[bestbits] Civil Society Participation at ITU Plenipot 2018

Richard Wingfield richard at gp-digital.org
Thu Feb 1 13:03:59 EST 2018

Dear all,

In case of interest, please find below information which is sent on behalf
of all of the organisations listed at the end of this communication.


*Civil Society Participation at PP-18*

The ITU will hold its quadrennial Plenipotentiary Conference this November.
At the conference – PP-18 – the ITU will be setting out its strategic and
financial agenda for the upcoming years, which will involve the discussion
of a range of Internet-related policy issues that concern the exercise of
human rights online. It is therefore critical for civil society voices to
be heard at PP-18.

In recent years, issues including online privacy, cybersecurity, and the
gender digital divide have become significant flashpoints within the ITU
work-agenda, particularly as the focus on the Internet of Things and
over-the-top (OTT) services grows. Proposals put forth by ITU Members
during other recent conferences, including the World Telecommunication
Standardization Assembly in 2016 and the World Telecommunication
Development Conference in 2017, show the growing importance of these issues
and highlight the likelihood of these being put forward again during the
regional preparatory meetings leading up to PP-18. Many among these
proposals bear serious implications for the free and full exercise of
civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights online – rights
which people are entitled to online as well as offline – as well as the
achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Significant barriers currently impede robust and meaningful civil society
participation in ITU decision-making processes: most notably, the high
financial costs of attendance at the regional meetings, and conferences
such as PP-18. Despite the new ITU Document/Information Access policy,
access to proposals from ITU Member States continue to be an issue.
Moreover, restrictions that limit participation of civil society in some
study groups and working groups to only Member States continue to restrict
civil society from becoming more active. As a result, civil society is
often barred from protecting human rights against adverse policy and
standards development.

We are a group of civil society organizations committed to participating in
the discussions at PP-18, despite these barriers. In the months ahead, we
urge civil society to get more involved. Specifically, interested
organizations can:

   - Request to join the national delegations of Member States, and observe
   or participate in the national or regional preparatory processes for PP-18.
   The most effective way to influence PP-18 outcomes is by engaging with
   national delegations, and working within these delegations to ensure that
   these viewpoints are taken into account, though this is not a substitute
   for ensuring an independent civil society voice at PP-18 itself;

   - Participate in the ITU’s open consultation processes
   <https://www.itu.int/en/consultations/Pages/default.aspx>, including the
   next held by the Council Working Group on International Internet-related
   Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) in early 2019, and for the ITU’s
   Strategic and Financial Plans 2020-2023 (CWG-SFP);

   - Encourage the ITU to establish an open platform for public views to be
   heard ahead of PP-18, as was offered in 2014, with sufficient time for
   participation, and participate in such a platform; and

   - Follow what Member States say and do in other spaces and processes
   leading up to PP-18.

Fundamentally, civil society participation at PP-18 will only be as
effective as our preparation, coordination and collaboration from now until
the end of the conference. Therefore, we encourage civil society
organizations that are interested to join the newly established Civil
Society PP-18 mailing list to continue the discussion. We will use this
list to plan future coordination meetings, share information, and work
together. Click here <https://lists.apc.org/mailman/listinfo/pp18_cs_coord>
to join the mailing list. (New members will be added to the list on a ‘no
objection’ basis following a 24-hour consideration period.)

As the ITU looks to its financial and strategic future this November, we
must ensure that it protects the future of a free and open Internet.

*Global Partners Digital*
*Public Knowledge*
*Derechos Digitales*
*Asociación por los Derechos Civiles.*
*Access Now*
*Association for Progressive Communications*


*Richard Wingfield*
Second Home, 68 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5JL
T: +44 (0)203 818 3258 | Skype: richard at gp-digital.org
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