Australia actively engaged in policy discussions and was successfully re elected to Council at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 (PP-18) in Dubai.

The ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). The ITU establishes treaty agreements and recommends world standards for telecommunications, radiocommunications and satellite services to ensure these networks and ICTs can easily and seamlessly interconnect around the world.

Preparations for the Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 (PP-18)

Asia-Pacific regional preparations for PP-18 were coordinated through the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), a treaty-based regional telecommunication organisation. The APT organised a series of meetings dedicated to the development of APT Common Proposals (ACPs). This process provided an opportunity to canvass country proposals and to establish regional consensus on key issues for PP-18. Five other regional groupings also coordinated regional proposals and positions for PP-18: the Arab Group, ATU (Africa) CITEL (the Americas), CEPT (Europe), and the RCC (Commonwealth of Independent States — the former Soviet Union).

In the lead up to PP-18, the Department worked closely with our stakeholders, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Communications and Media Authority to campaign for Australia's re-election to the ITU Council and to develop Australia's policy positions to take forward to PP-18.

To support the development of Australian positions for the Conference, a stakeholder information paper was circulated in June 2018 that provided Australian domestic stakeholders with information on key issues, and a videoconference was held in August 2018 to discuss these issues.

A key focus for Australia's preparations for PP-18 was hosting the third Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) meeting, held in Melbourne from 18 to 21 June 2018. Further details on the meeting are available on the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity website.

Australia elected to the ITU Council

Australia was successfully re-elected to the ITU Council at PP-18.

The ITU Council oversees the operations of the ITU and ensures its activities, budgets, policies and strategies are aligned with the decisions made at the Plenipotentiary Conference and respond to today's rapidly changing telecommunications environment.

The Council is made up of 48 members, split across five world regions. Australia has been an elected member of the Council since 1959, and has played a pivotal role in the ITU's support for communications in our region, especially in aiding capacity–building efforts.

As a Council Member, Australia promotes an efficient, effective and inclusive ITU where Member States, Sector Members, associates and academia can share ideas and work collaboratively. Australia's work helps the ITU strengthen its governance arrangements and enhance its accountability and transparency.

Current ITU Members 2018-22, Region A 9 Seats, Region B 8 Seats, Region C 5 Seats, Region D 13 Seats, Region E 13 Seats

Policy Outcomes from PP-18

The Plenipotentiary Conference is the ITU's top policy-making meeting, and the most important event for influencing decisions on the future role of the organisation and its ability to support the development of telecommunications worldwide. It provides an opportunity for all 193 Member States to come together to agree on the Union's overall strategic and financial plans, leadership and direction for the next four years.

Australia's priorities for PP-18 were to keep the ITU focused on its core mandate of developing technical standards and improving access to ICTs to unserved and underserved communities worldwide, maximising efficiency in the ITU's budget and administrative operations and promoting good governance, accountability and transparency.

Discussions at PP-18 were extensive. Negotiations and debates ranged across a number of complex issues, including: Artificial Intelligence, a convention on cyber security, regulation of Over-the-Top Technologies (OTTs), expanding the role of the ITU in the internet governance space and the revision of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). Australia worked alongside other likeminded Member States to ensure that these discussions did not result in actions that were contrary to our core policy positions.

The broader reforms taking place within the United Nations were also addressed at PP-18, and the importance of implementing these reforms within the ITU as a United Nations specialised agency was highlighted. Australia and other Member States used these reforms to push for reviews of the ITU's regional presence, promote gender equality and parity within the ITU and support effective governance practices.

Australia was able to achieve its priorities and was a signatory to the Final Acts of PP-18. We have prepared a stakeholder report that provides an overview of the key policy outcomes from PP-18. This report can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page.

After successful engagement with PP-18, Australia is preparing for participation in two key ITU radiocommunications policy forums — the Radiocommunication Assembly 2019 (RA-19) and the treaty-level World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), both of which will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 21 October to 22 November 2019. More information on Australia's engagement on international radiocommunications issues, and Australia's preliminary views on the WRC-19 Agenda Items, can be found on our International Radiocommunications webpage.

Australian Activity at PP-18

Australia sent a delegation of 15 to PP-18, including the Minister for Communications and the Arts, the Secretary of the Department and the Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs.

As well as actively participating in negotiations throughout the conference, Australia was a Vice-Chair of the Working Group of the Plenary and chaired several ad hoc drafting groups relating to connectivity and administration and management.