Emerging Trends | Regulation
November 15, 2012

WCIT-12: Clarification needed during Open Letter season

By Paul Conneally

It is with great surprise and disappointment that ITU notes the joint letter signed by Greenpeace International and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which was addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon regarding the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12).

The assertions in the open letter cannot go unchallenged, as many of the issues raised are misleading, inaccurate and grounded in conjecture.

It is unfortunate that this letter was drafted, dispatched and made public without any consultation with ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré or ITU as an organization.

A number of misleading inaccuracies which are contained in the letter could have been dispelled before being made public.

In order to provide much needed clarity with regard to the upcoming WCIT-12 and to address Greenpeace International and the International Trade Union Confederation’s concerns regarding a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, ITU have addressed certain inaccuracies and misleading comments contained in the letter, below.

1. Despite what you may have been led to believe, there have not been any proposals calling for a change from the bottom-up multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance to an ITU-controlled model. Internet Control is simply not in the ITU mandate and ITU will continue to fully support the multi-stakeholder approach which it initiated some ten years ago for the World Summit of the Information Society. WCIT-12 cannot empower governments to exercise greater regulation of the Internet.  

2. The letter accuses ITU of not listening to the voices of private sector or civil society. However, as you may be aware, ITU is unique within the UN family in having some 700 private sector members in addition to 193 Member States. All have been engaged in the WCIT-12 preparatory process, which has been underway for some years. In addition, several months ago, ITU set up a public consultation website open to all stakeholders and have held three global briefings (supporting remote participation from anywhere around the world) open to media, analysts and civil society, all of which have been well-attended. Moreover, ITU has been vocal in encouraging all governments to initiate their own national multi-stakeholder public consultation process, with several administrations embracing this suggestion.

3. WCIT-12 will not be convened behind closed doors. Governments are encouraged to include both private sector and civil society representatives on their national delegations. The preliminary list of registered participants already clearly reflects this. There are no limitations whatsoever on the composition or size of delegations. In addition, ITU Secretary-General Touré has personally reached out to civil society leaders and even non-members, urging them to attend WCIT-12. Their voices are considered important by ITU, to the successful outcome of the conference. ITU also expects that media and members of the public will be able to attend the conference free of charge.

4. The counterfactual letter published by Greenpeace and the International Trade Union Confederation inaccurately claim that ITU Council rejected a proposal to make all documents available to all stakeholders. This is simply not true. In fact, membership unanimously accepted the proposal of Dr. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, to make public the main proposals document – a fact that could have easily been verified with ITU. This document is available on ITU’s WCIT-12 website.

In addition, the recent opinion piece published in Wired.com clearly spells out the important issues WCIT-12 will deal with, puts many myths surrounding the conference to rest and emphasizes ITU’s commitment to upholding the fundamental principles of freedom of expression as outlined in Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Rights and Freedoms and in Article 33 of ITU’s own Constitution.

At this very moment, there is a proposal from at least one Member State, supported by many others, to include such text in the revised International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

WCIT-12 is a valuable opportunity to strengthen the important role information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play in achieving the MDGs and serving as a catalyst for socio-economic development.

ITU is pleased to have had the opportunity to respond to seemingly uniformed concerns and provide clarity around the WCIT-12 and remain steadfast in our organizations mandate to connect the world.

This morning, on the invitation of the ITU Secretary-General, a delegation from the International Trade Union Confederation met with the ITU SG and his team in a spirit of constructive dialogue at ITU headquarters. Certain misconceptions were clarified and an invitation was extended to UNI Global – which represents some 180 million telecoms workers around the world – to join ITU.

ITU SG also invited the International Trade Union Confederation to attend WCIT-12.

The International Trade Union Confederation’s delegation was led by its General Secretary Ms. Sharon Burrows and joined by Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union and Tim Noonan, Director of International Trade Union Confederation Campaigns and Communications.

Please also check out the ITU WCIT-12 Myth busting slide deck here.



Paul Conneally. Head of Communications and Partnership Promotion Division, ITU
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WCIT-12: Clarification needed during Open Letter season

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