After the divisive discussions about the ITU’s role in Internet issues at WCIT in December 2012, the harmony that appeared to reign at WTPF-13 in May this year signaled hope for better relations between governments and other stakeholders in future Internet governance discussions. The ITU Council 2013, however, held 11-21 June 2013, showed that there are still many speed bumps in the road ahead.
The CWG-Internet decision at ITU Council 2013
The issue was discussed on four separate occasions during the two-week council meeting: 13 June, 14 June, 19 June, and 20 June. There were five formal proposals related to the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) and the Chair of Council 2013 proposed two ways forward.
Ultimately, the decision on the CWG-Internet by the ITU Council 2013 was not to make a decision.
Instead, Member States informally accepted that the Secretary-General could, in his work to support ITU activities, energize the public consultations that the ITU Council 2012 agreed to adopt in Resolution 1344.
How the Secretariat-General will achieve this is not clear. However, it does seem very probable that the informal mechanism proposed by the Chair of Council 2013—that the Secretariat-General convene a meeting of an Informal Experts Group on the day prior to CWG-Internet meetings—will not be implemented. This is because Resolution 1344 requires a full month’s gap between when the public consultation period ends and when the CWG-Internet meets.
Please note that there was no resolution or decision related to this. Instead, there was simply informal acknowledgement that the Secretary-General will do something to encourage non-government stakeholder involvement in the existing open consultation process.
When is the next opportunity to open the CWG-Internet?
We now have to wait until the next ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14), 20 October-7 November 2014, for Member States to consider whether or not to open the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) to non-government stakeholders.
What can non-government stakeholders do in the meantime?
- Ask your government to allow you to be part of its delegation to CWG-Internet meetings. This is in keeping with the Secretary-General’s statement on a multiple occasions that multistakeholderism can occur in ITU through multistakeholder composition of Member State delegations.
- Ask your government to share the CWG-Internet documents with you. If you’re particularly public-spirited, be one of the lovely souls who sends them to WCITleaks so others can read them, too.
- Respond to the CWG-Internet online consultations. As of the time of writing this blog, only four responses have been received to the public consultation first announced in January. That’s less than one submission per month. Closing date for submissions is 1 August 2013. Respond, people!
More detail on what happened at ITU Council 2013
I have a habit of writing too much for a single blog post, so below are links to smaller sections, containing summaries and analysis on the CWG-Internet discussions that happened at ITU Council 2013: