with
respect to the relationship with existing categories in the membership that pay
a contribution to the Union.
Several delegates endorsed the idea of enabling the active participation of
new stakeholders from civil society but observed that the current basic texts of
ITU did not offer any definition of civil society. The Philippines supported by
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia and several others suggested
that it was essential to first arrive at a commonly agreed definition of what
was meant by civil society, define the criteria and modalities for their
participation, look into the different ways in which members of the civil
society could participate in the work of ITU and how this could affect other
categories of members. Canada agreed, adding that civil society should also be
left to indicate how they want to be involved and in what areas. At the same
time, Canada stated that the private sector, which currently participate as
Sector Membesr in the work of ITU, should be consulted on the benefits they
derive from their participation and the costs they bear so that the inclusion of
civil society is made on a non-discriminatory basis. In response to delegates
who considered that existing mechanisms were sufficient to allow civil society
to be engaged in ITU work, Switzerland said that there was room for improvement,
particularly when comparing with other UN agencies and that it might be more
appropriate to establish a list of specific criteria of what is needed from
civil society rather than attempting to define it. There was no need to
"reinvent the wheel" — existing mechanisms used in UNESCO, UNDP and others that
included both the rights and obligations of civil society should serve as a
reference. "It is also important to send a strong signal to civil society
indicating that ITU does not want to forego decisions made at WSIS on building
an inclusive Information Society nor the multi-stakeholder approach", he said.
The Russian Federation reminded delegates that this debate had already taken
place in the Working Group of the Council on WSIS and that agreement had been
reached on a draft resolution calling for the setting up of a Working Group of
the Council to examine all the pertinent issues.
"Civil society is needed to give credibility to the efforts deployed by ITU
to close the digital divide", said the delegate from Morocco. Tunisia supported
this view, adding that ITU was handicapped by the fact that its statutes do not
visibly include civil society in its work. Tunisia went on to underline that:
"Not only should the ITU instruments be amended, but also that the proposed
working group to be set up to evaluate how to enhance the participation of civil
society in ITU's activities should be open to both Member States and Sector
Members". France and Senegal agreed but Syria, China and Iran (Islamic Rep. of )
felt that the working group should consist only of Member States.
To this end, an ad hoc group was set up, chaired by Argentina and
Switzerland, to define the terms of reference of the Working Group of the
Council on civil society and was asked to report back on Wednesday, 15 November.
The Working Group of the Plenary also discussed internet-related issues. The
US and the Arab Group, supported by Iran (Islamic Rep. of), presented proposals
that aim to reflect the outcome of WSIS in the existing Resolution 101 on
Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks. The discussions that followed showed
general support for these proposals. Consequently, the Chairman asked the US and
the Arab States to consolidate into a single document their proposals in order
to facilitate the work of the Committee.
Europe, the Arab States and Iran (Islamic Rep. of) introduced their proposals
concerning the amendment of Resolution 102 on the “Management of Internet domain
names and addresses”. The Arab States proposal calls for ITU to play an active
role in the Internet Governance Forum created at the request of WSIS, notably in
the dissemination of information to governments on the Forum’s work particularly
in the areas of the management of internet domain names and addresses. It also
requires that ITU take the initiative in proposing the role that governments
could play regarding internet policies, especially the management of domain
names and addresses. The proposal also requests the Council to ensure that ITU
Member States, especially the developing countries, are able to participate in
decision-making concerning policies related to internet management.
Europe proposed to update Resolution 102 in order to take into account the
technological evolution of the internet since 2002 and the outcomes of the two
phases of WSIS. It also proposed the integration of Resolution 133 on the role
of administrations of Member States in the management of internationalized
(multilingual) domain names into Resolution 102 in order to have a single
resolution dealing with internet resources as a whole. The European proposal
invites ITU to contribute to the work on internet governance and to the process
towards enhanced cooperation to be started by the UN Secretary-General as
requested by the Tunis Summit in 2005. It requests ITU to participate in the
development of globally applicable principles of public policy issues associated
with the coordination and management of critical internet resources. It also
seeks to improve the multi-stakeholder involvement in its own processes.
The US on the other hand expressed the wish to keep Resolution 102 unchanged
on the ground that it was sufficiently broad and relevant and to keep it
separate from Resolution 133, which should be updated to reflect the outcome of
WSIS. Australia would prefer no change or only minimal changes to Resolution
102, particularly as the IGF and the process of enhanced cooperation was only in
its infancy. For Saudi Arabia, a lot has happened since Tunis and internet is
one of the most important issues. ITU has dealt with internet issues for years
and should continue to do so in the future. The Saudi delegation therefore
expressed support for the European proposals.
