North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Paul Wilson and Geoff Huston of APNIC on IP address allocationITU v/s ICANN

  • From: Alex Bligh
  • Date: Thu Apr 28 09:20:11 2005

--On 28 April 2005 07:06 -0400 Scott W Brim <[email protected]> wrote:

I think Bill is actually correct. ITU is a treaty organization. Only
members of the UN (i.e. countries). ITU-T (and ITU-R, ITU-D) are sector
organizations that telcos can join (AIUI the difference having arisen
when a meaningful difference arose between telco and state monopoly).
However, given the entire organization is run by the ITU, it's fair
to say it is essentially a governmental organization run with some
private sector involvement. Whereas ...
An ITU publication says the majority of ITU members, including member
states and sector members, are now vendors.
Members yes, if you count sector members. But as far as I can tell,
the ITU is ultimately controlled by its council, which are state
representatives elected by a plenipotentiary committee of states.
Here's the ITU's own take, which seems to agree with me:

Note the remit of the Council:

The role of the Council is to consider, in the interval between
plenipotentiary conferences, broad telecommunication policy issues to
ensure that the Union’s activities, policies and strategies fully
respond to today’s dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunication
environment. It also prepares the ITU strategic plan.
In addition, the Council is responsible for ensuring the smooth
day-to-day running of the Union, coordinating work programmes, approving
budgets and controlling finances and expenditure.
Finally, the Council takes all steps to facilitate the implementation of
the provisions of the ITU Constitution, the ITU Convention, the
Administrative Regulations (International Telecommunication Regulations
and Radio Regulations), the decisions of plenipotentiary conferences and,
where appropriate, the decisions of other conferences and meetings of the
Just like any organization (and this is without criticism of the ITU), when
talking to a given audience, it tries to make itself appear most attractive
to that audience. Thus it emphasizes private sector involvement when
talking to the private sector. I am quite sure that when talking to African
nations, it also emphasizes that there are more Region D (African) states
on the council than their are either Region A (Americas) or region B
(Western Europe). That's politics.

I'm am trying to provide objective information here rather than opinion.
It's not as if ICANN is beyond criticism: it could equally be argued that
ICANN has *no* members (of the corporation) as such, and that the way its
board is elected is at least non-trivial to understand. However,
characterizing the ITU as a private sector dominated organization (let
alone an organization dominated by private sector players relevant to the
internet) is not accurate (at least not today - I understand they are
making overtures towards internet companies - see WGIG/WSIS side meetings).