Delegates representing the United States at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea applauded a working group agreement on a set of resolutions that affirm the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance and the right of individual states to take the lead on web network governance issues within their respective national boundaries.
The resolutions, approved on Wednesday, push back recent efforts by China, Russia and other nations to mandate a centralized international governance model for the Internet with the ITU at the head. At the December 2012 ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications, members of the U.S. delegation refused to ratify a treaty to update the ITU International Telecommunications Regulations after conferees agreed to add a resolution to conduct further discussions on a proposed centralized governance model for the Internet. Fearing that the non-binding resolution would open the door to future worldwide regulation of the Internet, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer proclaimed the U.S. stance at the time that “no single organization or government should attempt to control the Internet or dictate its future development.”
Described by ad hoc working group chairman Fabio Bigi as a “very carefully negotiated and delicately balanced package,” the resolutions address (1) IP-based networks, (2) the ITU’s role with respect to domain name and other international policy issues that pertain to Internet resources and management, (3) the role of member state governments over domain name management, and (4) the transition of Internet networks from IP version 4 to IP version 6 (IPv6). Language adopted for the resolution on the ITU’s role maintains that “the public sector, as well as public-private and regional initiatives, continues to play a very important role in the expansion and development of the Internet.” The resolution further acknowledges “the need for development of international public policy by governments in consultation with all stakeholders.” With respect to future IPv6 networks, the resolution stresses that “the involvement of all stakeholders is critical for a successful transition.”
Conferees, meanwhile, turned down a proposed resolution, championed by India, that would have directed the ITU Telecommunications Standardization Bureau to explore the “development of [a] naming and numbering system from which the naming and numbering of different countries are easily discernible.” Among other things, the rejected resolution would have also required the bureau to make recommendations on “network capability which ensure effectively that address resolution for the traffic originating and intended to be terminated by the user in the same county/region takes place within the country/region.” Praising the working group’s efforts, a U.S. spokesman described the resolutions as “the soul of a positive environment of compromise” which “will help guide us over the next four years.”