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Sixteenth Meeting of the ITU Council Working Group on WSIS

Posted by ISOC.BG News on February 12, 2010

Report from 2-4 February 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

Purpose of the meeting

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held during 2006 in Antalya (PP-06) has adopted Resolution 140 on ITU’s role in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), simultaneously requesting the ITU Council to maintain its Working Group on WSIS (WG-WSIS) in order to facilitate membership input and guidance on the implementation of relevant WSIS outcomes and to elaborate proposals to ITU Council for adapting ITU to its role in building the information society as need arises.

In 2009 a Dedicated Group (DG) on international Internet-related public policy issues was established as an integral part of WG-WSIS, open to all Member States in accordance with Resolution 75 (WTSA, 2008) and Council resolution 1282 (Mod. 2008). The said Dedicated Group was mandated to contribute to the work of WG-WSIS pursuant to the relevant Resolution 102 of ITU PP-06 and to ITU Council Resolutions (C08-1282 and C09-1305).
In order to carry out the above-mentioned mandates, the Sixteenth Meeting of WG-WSIS was convened from 2 to 4 February 2010 in ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

Observations

The interest of ITU Member States Administrations to participate at both this meeting and at the adjacent to it meeting of the DG was high, however the ITU Secretariat has provided list of participants for this WG-WSIS meeting only.

At the WG-WSIS meeting forty three ITU Member State Administrations were represented by 85 participants as well as seven entities were represented by 12 participants. Said entities included Mrs Constance Bommelaer as the only representative of Internet Society (ISOC). No other civil society organizations were present. In total fifty entities have delegated 97 participants.

The meeting was chaired by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Minkin of the Russian Federation, co-chaired by Mr. Frederick Riehl (Switzerland) and Mr. Majed Al Mazyed (Saudi Arabia).

Three elected ITU officials did attend: Mr. Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary General together with Mr. Sami Al Basheer Al Morchid, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau and Mr. Malcolm Johnson, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

Total of 16 documents have inspired active discussions.

Mr. Houlin Zhao, Deputy Secretary-General and Chairman of ITU WSIS Task Force, welcomed the participants and drew attention to the key upcoming ITU events having the power to define the future of ITU’s strategic role in the WSIS process, including ITU Council 2010, 13-22 April; the WSIS Forum 2010, 10-14 May and the WTDC 2010, 24 May to 4 June. Mr. Zhao underlined that several significant initiatives and activities were carried out in 2009 by the three Sectors of the Union (Standardization, Radio communication and the Development) and by the General Secretariat. All of them have been effectively coordinated. He stated that in 2010 ITU is going to dedicate significant efforts in order to exercise its role as mandated by the WSIS by simultaneously engaging several strategic partnerships dedicated to the implementation of the WSIS outcomes. The Task Force held two brainstorming meetings with the aim of developing concrete plan of actions for 2010. With reference to the WSIS Forum 2010, he reported on the progress of the open consultation process. Moreover, Mr. Zhao took the opportunity to announce the official launch of new WSIS Stocktaking platform, which has been transformed from static database into an interactive collaborative space for all relevant WSIS stakeholders.
The meeting also welcomed Mr. Fernando Borjón Figueroa, Ministry of Communications and Transportation, Mexico, Chairman of the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference PP-10, who provided a short brief on the preparations carried-out for it.
The ITU General Secretariat has presented five information documents as follows:

Document WG-WSIS 16/9 (all documents are at the ITU WG on WSIS site, a password is required to have access to them, therefore we can not publish direct links to them here) providing extensive report on the progress made in relation to the WSIS implementation and follow-up by the General Secretariat and all three Sectors of the Union;

Document WG-WSIS-16/15 reported, that taking into account of the open consultation process with WSIS Stakeholders, the ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP and UNESCO have decided jointly to cluster series of related meetings into WSIS FORUM, scheduled to be held from 10 to 14 May 2010 at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This Forum will offer participants a series of diverse interactions, including high-level debates addressing critical issues to the WSIS implementation and follow-up in multi-stakeholder set-ups, WSIS Action Line facilitation meetings, thematic workshops, kick-off meetings for new initiatives and projects, speed-exchanges facilitating networking among the participants, and others. The forum is intended to provide structured opportunities to network, learn and to participate in multi-stakeholder discussions and consultations on WSIS implementation. Mr. Zhao took the opportunity to announce an official launch of new WSIS Stocktaking platform which has been transformed from static database into collaborative space for all WSIS stakeholders;

