How to not look like a newbie at an ITU Council meeting

Note: I am attending the ITU Council 2016 meeting as a member of the Australian delegation; however, any of the views I express in this blog post are entirely my own. This post does not reflect the official Australian position, nor is its content endorsed in any way by the Australian government.

ITU Council can be a daunting experience for newbies and old timers alike. As well as the formal etiquette and procedures (such as a confusing array of document types) there are the things that nobody ever tells you. This is a guide to some of that hidden etiquette:

  1. The first time you take the floor, congratulate the Chair on being elected. You must do this, even if your first intervention doesn’t happen until the second week of the meeting.
  2. Don’t take a selfie while you’re sitting behind your country’s flag. If you really must take a selfie, make sure you don’t do it while you’re on the big screen showing the webcast of the meeting.you-are-on-camera
  3. Decide what approach to take when the person next to you/in front of you/behind you is making an intervention and you appear on the big screen as well. Will you look directly at the person making the intervention and look interested? Do you prefer to appear to be taking notes studiously? Or are you so cool that you don’t care that you’re appearing at twice life size on the big screens at the front?
  4. If you haven’t figured out how to turn your phone to silent mode, do. Not everyone may appreciate your taste in music. And not everyone may appreciate hearing that music when you leave the room and your phone rings. And rings. And rings.
  5. Take your earpiece off before you turn your microphone on to make an intervention. Else, a high-pitched squeal will pierce the ears of everyone else in the room. And they will not thank you for it.
  6. Learn how to effectively smuggle liquids into the Popov meeting room by hiding them in your bag. If you carry them openly, the bouncers[1] at the door are likely to prevent your entry.
  7. Make sure you have the Geneva “three kiss” protocol perfected. It’s not one kiss. It’s not two kisses. It’s three. And absolutely no hand kissing, unless you want to look like a time traveller from the 19th century.
  8. Learn how to use the cheap coffee vending machine correctly. First, insert 1CHF, then choose the sugar level, and finally choose coffee type. The order is not logical, but this is Geneva. Accept it.
  9. Before you begin your serious intervention between coffee break and lunch, don’t forget to thank the Member State that just paid out for the coffee and croissants. Especially if that country is an ally or your country hasn’t paid for a coffee break in a long time.

[1] The bouncers are there to ensure that only suitably accredited people enter the room.

Stop the presses! ITU is not resolving to take over the Internet!

pp14-busan-twitterYesterday, at the ITU’s Plenipotentiary’s Sunday session, the Working Group of Plenary’s Ad Hoc Group on Internet-related resolutions agreed to remove the most controversial of proposed changes to ITU’s resolutions. You know the ones – the proposals have been  causing some in the Internet governance community, the media and a small smattering of Member States to flap about, telling anyone who’d listen, “OMG, the ITU’s about to take over the Internet!”

So, in today’s non-news, let me summarize what ITU Member States have not resolved to do in the Internet-related Ad Hoc Group:

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1. ITU is not going to re-engineer the Internet. What has become known simply as “the Indian proposal” was not adopted by Member States. Instead, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Group on Internet-related resolutions will read a statement during the Working Group of Plenary today explaining that the proposal is not going forward as a resolution, but that the Ad Hoc Group welcomes approrpriate forums taking up the issues raised by the proposal.

2. ITU is not going to mention mass surveillance, or attempt to protect State sovereignty from unlawful surveillance at the international level through the development of international Internet-related public policy. In fact, the words “surveillance” and “privacy” are not going to appear anywhere in the four main Internet resolutions, 101, 102, 133 or 180. Despite this being the first big ITU conference since Snowden’s revelations, attempts to raise surveillance and privacy issues in Resolution 101 and 102 crashed and burned.

3. ITU is not going to investigate becoming an Internet registry or even mention that some developing countries want ITU to become an Internet registry. Proposed amendments from the RCC to Resolution 102, that would have inserted “considering further” and “resolves” text about ITU becoming an Internet registry was withdrawn last night.

I’ll blog about why these things happened later, but for now, I thought folks just might like to keep up to date with what isn’t happening at ITU Plenipotentiary.

The offspring of PP14 Working Group of Plenary

pp14-busan-twitterThe Working Group (WG) of Plenary is responsible for a seemingly endless number of proposed amendments to resolutions and proposed new resolutions. Clearly, not all of them can be thrashed out in the WG, so many have been spun out into smaller discussion groups.

In case you were wondering exactly how many Ad Hoc Groups (AHGs) and consolidation efforts had come out of the WG of Plenary to date, I’ve put together a quick chart. Click on the smaller image below for the full sized version:

wg-plenary-chart-v1A couple of explanatory notes:

  • I haven’t included the correct full titles of resolutions, but used shortened names in the chart.
  • I haven’t noted (yet) when a consolidation effort has already resulted in a document approved by the WG of Plenary.
  • I’ve put the chart together while also listening to PP14 sessions, so it may contain errors or be missing AHGs or consolidation efforts. If you notice anything missing or wrong, please contact me.

DiploRoo goes to ITU

DiploRoo first made its appearance at ITU Council 2014 in May and was an instant celebrity. Other Member States spent thousands on their election campaigns during Council. All Australia had to do was blow up a plastic kangaroo and delegates were lining up in the aisles to have their photos taken with the marsupial superstar.

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DiploRoo was called on again to help Australia’s cause at Plenipotentiary. If anyone could help Australia be re-elected to Council, DiploRoo could.

A day in the life of a Diplomatic Kangaroo

It starts with a bus ride.

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…Followed by a rather too intimate body scan at the security check point at BEXCO.

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You brainstorm Australia’s last-minute Council election campaign strategy with the humans.

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You then listen intently to Channel 1 (English) during Plenary.

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Word gets around that a celebrity is in the room. (Standing on the desk at the front of the room makes you hard to miss.)

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Everyone wants a photo with you.

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You get papped.

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Even your fans don’t always treat you with the respect you deserve.

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You get a bit of loving, which makes things better.

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You participate in the official Australian post-Council-win photo shoot.

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Yet more fans want to meet you.

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After a long day, you then spent hours debating text in a late-night ad hoc group, which leaves you feeling rather deflated.

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Will DiploRoo make another appearance?

Keep an eye on late night ad hoc group meetings. He may pop in to brighten up his fans’ coffee breaks.

And a big thanks to the Aussie delegation, who provided me with photos 2, 3 and 5.