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IGF 2012 Workshop Proposal :: (No: 140) The International Telecommunication Regulations and Internet Governance: Multistakeholder Perspectives


IGF Theme(s) for workshop: Managing Critical Internet Resources

Main theme question address by workshop: All five CIR questions but especially no. 4. Also some Taking Stock questions.

Concise description of the proposed workshop:

The International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) are a binding treaty that was negotiated at an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference in 1988. The ITRs combined and updated the treaties regulating the international telegraph and telephone services, the former of which dated back to 1865. For 123 years, the predecessor agreements had codified foundational principles for the evolutionary development and interconnection of networks and the management of charging and settlements payments for traffic flows subject to the mutual agreement of states. After an unprecedentedly contentious negotiation over the proper balance between monopoly and competition and the pending establishment of international trade agreements for telecommunications services, the 1988 conference agreed new ITRs that eased the transition to a liberalized, multi-provider environment (which, in turn, helped spur the global development and commercialization of the Internet).

In the late 1990s, ITU members began to debate whether and how the ITRs should be revised to better reflect the contemporary global marketplace, including the burgeoning growth of Internet services. Expert groups, working groups, and discussions in various ITU bodies ensued, and it was ultimately decided that a World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) would be convened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 3-14 December 2012 to review and revise the ITRs.

During the preparatory process, some member governments have made a number of proposals pertaining to the definition of telecommunications services and providers, name and number resources, traffic management and interconnection, costs and accounting and settlements, quality of service, spam and malware, security, and other issues that, if adopted, could directly impact the Internet. In short, depending on the details, the ITRs could become a broad-based multilateral treaty that includes strong elements of global Internet governance.

To date, the debate over the ITRs largely has been conducted as an internal ITU matter. A great many Internet stakeholders do not participate in the ITU, do not have access to the documents under discussion, and may not fully understand how the ITRs work or could matter to them. And while there recently has been a spate of news articles on the matter in the popular press and blogosphere, generally these have been too substantively thin and stylistically alarmist to advance sober evaluation and public understanding.

Accordingly, the purpose of the proposed workshop is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders from around the world to hear about the nature of the ITRs, what is being proposed and why, and what the consequences could be for Internet governance. This objective is precisely consistent with the IGF’s mandate, inter alia, to: interface with appropriate intergovernmental organizations on matters under their purview; strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms; and identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public.

In order to present an informed and balanced discussion, the panel will comprise an internationally diverse, multistakeholder group of experts from both inside and outside the preparatory process who hold varying positions on the proposals under consideration. The format will blend both brief prepared remarks and interactive dialogue around specific focal points to be agreed by the panelists in advance via online discussion. Caution will be exercised to ensure that the session is conducted in an appropriate manner. It will be made clear that this an informational dialogue with no connection to processes outside the IGF; and, as needed, that the speakers are participating in an informal capacity rather than representing official positions.

Background Paper:


Name of the organiser(s) of the workshop and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups:

Media Change and Innovation Division, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland [Academic/Civil Society]

The Internet Society [Multistakeholder]

with the co-sponsorship of:

Association for Progressive Communications [Civil Society]

Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University
China [Academic/Civil Society]

Oxford Internet Institute [Academic/Civil Society]

Others [TBD]

Have you, or any of your co-organisers, organised an IGF workshop before?: Yes

Please provide link(s) to workshop(s) or report(s):

Provide the names and affiliations of the panellists you are planning to invite:

Mr. Markus Kummer [Moderator]
Vice President of Public Policy, The Internet Society

Virat Bhatia [TBC]
President, IEA, South Asia, AT&T

William J. Drake
International Fellow & Lecturer
Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Anriette Esterhuysen
Executive Director, Association for Progressive Communications
South Africa

Alexander Kushtuev [TBC]
Rostelecom Representative in Switzerland

A representative of the Brazilian government [TBD]

A representative of the International Telecommunication Union [TBC]

Additional international organization, government, civil society, and technical community representatives [TBD]


Name of Remote Moderator(s):

Olivier Crepin-Leblond, Chair of ICANN At Large Committee France


United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678