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Further progress towards SKA intergovernmental organisation

IGO meeting group photoFriday 29 January, Rome, Italy – The second meeting of the preparatory negotiations towards establishing SKA Organisation as an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) regulated by a treaty – similar to CERN and ESO – has just ended in Rome, Italy, at the Accademia dei Lincei.

Upon concluding the meeting, Enrico Vicenti, Plenipotentiary Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Affairs and who chairs the negotiations said: “This second session has confirmed the strong commitment of the participating countries in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. It showed their determination to conclude the negotiation process as soon as possible. Now we have to reflect on the level of contributions: this is a very important first step”.

The talks included reports and discussions from the various groups on financial protocol, privileges and immunities, procurement and intellectual property rights, and operations and access. Each of these working groups is working towards delivering documentation that will form the basis of negotiation in the first instance, and ultimately, the structure of the future organisation needed to approve, implement and then operate the SKA.

“I am very pleased by the collaborative attitude shown by all the parties involved”, said Professor Philip Diamond, Director General of SKA Organisation. “All came with the same end goal in sight, their engagement is absolute, and their determination to reach a positive outcome is impressive.”

The first round of the negotiations took place in October 2015, with the third round expected to take place in April 2016. The IGO treaty will ensure strong governance for the project, and has been confirmed by the SKA Board of Directors as a needed structure for the 50-year lifetime of the observatory.