Document WG-WSIS-16/4 did report on extensive ITU participation at the Fourth Internet Governance Forum in Sharmel-Sheikh, Egypt, 15-18 November 2010. This report highlighted:

a) the better awareness and understanding of ITU related activities in the areas of critical Internet resources, accessibility, climate change and cybersecurity; and that
b) the representatives from all stakeholder groups – Governments, other IGOs, Private Sector and Civil Society have expressed interest in working with ITU in the above areas, especially in capacity building initiatives.

The meeting agreed to task the Dedicated Group to consider further this document; and Document WG-WSIS 16/8 reported that ITU continues to work on the WSIS Stocktaking process providing the means for sharing of information related to the implementation of the WSIS outcomes. The WSIS Stocktaking was initiated during the Tunis phase of WSIS and it has become since than an effective tool for exchange of information on projects and initiatives related to the implementation of the 11 Action Lines. By January 2010, there are more than 4000 entries in the WSIS Stocktaking database: 55% of them originate from Governments, 28% from International Organizations, 11% from Civil Society and 5% from the Private Sector. More than half of the entries focus on activities carried out in partnerships. This Report is highlighting that many of entries reflect more than one initiative and/or project implemented by the WSIS Stakeholders. Finally this Report provided information about the mid term review of the progress made in terms of the WSIS implementation for the activities being initiated in 2009, inclusive the monitoring of activities carried out by the International Organizations as well as the preparation of report on e-Strategies and WSIS implementation mechanisms, based on information provided by the Governments.

The Group appreciated the presentation of said documents and has made some proposals and recommendations as follows:
– Regarding the WSIS activities carried out by the three Sectors and General Secretariat it was suggested to evaluate related financial implications;
– With reference to “Connect the World” initiative the Member States requested additional information and inputs on the impact and evaluation of the regional Connect Summits. It was underlined that it is necessary to demonstrate the large-scale impact generated by these actions openly to the general public;
– With reference to said document WG-WSIS-16/4 the ITU Secretariat informed that the Union’s intention was to use and apply the set of recommendations and conclusions contained in this Report. It was recommended to submit this document to the next ITU Council for further consideration.
– With reference to document WG-WSIS 16/8 it was suggested that the second phase of the WSIS Stocktaking project should focus on developments of specific features serving the purposes of monitoring and implementation of the road maps for WSIS Action Lines C2, C5 and C6 and that intermediate reports should be produced for this purpose. It was also recommended that the focus of the second phase should be directed towards both the analysis and the lessons learned. To the extent possible, an analysis of the financial engagement by the stakeholders should also be integrated into the said platform.

Some delegations have recognized the important role the ITU is playing in Internet related public policy. However, as they considered that there are many other international organizations involved in Internet Governance related issues, including ICANN, the work of ITU in this area must be consistent with the Purposes of the Union, and the ITU should undertake active collaboration with those organizations to minimize the potential for duplication in order to avoid dissipating limited resources.

Some other delegations noted that there are not so many International Organizations involved in the Internet Governance related issues.

Some delegations (mainly from developing countries) emphasized that they are paying the full cost of Internet connections (lease or buying) while they are used free of charge by developed countries (sort of cross-subsidy from developing to developed countries). Furthermore they have underlined the misuse by hackers and crackers of such free circuits for sending spam, botnet attacks, malware, etc via Internet with resulting negative consequences to Internet users.

With regard to the ITU’s activities in the WSIS facilitation, implementation and follow-up pertaining to Resolution 140 (Antalya, 2006) three documents originating from the ITU were presented as follows:
– Document WG-WSIS-16/9 reported on the ITU’s activities related to WSIS implementation and follow-up for year 2009;
– Document WG-WSIS-16/20 reflected a proposal for a draft Roadmap on the implementation of WSIS Action Line C6; and
– Document WG-WSIS-16/21 reported on the ITU Development Sector major activities on the implementation of WSIS Action Line C2 and reflected a proposal for new Web Gateway and update of the Roadmap on the implementation of WSIS Action Line C2.

