APNIC’s long-standing engagement with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is based on the shared goal to assist developing economies.
As a Sector Member of the ITU’s Development Bureau (D-Sector), APNIC participated in the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17), focusing on areas relevant to our Members such as IPv6 and cybersecurity, and supporting initiatives such as building capacity in the region and supporting infrastructure development.
This event was the latest in a growing history of interactions APNIC has had with the UN agency. APNIC staff have participated in ITU’s world conferences and other events for almost ten years. The organization and many of the Member States accept APNIC’s involvement, and are able to recognize the important role it plays in the management of the Internet and the assistance it offers to developing nations in the Asia Pacific.
It wasn’t always that way. At first, the relationship was quite adversarial and sometimes, it still is. However, over the years I have seen the ITU open up a little and become more accepting of non-governmental points of views, such as from the technical community, in its deliberations.
Being a D-Sector member gives APNIC the right to participate in the development conference and to attend the plenipotentiary conference as an observer.
At the last WTDC, APNIC spoke and participated in the consensus of the conference, particularly on resolutions discussing IPv6. Of course, APNIC would not be able to vote if any dispute was resolved that way as decision-making is always made by government representatives. It’s not a great model for multistakeholderism, but at WTDC-17, APNIC was generally accepted as a stakeholder from the technical community.
When the APNIC Executive Council made the initial decision to become an ITU Sector Member in 2003, the move was seen as questionable by some in the technical community. The ITU was seen as an Internet antagonist and a danger to the multistakeholder stewardship of the Internet. Some argued that by joining the organization as a member, it added credibility to the UN organization’s desire to control the Internet.
For APNIC, it meant access to a community of important regulators, government officials from the Asia Pacific region, and ITU staff. And many of them have been welcoming. Over time, other Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) have become ITU Sector Members and now four of the five RIRs are a member of either the D-Sector or the standardization (ITU-T) Sector.
By engaging with the ITU, we have been able to better understand the objectives of policymakers and the politics that are unavoidably played out in a UN forum. Being a part of the discussion, rather than trying to ignore it, has allowed us and other technical community supporters to engage with national representatives, explaining our role and responsibilities and arguing for open Internet standards and the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.
A common ground
Government support, partnerships, and regulatory settings can be an important factor to enable growth of the Internet in developing economies. APNIC sees an important role for the ITU in the development space. ITU has the influence to support a development agenda for the region.
Rather than an opponent, APNIC decided to make a collaborator of the organization. In that effort, in 2013 we began a fruitful collaboration with the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific based in Bangkok, Thailand. Since then, APNIC has developed a cooperative agreement with this office, with support from the Australian and Thai governments, to host an annual IPv6 workshop and, more recently, adding a program of direct country assistance engagements.
One step at a time
Over the period of nearly a decade, acknowledgement of the RIRs has grown from a time where most governments were unaware of the RIRs and their activities to a situation today where many of them acknowledge and recognize the importance of our role as registries in the Internet governance space, and participate in our jointly run training and capacity-building events.
The relationship between APNIC and the ITU has taken many years to build. The slow spread of positive outcomes with impact in developing economies, which was made evident in the recent WTDC-17, demonstrates that it is best to have a positive (rather than adversarial or defensive) engagement between RIRs and intergovernmental organizations.
ITU / APNIC joint development initiatives
- 2013 – IPv6 Security Workshop – Bangkok, Thailand
- 2014 – ITU Workshop – Bangkok, Thailand
- 2014 – IPv6 Workshop – Vientiane, Laos
- 2015 – IPv6 Workshop – Bangkok, Thailand
- 2015 – Country Direct Assistance – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
- 2016 – IPv6 Security Workshop – Bangkok, Thailand
- 2016 – Country Direct Assistance IPv6 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- 2017 – Infrastructure and IPv6 Security Workshop – Bangkok, Thailand
- 2017 – Country Direct Assistance IPv6 – Thimpu, Bhutan
- 2017 – Infrastructure and IPv6 Security Workshop (w/ PacNOG) – Nuku’alofa, Tonga
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.