After a protracted exchange on how to proceed, it was decided that Europe
would produce a document indicating which parts of its revised Resolution 102
comes from Resolution 133 and that a working group would be set up under the
chairmanship of Norway to prepare a report, along with a draft resolution by
Wednesday, 15 November.
Committee 6 began its deliberations with the item on Results-based Management
(RBM) based on a document presented by Bruce Gracie in his capacity as Chairman
of the Council Group on Financial Regulations. The document deals with the
annual review of income and expenditure and indicates that efforts are under way
to improve the financial stability and transparency of the budgetary process.
This has been linked to the need for annual as opposed to biennial budgets.
There remains a concern on the impact of income variations on the financial
stability of ITU. The following points have been noted by the Council:
ITU already provides the Council with details of
income and expenditure on a quarterly basis
One of the features of the new International
Public Sector Accounting Standards is the preparation of annual audited
Authority already exists for the Council not only
to review, but also to adjust figures associated with income and expenditure
on an annual basis
However, strengthening of the mechanism to adjust figures is required, he
Then, taking the floor on behalf of the Americas, Mr Gracie continued as the
delegate of Canada to present Document 15/34 on the implementation of RBM. He
said it was the next logical step after Results-based Budgeting (RBB), intended
"to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and the economy of the management and
administration of the Union". The delegate noted that considerable progress had
been made in this regard. He added that in the interest of improving management
throughout the UN system, the Joint Inspection Unit had issued a series of
reports on RBM in 2004. Three distinct processes were identified:
Planning, programming budgeting, monitoring and
Delegation of authority and accountability
Staff performance, management and contracts
The Inter-American proposal recommended that in order to progress on
implementing RBM, the draft resolution tabled by Canada ought to be adopted by
The United States suggested that the draft of the consolidated budget should
include results-based budgeting information. This would be vital in determining
the full cost of services and activities within the Union to assist in budget
preparation and management.
Indonesia responded by saying that if “the intention is just to mainstream
zero growth or even minus real growth then we are entering a dangerous
environment to the detriment of the Union’s objectives”. This would affect its
membership and, in particular, developing countries. "Results-based budget can
only be implemented harmoniously in a democratic and open-minded process," said
Indonesia proposed that the results-based budgeting mechanism should be
reviewed critically by PP 06. The impact of budget cuts on the effectiveness of
the Union’s activities should also be included. It should not focus primarily on
forcing the Strategic Plan to conform to the financial limitations. The delegate
made the distinction between "effective" and "efficient" results-based
Although the Inter-American proposal found some support (notably from Norway
and Switzerland), Indonesia continued to press the point that the discussion on
RBB was premature as other related issues had not been discussed. "At this
juncture, we do not see the horizon," the delegate remarked.
In the end, it was decided to send to Committee 5 the draft resolution with
amendments along with the Indonesian reservations.
Oversee or overmanage
Dealing with the New Council Oversight Group (NCOG), Mr Gracie considered it
important to analyse results of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) project and
to give guidance on whether to continue them. Mali recommended renewing the
mandate of NCOG while reviewing its composition and working methods. The
secretariat suggested that NCOG should deal more with substantive issues and
less with details, adding that the KPI project was extremely valuable.
The Russian Federation reminded delegates that the purpose was to strengthen
the Union and to avoid duplication of work. Saudi Arabia agreed and France added
that the purpose of NCOG must not be to micromanage but to focus on the
priorities of the Union between the Council meetings. The Committee agreed that
the draft resolution that had been tabled by the African group on the extension
of NCOG would be fine tuned on Tuesday morning.
Moving onto TELECOM issues, the Committee heard the European proposal calling
for a Global TELECOM event and for dispensing with the current practice of
distinguishing between Regional and World events. The rationale behind the
proposal, according to the European countries backing it, is that, in the
present economic context, the private sector may not be in a position to
participate in several events during the same year. Furthermore, and most
probably as a consequence of the previous element, ITU has been facing
difficulties in the past five years in organizing successful and financially
balanced exhibitions, even at a world level. Therefore, it should rather be
tasked to organize only one significant event on a regular basis which could
rotate. The African and Asia-Pacific delegates disagreed and proposed to
continue with both Regional and World events. Africa added that the World event
should also rotate, but that the two should not be held in the same year. The
Secretariat clarified that World and Regional TELECOM events are never held in
the same year.
