[governance] [bestbits] Your sign on requested- Civil society statement post-WCIT

Deborah Brown deborah at accessnow.org
Sat Dec 22 22:20:02 EST 2012

Dear Parminder,

Thank you very much for this detailed response. As I wrote to Michael, and
I would like to reiterate here, this statement was neither meant to speak
on behalf of "civil society" as a whole, nor the BestBits group in full. I
see how it might be read this way, and I have proposed to go back to the
group that drafted it with edits that would clarify exactly who this
statement is on behalf of.

I think it might also help here to give a bit more information on the
origin and intended purpose of this statement. As you are aware, a number
of civil society representatives in Dubai met with SG Touré during WCIT and
had presented him with concerns regarding limitations civil society
participation (both in person and remotely). They presented him with a
which around 70 civil society orgs/individuals, including IT for Change,
signed onto. After the meeting, there was a general sense that it was of
strategic importance to follow up with the ITU post-WCIT to hold the SG to
the commitments that he made. That is the primary purpose of the letter.
Most of your criticism seems focused on the first two paragraphs of the
statement, which relate to the content of the ITRs and BestBits, not the
following five paragraphs, which deal with civil society participation. Is
that correct?

In the immediate post-WCIT environment, it seemed necessary to take into
account the new treaty in this statement. Referring to the BestBits
statement in reacting to the new ITRs seemed like the natural and right
thing to do, but it was most certainly not meant to speak on behalf of the
BestBits group. There are of course a variety of different views on WCIT,
so it is understandable that there may be disagreement among BestBits
signatories on how the new treaty measures against the BestBits statement.
But as you suggest, initiating that conversation within the BestBits group
may be valuable.

Since as you note, the BestBits statement is the common ownership of those
who signed it, and as a signatory you object to the use of selective
quotations, I will go back to the group of signatories of this post-WCIT
statement with two options: one essentially removing the first two
paragraphs, and mentions of BestBits so that it is a statement on civil
society participation only; and the second with the current text with the
minor, but critical change of adding "the undersigned members of" before
any mention of civil society. If everyone who has signed the current
version is equally satisfied with the new version (first option) then we
can go with the narrower statement.

I hope you appreciate that with around 20 signatories, I'm not in a
position to make substantive edits to the text unilaterally. But I am happy
to go back to the signatories and offer an option that would seem to
satisfy your criticism. I also hope that the intention behind this
statement is more clear now. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on
this approach and to continuing the discussion.

Kind regards,

On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 8:28 AM, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net>wrote:

