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

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Sat Dec 22 23:06:50 EST 2012

Dear Deborah,

Thanks for your response and the very genuine attempts at accommodating 
my concerns.

Any set of civil society actors are of course welcome to make any 
statement on WCIT on their own behalf, and also seek wider endorsements 
for it. Further comments in-line.

On Sunday 23 December 2012 08:50 AM, Deborah Brown wrote:
> 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 letter 
> <https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1LiM3FfKF8Fgih7Um7v2vK20J2AigneGrgJ93YTbqLSM>, 
> which around 70 civil society orgs/individuals, including IT for 
> Change, signed onto.

Yes, IT for Change stands with that statement, and is happy to sign on 
any follow-on statement on procedural issues.

> 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?

You are right. My concern is only about para 1 (second line), para 2 and 
para 3. I agree with the rest of the statement.

> In the immediate post-WCIT environment, it seemed necessary to take 
> into account the new treaty in this statement.

I do understand that.

> 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.

I propose that Jeremy and Andrew attempt that exercise, whether or not 
it culminates into an agreement on a single text.

> 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.

Thanks. Although, even a narrower statement (without para 1,2 and 3) has 
be claimed only to be on the behalf of those who sign it, as all civil 
society statements should be. IT for Change would sign that statement, 
and it is possible that BestBits as a group may agree to do so too.
> I hope you appreciate that with around 20 signatories, I'm not in a 
> position to make substantive edits to the text unilaterally.

Of course. Through you I address all the present signatories to the 
inappropriateness-es that I mentioned in my last email, and this. I am 
sure that all will understand the concerns that I have raised. To 
repeat, of course any set of actors are welcome to frame any statement 
whatsoever on their own behalf, which however should not appear to have 
umbilical linkages with any statement of another group that might or 
might not be in agreement with the new statement.

Best regards


> 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,
> Deborah
> On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 8:28 AM, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net 
> <mailto: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>
>     [mailto:bestbits-request at lists.igcaucus.org] *On Behalf Of
>     *Deborah Brown
>     *Sent:* Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:09 PM
>     *To:* wcit12 at cdt.org <mailto:wcit12 at cdt.org>;
>     <bestbits at lists.igcaucus.org>
>     <mailto: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 <mailto: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 <mailto:deborah at accessnow.org>
> S. deborah.l.brown
> T. deblebrown
> PGP 0x5EB4727D

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