LACNIC’s Thoughts on WCIT
The World Conference on International Telecommunications of the International Telecommunication Union, also known as WCIT, has finally come to an end.
After more than a year’s work on analyzing proposals, talking to governments and participating in preparatory discussions, the conclusion of this meeting leaves us with mixed feelings.
On a positive note, plenary sessions were broadcast over the Internet and thus provided an opportunity for thousands of people around the world to follow the discussions live.
On the negative side, it must be noted that several key sessions were restricted to government representatives and did not allow the presence of any observers, not even ITU sector members (non-government members). In addition, confusing voting procedures that did not contribute to transparency or to the search for consensus were followed on important issues such as the Resolution on Internet topics.
As an intergovernmental body, the ITU and/or its member states have the right to restrict participation, but it is clear that these practices are not consistent with the Information Society’s terms nor with the demands for transparency and openness expressed by multiple stakeholders. Those organizations that do not evolve towards a more open and participatory model risk having their legitimacy questioned in the near future. Those such as LACNIC who actively participate in Internet discussions both at regional as well as at global level sincerely hope that the ITU will show signs of greater openness in the future, as this will undoubtedly result in greater involvement of all stakeholders.
Given the fact that the International Telecommunication Regulations had not been modified since 1988, promoting their update is understandable. LACNIC believes that the agreed text for the new treaty is very reasonable and acceptable; notwithstanding, we would like to express our opinion that items 5A and 5B, which deal with Security and Unsolicited Communications, should not have been included in the treaty, as they do not add any significant aspects to the agreement and, in addition, the ambiguity of their wording might result in countries with a weak tradition of respect for human rights using them as a way to legitimize restrictions on Internet freedoms.
It is important to reaffirm our organization’s conviction that, although we strongly believe that governments and international organizations should be active participants in Internet Governance, according to the letter and the spirit of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) are not the proper environment to address Internet related issues.
Latin American and Caribbean countries analyzed and assessed the outcome of the conference and this led some countries, within their full right, to assume a favorable position while others did not. However, in our opinion, what should be stressed is the fact that both those who supported the new treaty and those who disagreed with it did so basing their positions on the same principles of freedom, openness, no Internet control, and supporting the importance of the multistakeholder model.
If there is an aspect of WCIT that is positive for our region, it is the reaffirmation of our countries’ commitment to the principles that have been the core values that have allowed the Internet to become a platform for the economic and human development of our society and a catalyst for the exercise of human rights.
LACNIC would like to express its full agreement with this vision as well as its commitment to continue to work permanently with all Latin American and Caribbean Internet stakeholders for the benefit of Internet development and stability in our region.