[governance] Annan in Davos on Civil Society

William Drake drake at hei.unige.ch
Sat Jan 28 10:52:35 EST 2006


As one can see by looking at the list archives, the question of opening ITU
to CS has been discussed a number of times here over the past few years.
The discussions have never been cumulative or led to action, so the next
time it comes up we again go over the same ground and positions.  So further
to prior responses to Ewan, I would repeat that it is not, in fact, easy.
The bar for becoming a sector member or even associate is quite high.
Applications have to: be approved by the Council, which always has
NGO-unfriendly governments in it; have what they'd deem to be a significant
stake--e.g. as a provider, developer, or large user of international
telecoms--and technical expertise in the particular sector's area of work;
have a capacity to send people to the frequent and long study group, working
party, etc. meetings; and normally, pay a hefty fee, which in principle can
be waived but then that's a negotiation point too.  Smallish progressive
advocacy organizations cannot meet these requirements; AMARC, which  I
understand got admitted, presumably to ITU-R, could, but the overwhelming
majority of WSIS-related NGOs could not.  Sean O'Siochru et al tried to get
admitted to ITU-D and were rejected.  The experience of Ewan's organization,
which represents large corporate users, is not instructive.  Neither is that
of ISOC, which also has large corporate members and is home to the IETF,
IAB, etc., with which the ITU has to deal in some standards areas.

That said, the context may be changing and more receptive due to WSIS.
There are people in the secretariat who understand that being closed to CS
didn't help build support for their aspirations in IG in particular, and who
recognize that it's not like we'd swarm in huge numbers into ITU-R SG3
meeting on spectrum propagation and misbehave.  Some governments (Brazil,
Syria) and even corporations (see Siemens' contribution for the reform
meeting) are making receptive proposals.  Now, in the wake of WSIS and with
follow-up and implementation efforts on tap, is probably the best
opportunity there's ever been to get a decent hearing.  But we have to be
clear about what we're asking for and could bring to the table, probably in
nonconfrontational rhetoric.

It would be good to be able to participate in sector work, but I doubt that
many NGOs would really participate regularly if given the chance.  Maybe 4-6
meetings a year, up to two weeks at a time, in Geneva, would not be cheap
for non-locals.  I'd be interested in ITU-T SG3, but I'm in Geneva.  For
others,  probably a more attractive near-term request would be that they
open up periodically organized special workshops and seminars, the Council
working group on WSIS, the big standards and development conferences held
every four years, and the plenipotentiary conferences.  While still expense,
NGOs probably could participate in these infrequent meetings more readily.
Of course, the precise terms of participation would be a question that
requires consideration; whether we could plausibly ask for the same terms
and conditions as private sector entities that have big investments and pay
big bucks to participate is a question.

ITU is going to be the main multilateral venue in which governments address
IG public policy and standards issues, not the GAC or anywhere else, and we
should be there.



PS: ITU has a very complex relation to UN central, so the potential impact
of Kofi Annan's position is very unclear but probably limited.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: governance-bounces at lists.cpsr.org
> [mailto:governance-bounces at lists.cpsr.org]On Behalf Of Veni Markovski
> Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 2:47 PM
> To: Ewan SUTHERLAND; Governance Caucus;
> "Wolfgang_Kleinwachter"@host212.ipowerweb.com
> Subject: Re: [governance] Annan in Davos on Civil Society
> At 05:35 28-01-06  +0000, Ewan SUTHERLAND wrote:
> >Guys
> >
> >There are provisions in the ITU legal instruments to admit as members
> >international and regional associations. It is relatively
> straightforward to
> >apply to the ITU Council to be admitted as a member. Provided
> someone has an
> >organisation that is willing to be used as a vehicle we could have
> >some action on
> >this.
> True.
> But it costs a lot of money.
> by the way, I think that the Internet Society (www.isoc.org) is a
> member, so it can be used as such a vehicle.
> Perhaps Matthew Shears can tell us more there?
> Sincerely,
> Veni Markovski
> http://www.isoc.bg/ig
> <http://www.isoc.bg/ig>the Internet Governance Resource Portal
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> governance at lists.cpsr.org
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