Unique among UN specialized agencies, ITUís membership comprises Member States, represented by their respective government administrations, and Sector Members, which include private and public sector entities, such as operators, manufacturers and regulators, as well as telecommunications-related organizations such as NGOs and research and training
Since its establishment over 135 years ago, ITU has grown to become one of the most widely-represented organizations in the world, with 189 Member States along with over 650 Sector Members who, between them, represent all the major players from every corner of the telecommunication industry.
Growing interest in ITU activities continued to drive demand for membership across the Unionís Radiocommunication, Telecommunication Standardization and Telecommunication Development Sectors during 2000, with overall membership growth of 10.7%, a significant rise from the 6.5% growth reported in 1999.
The Telecommunication Development Sector, in particular, reported a marked rise in membership, with 47 new members in 2000, a 60% increase over last yearís figure. Representing service providers, manufacturers, consultancies and international organizations, 26 of these new members came from the developing world.
In line with efforts to increase responsiveness and address the evolving needs of members in a fast-changing environment, the year 2000 also saw the introduction of a brand new category of Sector Associates, which allows smaller companies to bring their innovative contributions to the work of a particular Study Group within their Sector of choice. The Radiocommunication Assembly was the first body to approve terms of membership for this new category as they apply to the Radiocommunication Sector, while ITU-T welcomed the Unionís first three Associate members, all of whom came from the scientific and industrial community. ITU-D is expected to develop its conditions for participation of Associates at its next WTDC, scheduled for 2002.
This increased participation from the private sector reflects the Unionís rapidly broadening membership base, which now includes not only telecommunication operators and equipment manufacturers, but software developers, Internet service providers, financial institutions, specialized consultancies, research agencies, publishing houses, and even the Unionís
first university member. National regulatory authorities also continued to account for a growing component of ITUís membership in 2000, in recognition of the Unionís increasingly active role in international policy-making.
Despite the healthy increase in membership numbers over the course of the year, a recruitment campaign initiated in 1999 nonetheless fell slightly short of targets, owing in part to the sustained high level of merger and acquisition activity throughout the industry, and also to the depressed climate for telecoms and IT stocks following the March 2000 market decline.
With intense pressure from Sector Members and Associates for ever-faster delivery of timely standards, sustaining the growth levels reported this year will depend in large part on the success of ITUís reform process and the related decisions of the Marrakesh Plenipotentiary Conference, scheduled for September 2002.