It was the most likely outcome. Predictable even. But the US led a walkout of delegates from mostly western countries at the conclusion of the 12 day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai yesterday, saying they were unable to agree to any changes in internet governance.
Changes proposed would have impacted on roles such as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s role in being responsible for the operation and maintenance of a number of key aspects of the domain name system (DNS).
The US delegate to the WCIT announced that the “US must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form.”
We candidly cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance.
In a statement delivered from the floor of the conference, Ambassador Terry Kramer went on to say the US “cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance. These past two weeks, we have of course made good progress and shown a willingness to negotiate on a variety of telecommunications policy issues, such as roaming and settlement rates, but the United States continues to believe that internet policy must be multi-stakeholder driven. Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount. This has not happened here.”
The position was supported by a wide range of mostly western countries, with the US, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Egypt, Canada, Poland, Qatar and Kenya all objecting to the changes and not being in a position of not being able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.
But the changes that will be agreed upon by a range of countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, could mean the internet develops differently in different regions.
On Wednesday night a “non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency’s leadership should ‘continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet,’” reported BBC News.
This was opposed by the US and European governments.
While the treaty is due to be signed at 13:30 GMT on Friday, it was predictable that western countries, led by the US would object to any changes to internet governance as they had been resolute at the outset there were certain changes they would not countenance.
For more information, see the news reports below.
US, UK and Canada refuse to sign UN’s internet treaty
Talks on Internet treaty fail as U.S. bloc won’t sign
U.N. summit implodes as U.S., others spurn Internet treaty
U.S. Intervention at the World Conference on International Telecommunications: statement delivered by Ambassador Terry Kramer from the floor of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) on December 13, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
WCIT Split After Split “Vote” On Internet Governance Resolution
Internet humbles UN telecoms agency
Why the ITU is the wrong place to set Internet standards
U.S. Snubs U.N. Telecom Treaty With Rest Of West At Dubai Conference [AP]
The Masters of the Internet by Timothy Karr, Campaign Director, Free Press and SavetheInternet.com