The Arab proposal recommended that the exhibition and Forum should cover ICT
and that the rotation of the World TELECOM event should give monetary benefits.
The World event should be held every four years, the delegate added.
In response, the secretariat asked for direction from the Plenipotentiary
regarding the holding of global and regional events. The Executive Manager of
TELECOM explained that it was difficult to mix the demands of a commercial
entity with the strict rules governing ITU. He invited delegates to study the
issue. This was agreed by the Committee.
A small group was established to discuss the various proposals, along with
the ITU TELECOM Executive Manager.
Private sector contributions
On the issue of determining the contributory unit for Sector Members, the
Committee expectedly saw a heated debate which did not end in agreement. The
question was whether to raise the ratio paid by Sector Members from 1/5 to 1/4.
Under present membership levels and with the working figure of CHF 318 000, this
would decrease the deficit by CHF 21 million, reducing it to roughly CHF 12
million from the current shortfall of CHF 33 million.
The argument was made that the cost of supporting the participation of Sector
Members was as high as 40 per cent of their contribution and that this was
disproportionate, as most opted to contribute the minimum class of contribution.
This went against the spirit of contributions to the Union.
Argentina said that the free selection of class was no longer applicable. The
rights of Sector Members have increased, and yet the level of contribution was
much lower than in other organizations.
The Russian Federation suggested changing the existing scale in increments of
½, ¼, 1/8 and 1/16 class of unit.
Indonesia said that the proposal should not merely be used to cover shortages
for the next budgetary period. The private sector should play a greater role not
only in the activities of the Union, but also in shouldering some of the
responsibilities. He said that the option should not be restricted to increasing
the ratio to ¼; it could be increased further to 1/3, for instance. The delegate
suggested putting the increased ratio in square brackets.
Members voiced apprehension that increasing the ratio would alienate the
private sector and drive away Sector Members. The US and Japan emphatically
objected to raising the ratio. Canada said that the Union could lose revenue as
the private sector could exercise any of the following three options, should the
ratio be increased:
Denunciation, i.e. renunciation of membership
Opt to become an associate member
Participate as members of national delegations
Indonesia countered by saying that the government of that country had
discussed the issue with the private sector, and none had voiced any objection.
The delegate went on to say that voluntary contributions no longer meet needs,
and cited the difficulties the Union faced in finding funds to finance the WSIS
process. "The question is: do we want ITU to execute projects or not," he asked.
"If we want ITU to be responsible and assist developing countries, resources
have to be allocated."
Argentina agreed, saying that the increased ratio would benefit Member
States. The Chairman proposed to go along with the Indonesian proposal of
placing the increased ratio of ¼ of the unit (as in “Option 2” of the draft
Financial Plan) in square brackets before sending the text to Committee 5. New
Zealand, supported by the US said that the discussion of the ratio was premature
and should be taken up after the definitive contributory unit had been decided.
The Chairman then proposed postponing discussion on the matter until a later
The evolving role of the World Telecommunication
A number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region have submitted a proposal
that seeks to update Resolution 122 on "The evolving role of the World
Telecommunication Standardization Assembly" (WTSA). The proposal, among other
things, seeks to instruct the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)
"to take an active role in ensuring coordination between study groups, as
appropriate, on high-priority standardization issues that are being studied in
more than one study group."
The proposal also says that TSAG should take into account, and implement as
necessary, advice given to it by other groups on effective coordination on
high-priority standardization topics. The Asian countries backing the proposal
would like to see a reference to Resolution 22 of WTSA-04 included in Resolution
122. Such a reference, they say, would highlight that "TSAG is empowered to
ensure effective coordination of standardization topics in order to achieve
suitable global solutions". Another provision would be added to draw awareness
to the fact that the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) "aims
to continue to provide a unique, worldwide venue for industry and government to
work together to foster the development and use of open, interoperable and
non-discriminatory standards which are both demand-driven and sensitive to the
needs of users". Finally, another proposed addition would underline the fact
that the rapid pace of change in the telecommunication environment demands that,
in order to maintain its role, ITU-T should have the flexibility to make timely
decisions between WTSAs on matters such as work priorities, study group
structure and meeting schedules.
