ITU: More Transparency On World Conference On Telecommunications?Published on 4 June 2012 @ 7:59 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today announced it would start publishing briefing papers on the issues surrounding the revision of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) and explain the “processes as well participation rights and opportunities to comment.”
ITU will publish a paper on frequently asked questions (see press release here). While a spokesperson said the briefing papers had been in preparation for some time, the move could be seen as a step by the UN organisation to go on the offensive amidst growing criticisms about the perceived secrecy of ongoing preparatory negotiations.
At a recent update on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Geneva, civil society representatives pressed for access to the information and documents tabled by member states. According to the spokesperson, the issue of wider availability of WCIT documents is expected to be raised at the upcoming ITU Council session on 4 July.
Background on the WCIT issue is here (IPW, Information and Communications Technology, 30 April 2012).
Access to ITU documents has been requested for many years, and the ITU secretariat continuously pointed to their member states for a decision on opening up. Why member states – or sector members – have so far not made relevant documents from the preparatory process available to the public, is not clear. Facing a potential infection with the “ACTA-virus” – where lack of transparency and inclusion may now result in the death of the secretly negotiated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – transparency seems to be up on the ITU agenda again.
The transparency discussion comes amidst a rising stream of criticism from the United States against a stronger role for the ITU with regard to internet issues, which, according to a US congressional hearing last week (IPW, US Policy, 1 June 2012), is favoured by some member states.
Meanwhile, the WCIT preparatory negotiations are expected to go into a final round at a meeting of the ITU Council WCIT Working Group on 20-22 June. If member states agree, an option for comments from outside the ITU membership might be allowed to the final output documents from this meeting.