Worldwide Voice of Radio Amateurs
Amateur Radio must organize nationally and internationally for better mutual use of the radio spectrum among radio amateurs throughout the world, to develop Amateur Radio worldwide, and to successfully interact with the agencies responsible for regulating and allocating radio frequencies. National societies throughout the world work together for the international good of Amateur Radio under the auspices of a representative democracy, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).
Created in Paris, France, the International Amateur Radio Union has been the watchdog and spokesman for the world Amateur Radio community since 1925. The IARU Constitution, last amended in 1989, organizes the Union into three Regional Organizations that correspond to the three radio regions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The IARU Constitution also provides for an IARU Member Society to serve as the Union’s International Secretariat.
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is an organization consisting of over 160 national amateur radio societies around the world. The International Secretariat for the IARU from time to time receives inquiries from individual amateurs as to how they may join IARU. There are no individual members of the IARU. The best way to support the IARU is to maintain membership in one or more of the national amateur radio societies.
The IARU is governed by the IARU Administrative Council (AC). The AC consists of the IARU President, Vice-President, Secretary and two representatives from each of the three IARU regional organizations. IARU Region 1 is Europe, Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia. IARU Region 2 is North, South and Central America. IARU Region 3 is most of Asia and the Pacific. The AC determines the policy for the IARU. All of the members of the IARU AC are volunteers as are the officers and directors of the IARU regional organizations.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations agency that deals with information and communication technologies. Included within the scope of the ITU work are communication services such as the amateur radio and the amateur-satellite services. The Radiocommunication Sector of the ITU (ITU-R) manages the international radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources. One of the primary activities of the IARU is to work within the ITU structure to preserve and maintain the spectrum allocated to the amateur radio and amateur-satellite services and to promote the usefulness and value of amateur radio. IARU attends all ITU-R meetings that may have any impact on amateur radio. In addition to being a sector member of ITU-R, the IARU also is a sector member of the Development Sector of ITU, or ITU-D. Emergency communications, disaster planning and response are topics discussed in ITU-D and IARU participates in those discussions. The nine individuals who are members of the IARU AC cannot attend all of the numerous ITU meetings that are important to amateur radio. There are quite a number of qualified individuals, termed Expert Consultants and Technical Representatives, who volunteer their time and effort in attending meetings and participate in working groups or study groups on behalf of the IARU.
The IARU Monitoring System consists of a number of amateur radio operators around the world who monitor the amateur radio spectrum for intruders or non-amateur radio stations transmitting on the amateur radio frequencies. If an intruder is discovered then steps are taken to bring the intruder to the attention of the telecommunication authority where the intruder resides to have the signal removed from amateur radio bands.
The IARU Beacon Project maintains a series of radio beacons in various parts of the world so that amateur operators can determine propagation patterns and participate in propagation studies.
The IARU sponsors the yearly IARU HF World Championship contest. IARU member-societies and IARU volunteers are encouraged to join the contest to promote awareness of the IARU.
The Worked All Continents award is the oldest operating award in amateur radio. The basic award is earned by confirming contacts with the six continental areas of the world (contacts with Antarctica count for the nearest continent with a permanent population). Applications generally are submitted to an amateur’s own national IARU member-society.
The IARU sponsors World Amateur Radio Day each year in the spring. IARU member-societies are encouraged to take advantage of this special day to promote amateur radio in their country.
The IARU from time to time also becomes involved in other special projects related to amateur radio.
In addition, the three regional IARU organizations sponsor their own activities such as Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) championships.