The Syrian Arab Republic also presented a proposal to amend Resolution 122. A
key element of that proposal would require that the Director of the
Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) be instructed to consider
organizing, on a regular basis, a worldwide standardization round table and
coordination meeting, possibly in association with a WTSA. This would be done in
consultation with relevant bodies and the ITU membership, and in coordination
with ITU-D and ITU-R where appropriate, according to the proposal. Such a round
table would be a one-day event immediately before WTSA, which would be invited
to take into consideration its conclusions.
Both APT countries and the Arab States were asked by the Chairman of
Committee 5 to discuss their proposals "offline" and merge them into a
consolidated document. In so doing, the Chairman said that they should not add
any new elements that were not originally in their proposals. The Republic of
Korea said it would consult other countries in the Asia-Pacific region backing
this proposal and report back.
Support for NEPAD
The proposed amendments to Resolution 124 on the "Support for the New
Partnership for Africa’s Development" (NEPAD), presented to Committee 5 last
week by a group of African countries (see Highlights N°4) were considered and
approved by Committee 5 today. Senegal had a similar proposal on NEPAD, and
accepted to go along with the proposal of the group of African countries. New
elements of the amended Resolution include mention of "the conclusions of the
Geneva and Tunis WSIS phases and the work under way to implement the African
Regional Action Plan for the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE). A reference has been
added to reflect the call made on 23 November 2004 by the Summit of the NEPAD
Heads of State and Government Implementing Committee (HSGIC) for an effective
implementation of the NEPAD ICT programme. Another new element is the request
made by the Abuja Declaration of African ministers in charge of
telecommunications and ICT on infrastructure development to provide appropriate
financial resources to support NEPAD ICT activities.
The United States proposed to include the following additional text to
reinforce the resolution: "that African ICT and telecommunication infrastructure
development requires regional and cross regional support of programmes and
initiatives". Kenya, on behalf of the African group, welcomed this proposal,
which was also endorsed by Committee 5 and will be included under "further
Infrastructure: With regard to infrastructure, the annex to Resolution 124,
entitled "Actions for NEPAD", has been amended to include preparation of master
plans for ICT infrastructure development and facilitation of the introduction of
digital technologies, especially for broadcasting. Also included in this annex
is the call to support all projects which promote ICT development and
subregional and regional integration. Other new elements focus on "the
establishment and interconnection of national internet exchange points" and on
evaluating "the impact and adoption of measures for strengthening functional
capacities and the new missions of subregional maintenance centres". The
establishment of technological alliances is also encouraged in order to promote
research and development at a regional level.
Environment: New elements in this area include the development and
implementation of an Africa-wide vision, strategy and action plan for ICT; a
national vision and strategies for the development of ICT with maximum linkage
to other national development strategies, notably the Poverty Reduction Strategy
Paper (PRSP); elaboration of a national policy framework and strategy for
universal access. There is also the call to provide support for the
harmonization of policy and regulatory frameworks at the subregional level and
capacity building, cooperation and partnerships.
Capacity building, cooperation and partnerships: The African
Telecommunications Union needs to be supported in terms of administrative
support and assistance in technical expertise and the elaboration of the
planning and management of the frequency spectrum at national, subregional and
regional levels. The annex calls for the strengthening of ICT training
institutions and the network of centres of excellence in the region. It also
calls for the establishment of a cooperation mechanism amongst regional
institutions that provide development assistance to African countries in the ICT
sector; the establishment of an ad hoc regional ICT think tank for Africa;
strengthening of subregional telecommunication regulatory associations;
strengthening of public-private partnership; the establishment of an African ICT
database; and strengthening the capacities of Regional Economic Communities (REC)
for better implementation of the ICT projects and initiatives.
Countries with economies in transition
A number of countries in the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of
Communications (RCC) presented a draft resolution last week that seeks to
reflect the interests of countries with economies in transition in ITU documents
(see Highlights No.4). The draft resolution from RCC calls for the provisions of
all ITU documents relating to developing countries to be "extended to apply
equally to countries with economies in transition". The Russian Federation, on
behalf of RCC countries, said that in several resolutions of the United Nations
General Assembly (UNGA), countries with economies in transition enjoyed equal
status to that of developing countries. In particular, he made reference to the
UNGA resolution on the "Integration of the economies in transition into the
world economy", as well as to the documents adopted in the two phases of the
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
RCC countries also reinforced their case with the decisions of the World
Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Florianopolis, Brazil in 2004) and
the World Telecommunication Development Conference (Doha, in March 2006). At
both these events, agreement was reached to the effect that provisions of
documents of ITU-T and ITU Telecommunication Development Sector relating to
developing countries would be extended "to apply also to countries with
economies in transition". The delegate from the Syrian Arab Republic said that
when examining a similar proposal at these two events it had been agreed that
there was no need for a resolution, but a footnote the first time the expression
"developing countries" appears in a text to explain that such a reference
included "countries with economies in transition" as well. The Russian
Federation agreed with the footnote approach.