>  Hi Deborah
> I find the new ITRs largely in keeping with the BestBits pre WCIT
> statement. So, I dont see why we should decry it. The ITRs speaks
> everywhere only about telecommunication networks (if you dont think so, pl
> do point out the relevant part). In Baku we actually did agree that the
> physical layer of the Internet  - implied by general terms like access to
> broadband etc -  can be covered by the ITRs. This understanding was the
> basis of the agreement on the language that IP layer and above must not be
> regulated. However, developed countires did not even agree to terms
> concerned with the physical layer of the Internet - like access to
> broadband - to be included in the ITRs. This I understand was against what
> we wanted. So probably we should speak about it.
> As for the Internet resolution which is not a part of the ITRs but
> appended to it, this compromise actually appears very symmetric to the the
> compromise that we reached at the BestBits meeting, whereby the last
> sentence of our statement read....
> "More generally we call upon the ITU to promote principles of net
> neutrality, open standards, affordable access and universal service, and
> effective competition. "
> All/ most of these issues are Internet issues. In fact, although the
> BestBit statement was open to it, the physical layer of the Internet was no
> included in the ITRs, how we can now criticise its inclusion even in an
> appended resolution. Why is your proposed statement speaking against the
> 'Internet resolution' that is not even part of the ITRs. We should welcome
> it since it correspond to the manner in which we structured our own
> statement. Quoting from your proposed statement "We regret that an Internet
> governance-related resolution has been included in the Final Acts of WCIT"
> When the proposed statement says
>  "We are also concerned by the lack of clarity around the applicability of
> the treaty, which as defined could have unforeseen consequences for an open
> internet, and the lack of specificity in key terms, such as security, which
> may negatively impact the public’s rights to privacy and freedom of
> expression."
> Can you specify what clarity would we have wanted to be included. The
> preamble says 'content is not included', it says, the ITRs will be
> implemented in a manner that respects and upholds  human rights. What else
> could have been written in the form of clarifying text. Can you please
> state some specifics in this regard.
> It is extremely rare that civil society makes a statement of expectations
> from an global meeting/ treaty and than the meeting/ treaty actually meets
> those expectations to the extent that the new ITRs meet the expectations of
> the BestBits statement. This is how I look at it but I am ready to hear the
> views of others and discuss the matter further.
> The proposed statement uses selectively text from the BestBits statement
> and in this respect seem to take forward the same initiative, which is
> quite misleading. As I said, I disagree with the assessment presented in
> the proposed statement of the correlation of the BEstBits statement with
> the new ITRs. I see the correlation as largely positive.
> Therefore it would not be right for the proposed statement to selectively
> quote in the manner it does from the BestBits statement and make its case
> based on that quotation . The BestBits statement is the common ownership of
> those who signed it, and as one of signatories I object to the manner in
> which the proposed statement selectively quotes the BestBits statement,
> without giving the full picture. If you indeed want to go ahead with the
> statement please remove those quotes from the besbits statement.
> In the end, It is disappointing that while a civil society group got
> together to draft a pre WCIT statement, a post WCIT statement is being
> presented by a good number of participants of that group as a fait
> accompli, and was not developed together in this group. On the other hand,
> of course any group has a right to issue its own statement. However, I do
> appeal to those managing the Bestbits group at present to see if we can
> draft a BestBits statement on WCIT outcomes.
> Also, agreeing with Micheal, the proposed statement cannot use the term
> 'civil society in a generic manner, as if it represents 'the' civil
> society.
> Willing to talk further on the above issues.
> Thanks and best regards, parminder
>  *From:* bestbits-request at lists.igcaucus.org [
> mailto:bestbits-request at lists.igcaucus.org<bestbits-request at lists.igcaucus.org>]
> *On Behalf Of *Deborah Brown
> *Sent:* Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:09 PM
> *To:* wcit12 at cdt.org; <bestbits at lists.igcaucus.org><bestbits at lists.igcaucus.org>;
> AfriCS-IG
> *Subject:* [bestbits] Your sign on requested- Civil society statement
> post-WCIT****
> ** **
> Dear all, ****
> ** **
> As a follow up to the civil society letter to WCIT (
> https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1LiM3FfKF8Fgih7Um7v2vK20J2AigneGrgJ93YTbqLSM)
> that a number of organizations on this list have signed on to, civil
> society representatives in Dubai drafted a statement on the new ITRs and
> the future of multi-stakeholder engagement. The text of the statement is
> pasted below.****
> This statement assesses the opportunities and challenges faced by civil
> society at WCIT and sets out shortcomings we would like to see addressed to
> achieve meaningful civil society participation at the ITU moving forward.
> It is meant to be complementary to other post-WCIT civil society statements
> that focus on the substance of the ITRs. ****
> We would very much like to secure sign on from your organization. We feel