The WG-WSIS appreciated the said three contributions and made important recommendations summarized as follows:
– With reference to Action Lines C2 and C6 the meeting highlighted the need for developing schemes and innovative methods towards resource mobilization for consistent funding of the ICT infrastructure deployment;
– With reference to Action Line C5 the meeting has underlined that the cybersecurity is one of the most important items to be discussed at the WTDC-10 and the PP-10; and
– Additional information was requested to be provided on the participation of the ITU Secretary General at the World Economic Forum, 27-31 January 2010, Davos, Switzerland.

Two documents were considered originating from the Russian Federation, namely:
– Document WG-WSIS-16/3 was presented by the representative of Russia. This document proposed a format for preparation of the report and corresponding headings for the WG-WSIS output report to Council-10 and PP-10.
– Document WG-WSIS-16/3 proposed a format for preparation of dedicated report and corresponding headings for the output report WG-WSIS to Council-10 and correspondingly to the PP-10.
– Document WG-WSIS-16/14 highlighted the future ITU role as a potential initiator of WSIS+10 Summit in 2015 and as continuous leading player in corresponding Executive Secretariat of the said future Summit and relevant preparatory process provided that United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) supports WSIS 2015.

The WG-WSIS has agreed in principle with the said proposal for the structure, composition and terminology to be used in the WG-WSIS Report, but a need was identified for further discussions defining the Report’s outline. It was also agreed that the Report should identify the key questions for consideration by relevant Plenipotentiary Conference after PP-10.

The WG-WSIS has appreciated the objectives defined in document WG-WSIS-16/14 and agreed that the said issues should be discused further with corresponding decision should be adopted at PP-10 at the latest. Furthermore some ITU Member State Administrations proposed to organize high-level meeting in conjunction with PP-14 with the aim of analyzing the ITU’s results achieved towards the implementation of the WSIS outcomes and the potential ITU actions thereafter.

Document WG-WSIS-16/7, outlining the concept and approach of ITU rebranding, was presented by the representative of Malaysia. This contribution has brought forward innovative ideas for the future ITU and was commended by the Working Group, however for the time being there was no agreement reached on the subject of possible ITU rebranding and restructuring. The WG-WSIS have agreed that more concrete proposals need to be elaborated and discussed within ITU membership. Towards this objective the Member states were encouraged to submit contributions to the WG-WSIS’s next meeting.

The second day of the meeting was assigned to consideration of the Report of the Dedicated Group of the WG-WSIS on the International Internet-related Public Policy issues is contained in Annex 1 to the WG-WSIS Chairman’s final Report (WG-WSIS-16/24). The Chairman of the Dedicated Group Mr. M.Al Mazyed (Saudi Arabia) has informed the WG-WSIS on the results achieved during the DG meeting’s deliberations.
The WG-WSIS has taken note of it.

The ITU General Secretariat has submitted further two contributions, namely:
Document WG-WSIS-16/16 summarizing the main results of preceding six WG-WSIS meetings after PP-06 aimed at fostering comments and contributions by ITU Member States for final review of the matter and reporting to the PP-10; and
Document WG-WSIS-16/17 contained a proposal for draft framework of WSIS+5 as requested by the ITU Council 2009.

The WG-WSIS appreciated both contributions and agreed on the procedure to be followed in pursuing the elaboration of relevant WSIS+5 Report.

The WG-WSIS has agreed that a database of contributions submitted to WG-WSIS should be prepared prior to next meeting of WG-WSIS.

The WG-WSIS has agreed in principle that the next WG-WSIS meeting should be held in June 2010 aiming at clustering it with other ITU Council Working Groups meetings. The Secretariat was requested to set-up the exact dates thereafter.

The Summary of this meeting was posted on the ITU Web site as Document WG-WSIS-16/23.

In his closing address the Chairman has thanked the contributing authors, the membership participants and in particular the ITU Secretariat for the efficient assistance provided.

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