Observations and Recommendations for Reform1
- Public/private sector partnership. The reform of ITU requires a
common vision of its future as a public/private partnership in order to
preserve and strengthen its international credibility. The respective
roles in this partnership need to be better defined, so that both
parties have rights and carry obligations. The decision-making functions
of the ITU should reflect the modern, competitive telecommunications
environment in which the private sector plays the lead role while the
regulatory agencies act as an arbitrator for the wider public interest.
It is suggested that decision-making in the Council should be reviewed
in light of possible private sector inclusion. Once the decision-making
balance in ITU between the public and private sectors has been revised,
the financing balance should also be changed accordingly.
- Radiocommunications and the stewardship of scarce resources. ITU
should continue to play an effective harmonization role at the global
level, including its treaty function; however, ITU could take a stronger
role in facilitating regional, interregional and bilateral harmonization
of spectrum use and orbital slots, including dispute resolution. The
reform process should review the problems involved with "paper
satellites". Processes should be simplified, where possible, to
reduce the backlog in satellite co-ordination.
- Standardization. The ITU-T’s strength lies in the fact that it
is a global standards body in which all countries can participate. Its
role in the future will depend on how quickly it can act and whether it
can add value or enhance quality, for instance by adding global
legitimacy and transparency to standards developed elsewhere. ITU-T
could become a facilitator for collaboration, convening meetings among
different standards bodies and industry forums, in particular on
interworking between the Internet and telecommunication networks, both
fixed and mobile. This new role would not require so many study groups,
but ITU’s standards development activities would instead concentrate
on areas where ITU-T has a position of leadership, such as optical
transmission, voice services, numbering signaling and network
management. The ITU-T’s work should be project-oriented in nature,
involving the private-sector and its working methods that have fostered
the development of the Internet.
- Development. The aims of the ITU-D’s work are highly important.
Due to the rapidly changing paradigm for the regulation of
telecommunications markets, scarcity of regulatory expertise and human
resources has become a widespread phenomenon. ITU should expand its
focus from technical assistance towards helping developing countries
establish pro-market regulatory frameworks and close the digital divide.
This will require greater participation by the private sector and closer
co-operation with the Development Banks, especially the World Bank. To
this end, the function of regional offices should be strengthened.
- Policy issues
- Policy-related areas. The ITU can serve as an
international focal point for the discussion of
telecommunication policy and regulatory affairs. ITU needs to
provide a forum where national regulatory authorities from
around the world can discuss key issues and obtain input from
those to be regulated. Bringing together policy work within the
Secretariat could create a centre for regulatory expertise,
which would serve as a proactive "knowledge centre".
It could collect and collate best practice regulatory policies
from different countries and act as a repository for
benchmarking statistics in its area of expertise.
- Internet and convergence. The ITU may play a useful role
in the future by serving as a global co-ordinator or umbrella,
in its areas of competence, to act as a facilitator towards the
resolution of different national policies and rules that might
hamper the growth of the Internet and e-commerce. The ITU can
also provide international credibility to initiatives developed
by the private sector and other bodies, but should avoid
intervening on issues, such as content, which are not within its
- Co-operation. ITU should take a more active role in
cooperating closely with other regional and international
organizations involved in telecommunications (e.g., WTO) and
investment finance (e.g. World Bank) and should become the focal
point for co-operation among different bodies, in order to
promote international consistency and avoid duplication.
- Dispute settlement mechanism. Governments and the private sector
would welcome a review of the existing Union procedures governing
dispute settlement to see if they might be expanded in scope to provide
governments and the private sector with a neutral and effective
mechanism to resolve disputes which are international in nature.
- ITU working methods and management
- Where applicable, more emphasis should be placed on advance
consensus-building among the membership and carefully planned
agendas. This will require different types of meetings, such as
regional co-ordination meetings and expert groups, ahead of
major decision-making conferences and assemblies. The powers of
the Council should be revamped so that it can take decisions on
rapidly evolving policy issues, if necessary by majority voting.
ITU should make greater use of ad hoc expert groups with a
specific mandate and finite duration for handling urgent policy
issues. Electronic working methods should be embraced to the
maximum extent possible.
- Accountability for running the ITU should rest with the
Secretary-General who should be given greater authority and
responsibility for the operation of the Union. The current
method of electing officials is lengthy and inefficient. A new
process for the efficient nomination and approval of officials
needs to be put into place. The private sector members of the
RAP, supported by some of their other colleagues, suggest that
the Secretary-General could propose a slate of candidates to be
appointed by the appropriate bodies—taking into consideration
the need for a high level of skills and for geographic balance.
- The ITU requires more flexible management tools, such as
performance excellence and cost-effective management. A
horizontal approach towards key issues and alignment of goals
would facilitate better co-ordination between Sectors. The
secretariat should be given a more proactive role. In some
areas, such as the backlog in satellite notifications, process
re-engineering could bring quick results. Some members of the
RAP feel that it might be possible to take English as the
working language, with translation paid by language groups. This
would greatly reduce costs and increase efficiency.
- To push forward the reform process, a specialised external group
should be appointed to produce concrete recommendations against
fixed deadlines for deliverables.
- TELECOM events. A reassessment of TELECOM events should be an
important part of the reform process. In particular, private industry
would seek a review of the management, periodicity and oversight of
TELECOM and its events.
||These recommendations and observations
were drawn up by members of the Reform Advisory Panel (RAP) at their
second meeting, on 10th March 2000. The members of
the RAP participated in a private capacity and offered their views
on the direction that reform should take. This report will be
submitted to the ITU Council and its Working Group on Reform as part
of the report of the ITU Secretary-General. The individual
contributions of RAP members will also be made available.