14 December 2012

NRO Observations on WCIT-12 process

The Number Resource Organization, representing the world’s five Regional Internet address Registries, issues the following statement from Dubai, the site of the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications. The conference has clearly not met expectations of many ITU Member States, and with this unfortunate outcome now clear, we feel compelled to put the following observations on record.

The Number Resource Organization is concerned about aspects of the WCIT-12 meetings, which have just ended in Dubai, particularly with events in the last days of the conference.  Neither the content of this conference, nor its conduct during this critical final period, have met community expectations or satisfied public assurances given prior to the event.

Internet stakeholders around the world watched the WCIT preparations closely, and were hopeful, throughout those processes, of two things: that WCIT would have no bearing on the Internet, its governance or its content; and that the event would allow all voices to be heard.  The ITU Secretary General himself made these assurances on multiple occasions, and reiterated them in his opening remarks to the conference.

Regrettably, expected WCIT discussions on traditional telecommunication issues were eclipsed by debates about Internet-related issues. The intensity and length of these debates revealed clearly the depth of genuine concern about the proposals, and also the determination of those who brought them to the meeting.

Perhaps more importantly, an open multi-stakeholder conduct of the WCIT conference did not eventuate. Plenary sessions of the conference were webcast, but contributions were allowed only from official Government delegates and ITU officials, relegating all other stakeholders to an observer role.

Furthermore, an important number of critical negotiations occurred in small groups accessible only to Member States; and key experts and other stakeholders were unable even to observe them.

The NRO strongly supports the principles established in 2005 by the World Summit on the Information Society, which call for Internet Governance to be carried out in a multi-stakeholder manner, and we note that these represent the view of the global community as expressed through the UN system itself.

The NRO has also participated in many ITU conferences and study groups over the years, at very substantial cost, in genuine efforts to build relationships between our communities and to demonstrate the value of multi-stakeholder cooperation and collaboration.  The NRO will continue to participate in the ITU, itself a member of the UN system, in expectation that its processes can evolve visibly, and much more rapidly, towards these accepted principles.

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