15th meeting of the ITSO Advisory Committee - Washington D.C.

The 15th meeting of the Advisory Committee (IAC) of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO) was held last 17-18 November in Washington. Some 30 delegates attended, representing 20 states (parties). Also taking part as observers were delegates from Canada, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Uganda.

Due to the absence of the previous vice-chairman (Mamadou Ba, Senegal), the IAC appointed by acclamation Eleazar Lankoande (Burkina Faso) as chairman and Abdul Aziz Awang (Malaysia) as vice-president. The DG also presented the new legal affairs director, Renata Brazil-David, who began her duties in August, replacing the previous director, who resigned for personal reasons. Brazil-David has seven years experience in international law; she also has a doctorate and has been dedicated to academic research, especially in the area of arbitrage, in the United Kingdom and the USA.

The Committee continued the debate about the ITSO's future after 18 July 2013, when the organisation will either continue or disband, depending on the decision expressed by two thirds of the states represented in the Assembly of Parties (AP).

The DG previously presented four studies concerning the organisation's future and analysing the consequences of maintaining or disbanding the ITSO:

- Legal Analysis regarding article XXI of the ITSO Agreement and Article 14 of the Public Services Agreement;

- Evolution of the "Common Heritage" - 2001-2010;

- Valuation of Common Heritage Orbital Locations;

- Interim Report on the Evolution of the Satellite Environment since 2001 - Implications for ITSO.

This time the consultants Wolfgang Wagner and Maury Mechanick presented two new studies to the Committee, one of which is the final version of the aforementioned internal report, respectively:

- Final Report on the Evolution of the Satellite Environment since 2001 - Implications for ITSO;

- Identification of Steps and Actions to be Taken in the Event the Agreement is to be Terminated.

Both studies received written comments from Germany and Portugal. In his usual presentation on the company's activities and financial situation, Intelsat executive vice-president Phillip Spector this time had particularly harsh words regarding the studies commissioned by the DG, considering them opinionated, badly grounded and speculative. The executive from the satellite operator, who obviously defends the end of ITSO, said the states should decide the organisation's future based on its value for the countries; if they decide to maintain ITSO, then the company should not have to bear alone the respective costs after July 2013.

The Committee began discussions about eventually extending the director-general's mandate if the ITSO continues beyond 2013, with a view to avoiding the need for an extraordinary Assembly of Parties, given that the next AP is scheduled for July 2012, before the end of the DG's 4-year mandate. It was decided that this matter should be placed on the agenda of the next IAC, which may consider the adoption of a recommendation to the Assembly.

The IAC took note of various documents of a financial nature, namely the report from the auditor Alex Castelli of the Reznick Group, the "Report of ITSO's external audit of expenditures and accounts", which encompasses the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, as well as the documents "Quaterly procedures related to financial statements of ITSO", "Comparison of the budget to the actual results for fiscal year 2011" and "Reserve fund".

The next IAC is scheduled for 27-28 March 2012.