However, Canada said it was still consulting with its Ministry of Foreign
Affairs because, while they supported the decisions of WTSA-04 and WTDC-06 they
could not simply lift text from conferences or assemblies that were not
treaty-making and apply them to a legally binding-treaty, such as the basic
instruments of ITU. A resolution would not work for Canada either, because that
country does not support the use of resolutions to interpret provisions of the
basic instruments. So the Chairman has asked both Canada and RCC to review the
matter together and present a way forward to Committee 5 in the course of the
week. He also suggested presenting the RCC proposal to Committee 6 in case it
had financial implications.
Future host country agreements
The commitments of a host country for an ITU event, as well as the technical
requirements for such an event are governed by a host country agreement and its
annexes. These are duly signed by the inviting government and ITU. Today, a
draft resolution was presented by Turkey that points to the need for host
country agreements for ITU conferences and assemblies to be made available in
advance of such events. This, according to the draft resolution tabled by
Turkey, would not only increase the transparency, but would also serve as a
measure for ITU to accept an invitation and for the governments to make a
decision on an invitation to hold a conference or assembly. It was also
necessary "for clarity of the technical requirements and timely implementation
of the preparations of such events."
One of the provisions of the draft resolution would require ITU to prepare
the template of host country agreements and the texts of respective annexes for
each of the conference and assembly of the Union at least two years before the
date of the opening of the assembly or conference. The Council would be required
to review and approve the texts of host country agreement and the respective
Annexes for each of the conferences and assemblies of the Union in advance of
the events. It would also have to decide on which provisions of the host country
agreement, the General Secretariat would be authorized to carry out negotiations
with the inviting governments. Norway expressed support for the Turkish proposal
saying that a template would provide efficiency to both parties.
Turkey proposes that the template for host country agreements and the text of
annexes would be declared at least two years before the date of the opening of
an assembly or a conference in order to facilitate the invitations of the Member
States in a foreseeable environment. Also, these agreements and the respective
annexes would be circulated to Member States in advance of the decision to be
taken for the venue of each conference and assembly of the Union.
The ITU secretariat explained that there was no template, but that there was
instead Council Resolution 83, which offered a flexible model. It has provisions
which specify the requirements. Perhaps that resolution could be reconsidered in
terms of lessons learned. The Chairman said he would exchange views with Turkey,
but the proposal is on the table.
Stoppage of telecommunications
Georgia had proposed amending Article 34 of the Convention to include new
wording, as well as a new provision. "Each Member State must take measures for
the immediate interruption of telecommunication services, for the operational
organizations recognized by the State which have organized illegal connection
and may appear dangerous to the security of another State or contrary to its
laws, to public order or to its decency." Georgia’s proposal argues that "in
order to avoid the danger at the territorial borders of Member States, each
State's telecommunication operator must not perform connection by crossing
another country's territory illegally." The United States had proposed that
there be no change to Article 34. Georgia’s proposal was put to the floor, but
received no support. The Chairman concluded that it could not therefore be taken
Advisory groups: in abeyance
The US and the European countries are to continue consultations to try to
find a way forward on whether or not all Advisory Groups of ITU’s three Sectors
should report through Directors of Bureaux or not. At present only the
Radiocommunication Adivsory Group reports through the Director or the
Radiocommunication Bureau. Reporting on the informal consultations with Europe,
the US delegate said they needed more time, but that they maintained their
position (see Highlights N° 5). The Syrian Arab Republic expressed support for
the US position. If others wanted to join, it was a big table open for all to
join. The Netherlands said they disagreed with the US proposal and would take
their comments to the ad hoc group chaired by the US.
World Information Society Day
A brief discussion took place on the proposal from Senegal to amend
Resolution 68 on World Telecommunication Day to become World Telecommunication
and Information Society Day. The discussion was postponed pending a legal
opinion as to whether ITU could adopt a resolution on World Information Society
Day Germany and France argued that it was not clear to them whether ITU could
adopt a Resolution on the World Information Society Day when it had already been
proclaimed by the UN General Assembly.
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