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WCIT WATCH: Day 5 Roundup

3:06pm | 7 December 2012 | by Deborah Brown,

DUBAI -- Some Friday surprises amidst grueling negotiations.

Just as delegates started to agree on something in Friday’s plenary--that they were frustrated that negotiations were not leading anywhere--the UAE made a surprise announcement. There is a new multi-regional proposal containing a fully revised treaty that no one has seen.

The delegates were visibly and understandably shaken. Both Iran and the U.S. took the floor to suppress the mystery proposal on procedural grounds and a number of other delegations made strong statements condemning it as disruptive to ongoing negotiations. The UAE then revealed that it wasn’t a new proposal after all, but a compilation of various existing proposals into a new full version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). Because the proposal simply draws from existing submissions, it cannot be dismissed on procedural grounds. But when, everyone including the Chair asked, would the proposal be revealed?

The UAE committed to submitting it later in the day, so that it could be debated in a meeting on Monday. The problem is that negotiations on virtually every issue are ongoing and the treaty text should be finalized by Wednesday in order to allow for translation into the UN’s six official languages and for sign off to be approved back in the world’s capitals. As of Friday evening Dubai time, there is still no sign of the document in question. Nonetheless the new multi-regional proposal is slated to be debated in Monday’s plenary session, which can be viewed by webcast here.

Another surprise in Friday’s plenary was a joint submission by Brazil, Cyprus, Hungary, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, 
Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Tunisia to include new human rights language in the treaty. They propose to add the following sentence - “While implementing these Regulations Member States shall take into account their international obligations in relation to universal human rights” - to the preamble of the treaty. A few countries moved to suppress the inclusion of human rights for reasons of substance and procedure, citing Tuesday’s discussion as settling the matter, but the chair ultimately decided to defer it to Monday’s plenary as well.

The last piece of excitement from Friday’s plenary was the WCIT’s decision to include a provision in the ITRs on special measures for landlocked countries, which would encourage governments to cooperate to increase access to international telecommunication.

The key issues of security, definitions, and routing were also discussed on Friday, but without notable progress.

The small civil society contingent is beginning to take on a more visible role at WCIT. Civil society has secured a meeting with ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré for Monday.

Additionally, in response to an anticipated attack on the ITU’s website that is expected to take place this weekend, members of civil society issued a statement calling on all to refrain from any possible disruptions, hacks or attacks on the ITU website and its related domains, as such effort will be counterproductive, and will hugely disenfranchise remote participants. You can view the statement here and tweet it using #WCIT12.

WCIT meetings will continue through the weekend. Check the Access blog for more WCIT WATCH updates. For analysis of key issues and positions being debated see What to Watch at WCIT, and for information visit Access’s ITU page.

More:

WCIT Watch: Day 3&4
WCIT Watch: Day 2
WCIT Watch: Day 1
WCIT Watch: Committee Breakdown
Access ITU Resource Page