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3rd round of SKA IGO negotiations successfully concludes in Rome

Representatives from the SKA member countries during SKA IGO negotiations at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome.

Representatives from the SKA member countries during SKA IGO negotiations at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome.

Tuesday 26 April, Rome, Italy  Last week the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome were host to the 3rd round of preparatory negotiations for the transition of the SKA Organisation into an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) as part of an ongoing process with the first round of talks being held last October, and the second in January this year. Transitioning the Square Kilometre Array project into an IGO, regulated by international treaty, will ensure a strong governance for the duration of the project.

Italy, one of the ten SKA member countries, has been presiding over the process, with Minister Enrico Vicente of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the chair. At the head of the Italian delegation to the meeting is the President of INAF, Nicholas D’Amico. “The negotiations are going well. We will ask the project office to make some technical insights in the coming months. We think that a reasonable date for the next meeting will be around September, but before that date all countries have to acquire various documents and more accurate assessments about the overall costs. The next meeting could be crucial for what concerns many economic and technical aspects”. Professor D’Amico also explained that “it is a very complex project, each country has a different economy and we have to deal with it. The need to deepen economic issues, technical issues, what to do and where to do, it is quite significant indeed. It is an elaborate evaluation that takes a certain time”.

Professor Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director-General, was very pleased with the progress made: “We saw significant convergence on the text of the convention and associated protocols at this meeting”, he said, “we do still have details to be addressed and the work to do so will take place over the coming weeks. But, overall, I am very happy with the outcomes achieved and look forward to what is, hopefully, a final meeting in September”.

During the three days, 19-21st April, the delegates from the project’s respective member countries have participated in important discussions concerning matters on the Financial Protocol, Privileges & Immunities, Procurement and Intellectual Property Rights and the Operations & Access models. Each of these working groups are preparing relevant documentation that will form the basis of the Treaty and ultimately the structure of the organisation that will guide the SKA into an IGO.