Plenipotentiary Conference 1998 -- Minneapolis USA

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Briefing Notes 17 of 3 November
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Swearing-in Ceremony

The five elected officials of the new team were sworn in during a special ceremony this morning. The new team will take up duties 1 February 1999. Photographs are available to the media on request.

Management of Internet Domain Names and Addresses
(See Briefing Notes N° 15)

The unresolved matter of Committee 5 was fairly easily resolved in Plenary through an editorial amendment. The contested text, "currently private-sector led" management of Internet Domain Names and Addresses, was modified to "the management of Internet Domain Names and Addresses which is being led by the private sector". Following clarification that the word "being" meant "currently", the change was agreed and the Resolution approved.

Internet Protocol IP-based networks
(See Briefing Notes N° 15)

A long discussion took place in the Plenary on a text that had been long debated in Committee 5. The problem raised concerned the fact that the report which the Secretary-General was instructed to prepare for the Council was to take into account input from the ITU Secretariat along with those of Members. The idea of adding the Secretariat was based on the fact that the Secretariat was conducting work on IP networking and that the report was to be a comprehensive summary of the activities undertaken by the ITU. Delegations opposing that wording felt the input should come only from Members. Finally, it was agreed that the current language could be maintained, since it only implied a contribution to a report prepared by the Secretary-General and not a proposal to a Conference. The Resolution was thus approved.

First Measures to Give Greater Rights in the ITU for Industry Members Adopted


The Conference today approved Article 3 of the Constitution which gives industry members the right to participate fully in all activities of the Sector of which they are members. The only restriction, which still applies, concerns treaty-making related activities. Among additional rights are the possibility to fill the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship positions on the Sector’s assemblies and meetings including Study Groups.

A new category was also introduced to enable small entities to take part in selected Sector activities. In the context of the work of ITU-2000, several approaches had been considered, such as admitting an entity as a Sector Member for a limited number of study groups; but this approach raised the difficulty about their involvement in the adoption of questions and recommendations. The best approach considered at the Plenipotentiary Conference was to create an "Associate" status, thus increasing participation of small entities for which full membership would not be warranted. Today, the Conference adopted inclusion of a provision in the Convention making official the status of Associate. Associates will be invited to participate in the work of a given study group or any of its subgroups where their expertise or contribution on specific matters will be of benefit to the study group. They will, however, not be entitled to take part in the decision-making of that group.

Right of Industry Members to Approve with Member States, Questions (Work Programme) and Recommendations (or standards) Confirmed

The Conference adopted in first reading the provision giving industry members the right to approve Questions and technical Recommendations except for those having a policy or regulatory character (See Briefing Notes 14 for details).

A question remains, however, on the desirability or suitability of introducing the list of what types of Questions and Recommendations subject to consultation of Member States in the Convention. Some delegations considered better to confine the list in the Resolution (COM5/12) to give the flexibility to review and update the list. On the other hand, some delegations felt it was important to embody the text in the Convention to clearly keep on record the areas considered to be in the province of Member States.

Review of the Contribution of Industry Members to the ITU
See Briefing Notes N° 12 for details on the way the ITU is funded)

The idea of the review adopted by the Conference is to examine whether, within the context of the free-choice system, the current ration between the amounts of the contributory units paid by Member States and industry members (i.e 1/5) should be maintained, in light of the future financial structure of the Union. The Resolution provides for a review open to both Member States and industry members to examine contributions of industry members, and to report to the next Plenipotentiary Conference on the results of any action deemed necessary.

Elections for the Radio Regulations Board

On a final compromise, the Conference agreed to embody in the Constitution a provision according to which the Board will be composed of not more than either 12 members or of a number corresponding to 6% of the total number of Member States, whichever is greater. Some delegations stated for the record that the 6% should be used also in distribution of seats among regions; others also stated for the record that the 6% was applicable in determining the total number of RRB members calculated, on the total number of Member States, and not for distribution among regions.

Distribution to the 5 regions are now:

  • Regions A, B and C: 2 posts each
  • Regions D and E: 3 posts each

Region A – Americas/Region B – Western Europe/Region C – Eastern Europe/
Region D – Africa/Region E – Asia and Australasia

For the list of the candidates to the RRB elections, please refer to

World Radiocommunication Assemblies

The World Radiocommunication Assemblies will now take place every two to three years but not necessarily in conjunction with a World Radiocommunications Conference as had been the case.

Future Election Procedures (COM5/7)

After much debate as to whether reference should be made to "permanent" or "standing" election procedures, it was decided to settle for "stable". The squabble over the term to be used stemmed from the fact that, for some, the language had to be sufficiently neutral so as not limit the latitude of Council to evaluate the pros and cons of standing vs. ad hoc procedures. Council will now be asked to develop, in consultation with Member States, draft election procedures and submit a report containing these procedures for examination and possible adoption as permanent.

International Telecommunication Regulations (COM5/16)

A statement by Syria that the operative paragraph had not been discussed by Committee 5 resulted , some discussions on whether it had or not. The reason was that the text of the resolution had been submitted to the Editorial Committee through an erroneous transmission by Committee 5 and therefore tabled to the Plenary as a document for first reading for the Final Acts rather than for discussion in Plenary. For this reason, the document will be resubmitted to the Plenary for debate.

Evaluation of the Administrative Due Diligence (COM5/11)

On whether or not to empower the next World Radiocommunication Conference to introduce financial due diligence, should evaluation of the impact of the administrative due diligence not be positive, the Conference decided to recommend that the 2002 Plenipotentiary Conference consider the recommendations of the WRC 2000 and take any measures it considers appropriate. The Conference felt that leaving the words "regarding the application of financial due diligence" was prejudging the evaluation to be made by the WRC and the action which the Plenipotentiary Conference would wish to take.

Satellite Networks Filing Procedures (COM5/17)
(See Briefing Notes N° 15)

Despite approval of the resolution aimed at keeping the satellite networks filing procedures under on-going review, the matter was reopened today when delegations questioned the reference to financial due diligence which had not been retained in any Conference texts. Others questioned the meaning of the operative paragraph calling for the on-going review and update of the filing procedures, to ensure that they reflect the latest technologies. Some considered that only the technical characteristics were to be reviewed and updated; others said that it was the whole procedure that needed monitoring so as to update them, when and as required, in line with the rapid changes in technologies. The text was finally approved with deletion of the reference to financial due diligence but with the broader language.n

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