ITU ruefully agrees to share Internet Governance #icann #isoc #ietf #itu #igf #w3c

Monica Ehmert of IP-Watch has written a report on the recently concluded ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. She notes the tussle over recognizing the roles of independent organizations (such as the Internet Society) in the management of the Internet.

The opposite position underlining ITU’s need to cooperate with existing self-governing internet organisations was provided by the Swedish delegate speaking for the 48 members of the “European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations” (CEPT). Changes both within the Union and in the cooperation with other organisations are necessary, the delegate said. “We need to be more efficient internally and we need to avoid overlap with the work done by other organisations. This is particularly important in the internet area.” The 2010 plenipotentiary decisions will “guide the ITU in the right direction,” the Swedish delegate said.

Despite ITU making moves towards transparency apparently the key resolutions won’t be published until Feb 2011

The whole package of internet-related resolutions (Resolutions 101, 102, 133 and a new resolution on the new internet protocol, or IPv6) was passed at a late hour on Thursday night, close to the end of the three-week meeting and it needed re-elected ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré’s urgent appeal for a compromise. For days, delegations mainly from the Arab world and from Russia had fought against a reference to the self-regulatory organisations like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the internet resolutions.

Proposals to transform ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) into an “international committee, or create an (ITU) Council working group (…) with powers of supervision over ICANN,” or a “progressive cooperation agreement between ITU and ICANN and define a mechanism to increase the participation of governments” were all struck from the text. Also struck earlier in the Guadalajara meeting was a Russian proposal to integrate the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) whose future is on the agenda of the UN General Assembly this week. The IGF was an outcropping of the 2003-2005 ITU-led World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

How, asked Syrian delegate Nabil Kisrawi, can an intergovernmental UN organisation like the ITU be considered to be on equal footing with a California-based private company like ICANN? An explanation of the concerns of the Arab countries came from the Saudi delegation. Some people just did not want the names of ICANN and the other self-regulatory bodies in the resolutions because, “we think that in fact there’s a risk of undermining the role of the ITU in the internet.” All countries are in favour of having ICANN work under international and not under California law, the Saudi delegation said.

Touré’s last-minute compromise for the internet resolutions asked at least for “reciprocity” in the cooperative efforts of the ITU, ICANN and the other internet management organisations, and this formula is now part of all four internet-related resolutions of the ITU work plan for 2012-2015.

Monica observes:

A delegate from Russia said in the closing ceremony that the conference had stated “that the ITU is open for cooperation and is ready to take the first steps to bring closer together other organisations that are dealing with internet-related matters.” But, he said, the ITU is also “ready to take on itself a leading role in internet governance within the scope of its competence and we ask the secretary-general to inform the General Assembly of the UN and all those concerned in telecommunications on our progress in this field.”

and she concludes:

Non-governmental organisations have criticised the ITU for many years and the internet self-regulatory bodies looked at the ITU as interested in “taking over.” With the formal acknowledgement of private domain regulator ICANN, the IP-address allocating RIRs, the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium – standardisation organisations for the internet protocol and the Web respectively – in its plenipotentiary documents, the ITU might be seen as giving up its claim as sole representative for future networks. But how much will the ITU give up?