Organization: ITU (most popular articles)

ITU is the International Telecommunication Union and is the semi-autonomous arm of the United Nations that has traditionally dealt with telecommunications (including radio spectrum, satellite orbits, telco standards and telecoms infrastructure).

The ITU is an inter-governmental body created in 1865 and based in Geneva. In recent years it has allowed for some involvement from business and other stakeholders.

Most recent ITU articles | Most popular ITU articles

27 February 2013




Ten years ago, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005 for the first and second phases of the World Summit on the Information Society adopted a common vision of the Information Society, identified its key principles and outlined the main challenges towards an Information Society for All based on shared Knowledge.

15 December 2012

It was both very fast and painfully slow. The key moments

Iran forces a vote, and presages the end of WCIT. Credit: ITU

One thing that everyone could agree on in the build-up to the World Conference on International Telecommunications was that anything could happen during the two weeks in Dubai.

The logic of forcing the world's governments into a box to rewrite a global treaty that has stood for 24 years in just 14 days may be questionable, but it definitely creates an event and along with that moments that stand out and set the general tone and atmosphere of the meeting itself.

Here are that main ones from WCIT 2012:


Opening ceremony

14 December 2012

A great deal of ink has been spilt in recent weeks outlining threats to Internet governance from changes to a global telecommunications treaty negotiation that just concluded in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), including an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that inelegantly compared government bureaucrats to gorillas.

While important, the focus on WCIT has detracted attention from another set of United Nations deliberations that wrapped this week in New York, with potentially far greater consequences than the haggling of 1,500 delegates in the under-ventilated halls of the Dubai World Trade Center.

Waiting for WSIS

The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee has spent the last month quietly crafting the process that will lead to a ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10). The last WSIS concluded in 2005 and set the stage for many of the current debates around the role for government in Internet policy, including at WCIT.

13 December 2012

ITU forced to face modern realities as WCIT conference implodes

Having turned industries and governments upside down, the Internet has claimed its first organizational scalp, subjecting the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to a humiliating failure at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai earlier today.

No sooner had applause run out after a vote on what to include in the preamble to an updated global telecoms treaty than the United States took the floor and announced it would not sign it.

"It's with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the U.S. must communicate that it's not able to sign the agreement in the current form," said Ambassador Terry Kramer. "The Internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefit during these past 24 years. All without UN regulation. We candidly cannot support an ITU Treaty that is inconsistent with the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance."

12 December 2012

Vote taboo broken at WCIT as chair asks for "feel of the room"

Moment of the non-vote vote at 1am. Credit: Dominique Lazanski

Fears that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will award itself a role in governance of the Internet, despite the promises of its Secretary-General, are looming large on the last day of the World Teleconference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).

At the end of a confusing and fast-paced day of discussions yesterday, the issue that has haunted for the conference for the past six months finally exploded into the open with discussion of a new proposed resolution that would see the ITU "play an active and constructive role" in deciding the evolution of the global communications network.

12 December 2012

>> CHAIR: ...
We go now to the primary draft resolution to foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet. This resolution has been also part of the long discussion and the -- with the Regional groups and this was part of the compromise text that was put forward to you but the meeting was carefully written. It was -- we have taken it in the group, line-by-line, as a matter of fact as a matter of fact, Secretary-General read it line-by-line to the group, and it's put before you for consideration.
I'll proceed with the title. I see no objection. Recognizing A. I see no objection. Recognizing B. Thank you.
Recognizing C. Thank you.
Recognizing D.
>> EGYPT: Yes, we would like to suggest another text for D that reads the following: "Recognizing that the existing arrangements for Internet Governance have worked effectively to make the Internet the highly robust, dynamic and geographically diverse medium it is today, with the private sector taking the lead in day-to-day operation and with innovation and value creation at the edges."
This is paragraph 55 from the Tunis agenda. .
>> CHAIR: Bulgaria?

12 December 2012
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Half a million and counting...

More than a half a million people have signed an online petition calling on the ITU to reign in proposals that would given governments greater control over the Internet.

The 500,000 benchmark was reached at 7pm local time while attendees to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai reconvened for a night session where they hope to reach agreement on most changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

12 December 2012

Proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks, the ITU embraced multi-stakeholderism today, as the picture below proves.

Forming a huddle in order to find a suitably worded fudge and so prevent Saudi Arabia from stamping its foot any harder, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure found himself discussing a solution to an impasse over wording by taking views from civil society (Wolfgang Kleinwacher) and business (Marilyn Cade) as well as a number of government representatives.

And following the grand tradition of multistakeholderism, the end result was a semantic fudge that makes no real sense, added additional words, could not be practically applied, and left everyone uncertain as to what it actually means. ICANN's CEO is said to be preparing a congratulatory email.

Coming out of the huddle, Toure told us he felt energized by the whole experience. "Normally I would just tell anyone who was not a government representative an unrelated story, or a mildly sexist African proverb and hope they were suitably confused to stop asking questions," he told us.

11 December 2012

Key concern of WCIT conference lives on

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is seeking to give itself a role in Internet governance, despite strong resistance and an earlier promise by its Secretary-General that it would not do so.

According to draft text of a revised version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), being discussed currently at the WCIT conference in Dubai, the ITU would take an "active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet". The draft resolution also notes that "all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance".

Additionally, a proposed new article 3.8 argues that countries should have the choice to opt-out of the global Internet addressing system and "be able to manage the naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used within their territories".

11 December 2012

Chair leads even smaller group of regional representatives in crunch talks

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) is going dark with just one day left to rewrite the international telecommunication regulations (ITRs) and a number of significant issues remaining unresolved.

Despite 1,700 participants representing 189 different countries and organizations, large sections of the text will be decided by a group of 24 regional representatives this afternoon.

The decision to call the closed meeting, without many of the issues ever having been discussed in plenary sessions, has been a conscious strategy adopted by the chair and ITU throughout the meeting.

But while that approach has kept embarrassing public fights to a minimum, it also raises serious questions over the ITU's processes and ability to act a global convener and resolver of modern telecoms issues, particularly when it comes to the Internet.