Mid way through the Plenipotentiary and all delegations are deep into Ad Hocs and informal groups negotiating consensus texts, sometimes with progress, but often without. As always the Internet issues remain contentious with virtually no prospect of consensus. Other issues seem able to be negotiated to some sort of resolution; I understand the issues of the ITRs (WCIT) have reached agreement, even flight tracking is said to be done, but plenty of others are showing slow progress. The issues surrounding conformance and counterfeit goods are likely to reach agreement, and the budget, well there is no option but to find a way before this conference ends.
This is just a sample of the hundreds of issues within the larger issues that are tried and challenged as the hundreds of delegates actively participating work through proposals line by line.
As the real work of the Conference began it almost immediately became impossible for smaller delegations to cover the number of meetings and discussions to track what is going on, much less try to influence them. The Plenipot is definitely a team sport and the bigger your team, the more likely you are to kick goals.
Internet Governance blog Lingua Synaptica has tracked the number of discussions and Ad Hoc groups that have been formed off the Working Group of the Plenary. While the Committees looking at administrative and budgetary matters have not sprouted quite the number of sub-groups as this, it quickly becomes difficult to manage. Each delegation works by assigning issues and resolutions to individuals who are expected to follow discussions on a sub-set of the morass, but even that strategy is defeated by concurrent sessions on similar topics. Although administrations repeatedly ask the Secretariat not to schedule similar topics at conflicting times it becomes impossible for them, although some conspiracy theorists suggest it is deliberate.
So delegates ultimately get to the point where they need to be in two places at once and working for more than 12 hours a day in sessions as well as having delegation meetings outside those hours, doing their own preparation, eating, and sometimes sleeping. They have little option but to perform triage, share information with other delegations and hope that none of their ‘red lies’ get crossed while they are not in the room. Bringing up an issue after it has been resolved is considered poor form and is only done in desperation or arrogance.
And so it was on Wednesday of week two – halfway through the conference with what is probably more than half of the real work still ahead of us. Two sessions began in the evening. The first at 17:30 regarding Resolution 174: “ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues relating to the risk of illicit use of information and communication technologies” and the Ad Hoc Group on Internet Related Matters looking at Resolution 102: “ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses”. Delegations without multiple specialists simply had to choose which resolution was more important to them. These tough decisions will become more frequent and probably more difficult in the next several days before all the work is completed.
RESOLUTION 174: “ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues relating to the risk of illicit use of information and communication technologies”
RESOLUTION 102: “ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses”
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