[Update] Report from the ITU Council 2016:
In between ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences, which are held every four years, ITU’s 48 Council members meet once a year to make decisions on behalf of ITU's full membership of 193 Member States. [See: ITU Council members, 2014-2018]. At Plenipotentiary Conferences, all Member States can participate on an equal footing. At Council Sessions, non-Council Member States are able to speak, but not until all Council members have first had the opportunity to take the floor. In addition, non-Council members may only take the floor once per agenda item.
Key issues discussed at the ITU Council 2016
ITU rebuilding work
To address the issue that two of ITU’s three buildings, the Tower and Varembe, will not meet Swiss safety, health and environmental standards as of 2017, following a number of options explored by the Council Working Group on Headquarters Premises (CWG-HQP), the Council agreed to sell the Tower and replace the Varembe with a bigger building that is to accommodate the functions currently performed by both the existing Varembé and Tower buildings. Completion of building work is expected by 2023.
The rebuilding work on the ITU headquarters are part of a larger set of rebuilding activities in Geneva:
- WTO inaugurated the last phase of its building work – an annex – in 2013
- WIPO inaugurated its new hall in 2014
- Beginning in 2017 with a target completion date of 2023, there will also be extensive renovations to the Palais des Nations.
WSIS and SDGs
To take into account the UN General Assembly resolutions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the WSIS+10 review, the Council updated its main resolution on WSIS (Resolution 1332) and suppressed Resolution 1334 (on ITU’s role in the 10-year overall review of WSIS). Rather than creating a new, separate resolution on the SDGs, the updated Resolution 1332 incorporates the relevant activities that ITU and its members can perform to support the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Agenda.
There was also a request for clarification about the legal status of the two outcome documents from the WSIS+10 preparatory meeting hosted by ITU in 2014, the WSIS+10 High Level Event. The ITU Secretariat is to provide information about whether these two documents, which were inputs to the overall UN General Assembly review of the WSIS process in 2015, are also documents with ongoing status in the ITU environment.
There is no Sustainable Development Goal directly related to ICTs; however the use of technology to support the implementation of the SDGs is seen as a crucial element. During the Council, it was noted that at least two governments may request that the UN General Assembly include a new, 18th SDG on ICTs.
Council agreed to instruct the Council Working Group on International Internet-Related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) to produce brief summaries of CWG’s Open Online Consultation and Physical Open Consultation Meetings. The summaries of both the written and physical consultations are to be written by the Secretariat, agreed to by stakeholders present at the physical open consultation meetings, and then included as annexes to the reports of the Chair of the CWG-Internet. The next open consultation, which is accepting written submissions until 2 September, is on the topic of 'Building an enabling environment for access to the Internet'.
Expert Group on International Telecommunication Regulations (EG-ITRs)
The Council established an Expert Group to conduct a review of the 2012 ITRs, including a legal analysis, and analyse any potential conflicts between the obligations of signatories to the 2012 ITRs and signatories to the 1988 ITRs with respect to implementation of the provisions of the 1988 and the 2012 ITRs. The EG-ITRs is to meet during the weeks set aside for Council Working Group meetings in 2017 and 2018 and to report on its work at the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai.
The 2012 ITRs, developed at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), were signed by 89 of the ITU’s 193 Member States in Dubai. Since 2012, five member states have acceded to, ratified, or approved the 2012 ITRs.
International Numbering Resources
In the wake of some of the ITU’s Member States reducing their levels of financial contribution to the ITU during the 2014 Plenipotentiary, the ITU has been looking for ways to recoup operational costs and identify new sources of revenue. One option that has been under discussion is to increase the one-off fee, or begin charging annual fees for International Numbering Resources. This has proved a difficult topic to solve, with Member States agreeing to send the issue back to the Council Working Group on Financial and Human Resources (CWG-FHR) for further discussion, with a proposal to be submitted to Council 2017. This discussion is to include possibly identification of alternative sources of revenue generation.
Digital Object Architecture and the DONA MoU
The Digital Object Architecture (DOA) is one of a variety of information management architectures that conforms to the 2013 ITU Standard X.1255, Framework for discovery of identity management information. ITU uses it internally within its own document management system and in 2014, signed an agreement with the DONA Foundation, which in simplistic terms, is the administration and registration coordination body for DOA’s digital objects. Since the signing of the MoU, there has been much discussion amongst Member States about whether the secretariat had the authority to sign an MoU without consulting Member States first as well as varied interpretations about what DOA can do for Member States. At Council 2016, Member States agreed that the MoU would stand. However, given some Member States view DOA as an alternative to IP addressing, domain names, and even Internet routing architecture, this is a topic likely to continue generating debate in ITU, as well as beyond, for some time.
The 2016 session of the ITU Council is taking place from 25 May to 2 June 2016 at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Registration will open in March 2016.
The ITU Council acts as the ITU's governing body in the interval between Plenipotentiary Conferences. Its role is to consider broad telecommunication policy issues to ensure that the Union's activities, policies and strategies fully respond to today's dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunications environment.
The ITU Council also prepares a report on the policy and strategic planning of the ITU and is responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the Union, coordinating work programmes, approving budgets and controlling finances and expenditure. The Council also takes all steps to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the ITU Constitution, the ITU Convention, the Administrative Regulations (International Telecommunications Regulations and Radio Regulations), and the decisions of Plenipotentiary Conferences and; where appropriate, the decisions of other conferences and meetings of the Union.
For updates, visit the ITU Council's website.