> that there is a strategic importance of having this communication with the
> ITU Secretariat on record as we look to future conversations/events. Though
> the timing is not ideal, we plan to publish this statement with the list of
> signatories and send a copy to the ITU on Monday. Therefore,* we request
> that you reply to this email by 0900 EST/1400 UTC on Monday, January 24 if
> you would like to sign on*. Like with the earlier letter, we will leave
> the statement open for sign on and update the list of
> signatories regularly. I will send out a publicly accessible link with the
> statement and list of signatories on Monday for people to post and
> circulate, but it would also be great to discuss ways to draw attention to
> this statement in the New Year.****
> Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for your
> attention to this. Warm wishes over the holidays.****
> Best regards,****
> Deborah ****
> ** **
> *Civil Society statement on the new ITRs and the future of
> multi-stakeholder engagement*****
> December 21, 2012****
> Civil society is disappointed that the World Conference on International
> Telecommunications (WCIT) could not come to consensus in revising the
> International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs).  We understand,
> however, the serious concerns that a number of governments have expressed
> with regard to the potential impact of the new regulations.****
> As civil society stated in its Best Bits statement, a key criterion for
> ITRs should be that “any proposed revisions are confined to the traditional
> scope of the ITRs” and “where international regulation is required around
> technical issues [it] is limited to telecommunications networks and
> interoperability standards.”  We regret that an Internet governance-related
> resolution has been included in the Final Acts of WCIT, despite assertions
> by many that WCIT was not about Internet governance. We are also concerned
> by the lack of clarity around the applicability of the treaty, which as
> defined could have unforeseen consequences for an open internet, and the
> lack of specificity in key terms, such as security, which may negatively
> impact the public’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression.****
> This said, civil society would like to acknowledge and thank those
> governments that opened their delegations to members of civil society and
> other stakeholder groups.  This was a very important initial step in
> establishing a civil society voice in the proceedings and we trust that it
> signals a wider commitment to multi-stakeholder approaches in public policy
> development and decision-making on telecommunications and Internet-related
> matters.  We trust that this openness and inclusive approach will continue
> and extend to upcoming ITU-related work and beyond, and we urge other
> governments to welcome and engage with civil society going forward.****
> As we communicated to ITU Secretary General Touré, we also commend the ITU
> on first steps towards greater transparency and openness with regard to
> access to and webcasting of plenary sessions and Committee 5 sessions, as
> well as soliciting public submissions.  These initial steps enabled civil
> society to play a constructive, albeit limited, role at the WCIT.****
> However there remain serious limitations to engaging with the ITU.  The
> substantive policy deliberations in working groups were neither webcast nor
> open to unaffiliated civil society.  Further, while it is positive that the
> ITU opened the process to public comment, these comments were never part of
> the official record.  We raised both of these challenges with the Secretary
> General, in writing and in person, and he committed to addressing these
> concerns and appealing to member states, as appropriate. Although the WCIT
> has concluded, we renew our request to have the public comments submitted
> as official ITU documents to capture these positions for the historical
> record.****
> We also raised the issue of the lack of any institutional mechanism for
> civil society participation at the ITU. While the participation of civil
> society representatives in government delegations benefits both the
> delegations and the WCIT’s deliberations as a whole, it cannot substitute
> for engagement with independent members of civil society.  We will be
> following up on these important matters with the Secretary General and
> welcome his commitment to considering institutional remedies to this
> challenge.****
> Looking forward, civil society seeks to work with governments and other
> stakeholders around the globe towards an ever more inclusive and
> substantive multi-stakeholder engagement on telecommunications, Internet,
> and related matters.  Much more needs to be done with regard to opening the
> ITU to greater genuine multi-stakeholder participation and in particular
> independent civil society participation - institutional change will need to
> occur and we will work with the ITU and other stakeholders to bring this
> about.  These changes are vitally important and need to be addressed as
> soon as possible given the upcoming 2013 World Telecommunication Policy
> Forum, World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) and 2014 ITU
> Plenipotentiary Conference.****
> ** **
> ** **
> ** **
> -- ****
> Deborah Brown****
> Policy Analyst****
> Access | AccessNow.org****
> E. deborah at accessnow.org****
> S. deborah.l.brown****
> T. deblebrown****
> PGP 0x5EB4727D****
> ** **
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Deborah Brown
Policy Analyst
Access | AccessNow.org
E. deborah at accessnow.org
S. deborah.l.brown
T. deblebrown
PGP 0x5EB4727D
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