In addition to the ITU-T Recommendations, which have non-mandatory status until they are adopted in national laws, ITU-T is also the custodian of a binding international treaty, the International Telecommunication Regulations. The ITRs go back to the earliest days of the ITU when there were two separate treaties, dealing with telegraph and telephone. The ITRs were adopted, as a single treaty, at the World Administrative Telegraphy and Telephone Conference held in Melbourne, 1988 (WATTC-88).
In line with the current Constitution and Convention of ITU, the ITRs can be amended through a World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), and the next is scheduled for 2012. Before then a process of review of the ITRs, which began in 1998, will continue.
The ITRs comprise ten articles which deal, inter alia, with the definition of international telecommunication services, cooperation between countries and national administrations, safety of life and priority of telecommunications and charging and accounting principles. The adoption of the ITRs in 1988 is often taken as the start of the wider liberalization process in international telecommunications, though a few countries, including United States and United Kingdom, had made steps to liberalize their markets before 1988.
At the December, 2012, World Conference on International Telecommunications, ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré will convene member-state delegations in Dubai to renegotiate the ITR treaty. "The sprawling document, which governs telephone, television, and radio networks, may be extended to cover the Internet, raising questions about who should control it, and how", assessed one journalist looking forward to the conference earlier that year.