Aim of the IARU
The purpose of the IARU can be summarised as follows: to ensure that radio amateurs have frequency bands on which they are allowed to transmit: these are decided at the regular meetings of the ITU (WRC or World Radio Conference).
- Ensuring that radio amateurs are subject to regulations that make it possible to practise the hobby. Especially in Europe, regulations are becoming more and more supranational, which means that representation of radio amateurs in the committees preparing these regulations and in the European Parliament is very important.
- Making operational recommendations for radio amateurs internationally (e.g. band plan, operating procedures, etc...).
In the image of the ITU, the IARU is organised into three regions.
- Region 1 consists of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the countries of the former USSR.
- Region 2 consists of North and South America.
- Region 3 consists of China, India, the Far East, Australia and Pacific islands.
The IARU recognises a single association per member state. For Belgium, this is the UBA not only because it was co-founder of the IARU but because it is the largest association in Belgium.
Each recognised radio amateur association has one vote for voting in plenary sessions. That is, the vote of Belgium with more than 5,000 radio amateurs, represented by the UBA, weighs as heavily as that of Germany with more than 75,000 radio amateurs (represented by the DARC) and also as heavily as that of Luxembourg with barely 500 licensed radio amateurs, represented by the RL.
IARU Region 1 is governed by an 'executive committee' (EC) that provides day-to-day management (like the UBA Board of Directors). This consists of eight members headed by a chairman, with a vice-chairman, a secretary, a treasurer, etc....
There are also a number of committees, each dealing with certain topics, including:
C2: the committee dealing with financial matters.
C3: the "general affairs" committee. The C3 committee deals with other problems, i.e. these related to frequency management. The C3 committee consists of numerous working groups, including:
- The CLG (Common License Group) which deals with licence uniformity. The CEPT licence and the HAREC exam are two major achievements of that working group.
- Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) working group.
- The IARUMS (International Amateur Radio Union Monitoring Service) working group that watches over our bands and takes action against potential intruders. Dozens of complaints are noted and usually intruders are required to cease broadcasting.
- The High Speed Telegraphy (HST) Working Group. That working group spearheads the protagonists concerning CW and highlights the achievements of the very best telegraphers.
- EUROCOM: that working group aims to defend the amateur radio service before European bodies (European commission, European parliament).
- The STARS working group (Support The Amateur Radio Service) which aims to help developing countries establish an amateur radio service.
- The External Relations Working Group (ER) which represents IARU in organisations such as the ITU, CEPT, ERO, etc. The ER is tasked with detecting in a timely manner any threats that might arise in those organisations against the ham radio service and responding to them appropriately.
C4: the HF committee.
C5: the VHF committee.
C7: the EMC committee.
The latter three are technical committees. Among other things, committees C4 and C5 manage the use of frequency spectra assigned to the Radio Amateur Service. There, band planning is defined as well as the procedures to be used. The C7 committee, namely the EMC (ElectroMagnetic Compatibility) committee, which deals with problems concerning specifications of devices that receive or transmit HF signals and the effect on other devices as well as the secondary effect e.g. on the human body.
Radio frequencies are allocated to different services worldwide by the ITU (part of the UN). Exactly how these bands should be used is left to the different countries. In some countries, the radio amateur bands are divided into segments reserved for certain transmission modes (e.g. in the USA). Other countries leave this free (e.g. Belgium). To avoid international chaos, the IARU has worked out a BAND PLANNING that has been accepted and applied as a gentlemen's agreement by all radio amateurs.
More than 30 representatives regularly attend the working meetings. At each meeting, dozens of proposals coming from member associations are analysed. Some of them are retained and usually an interesting discussion is held on those proposals.
All decisions are reported in the official reports. These are summarised and commented on by the IARU Liaison manager, the HF manager and the VHF manager in CQ-QSO. The recommendations concerning HF and VHF are also compiled in an "HF Manager Handbook" and a "VHF Manager Handbook", practical handbooks that give a good overview of all recommendations (such as band plan, etc.) and are available to all members.
Each member association (such as the UBA) designates a Liaison Officer. His duties include passing on information and questions to the responsible administrators or committees. If there is no specific person in charge, he will look after the matter himself.
Informal meetings at Friedrichshafen
Ham Radio, which takes place every year in Friedrichshafen, is an excellent opportunity to hold informal meetings with the various delegations. In future, these informal meetings could take on a more official character so as to replace official working meetings.
The functioning of the IARU is based on the Triennial Conferences and Intermediate Meetings. All national member associations may submit proposals. The UBA will present proposals arising from the committees as well as from individual members, after they have been approved by the Executive Board.
Those proposals are discussed in the committees and working groups, while the general assembly of IARU Region 1 must ratify the decisions of the committees and working groups.
A vital task is the preparation of the periodic WRC (World Radio Conference), organised by the ITU. It is at these conferences that the allocation of the radio spectrum is decided. WARC (World Amateur Radio Conference) is the IARU conference that prepares the WRC.
A second equally important task is to be involved in the drafting of international regulations, which is especially topical in Europe where much of this matter is dealt with at the European level.
Banner photo on top of this page: All participants of the IARU Conference in 2017 at Landhut (Germany).