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WCIT 12: Majority agrees UN should play “active” role in web regulation

The UN’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT12), which is currently taking place in Dubai, has resulted in a contentious majority ruling that the UN be given greater agency in the role of Internet regulation.

Conference chairman Mohamed Nasser al Ghanim declared that the “majority agreed to adopt the resolution as amended."

But the Spanish delegation has called the very premise of the vote into question, asserting that attendees were misled by Ghanim, who said he was looking for “a feel of the room”.

“Had we known that it was a vote, we might very well have acted differently," the Spanish contingent objected.

The vote also runs contrary to initial claims made by the presiding UN communications arm, the International Telecommunication Union, which promised prior to the conference’s start that amendments would be derived from consensus rather than the divisive practice of majority voting.

“Puzzling shenanigans at WCIT on accepting Internet resolution, perhaps ascribable to desperation and the late hour,” read a tweet from US representative James Lewis.

"We do not believe the focus of this conference should be on the Internet and we did not come to this conference in anticipation of a discussion on the Internet," said lead US representative Terry Kramer at the conference when casting a vote against the resolution.

The vote also exposed a deep division between the attending states predicated on divergent stances on human rights and the role it will play in prospective amendments to the communications treaty.

At a separate session, China, Algeria and Iran objected to a proposal requiring “human rights obligations”, with the Algerian delegation arguing that such language had no “rightful place” at the proceedings.

Conversely, Sweden spoke in support of the US proposal stating its belief that “this provision is a very important matter.”

Image Credit: Flickr (itupictures)