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Foreword by the Chairman of ITU Council 2007, Frédéric Riehl

It was with both pride and honour that the Swiss Confederation accepted to chair the sixtieth session of the ITU Council in September 2007 - not only because Geneva is home to ITU headquarters, but because the Swiss Confederation is deeply committed to bridging the digital divide and is directly engaged in a number of projects to this end at different levels. The Swiss Government stressed the importance of its commitment towards ITU and the ITU Council by nominating me as Secretary of State for the duration of the Council 2007 session.

The role of the ITU Council is to consider broad telecommunication policy issues, so that ITU's activities respond fully to the needs of Members and dynamic developments in today's ICT sector. In addition, the Council is responsible for the vitally important task of controlling ITU's finances. The 2007 session of the ITU Council was notable for the discussion of the biennial budget until 2009, ITU's new and vibrant work programme on a range of fronts and the vigorous reforms ITU has undertaken. Various issues were also discussed with regards to greater dialogue and to making ITU more responsive to Members' needs, as well as to free access to ITU Recommendations.

I am pleased to report that this Council held in the first year of office of the new management team enjoyed unprecedented participation and representation at the highest levels. Participants worked to approve the budget in record time, which has now been linked with operational plans for all Sectors and the General Secretariat. Efficiency measures were identified to cut costs further. In terms of performance, ITU-R has fully implemented its four-year work programme and eliminated the backlog in filings of satellite and terrestrial frequency assignments. ITU-T has greatly speeded up its processes and is collaborating intensively with other standardization bodies. ITU-D has been restructured and is introducing new working methods, strengthening its planning capacity and boosting the role of the Regional Offices. At the initiative of the Secretary-General, responsible staff presented overview reports themselves directly to the Council, to provide greater insight into these reforms and their activities.

Another important innovation this year was the new “High-Level Segment” held on the opening day, which gave ministers and councillors from nine countries an opportunity to exchange views on emerging trends and on issues of strategic importance. The launch of the new High-Level Segment is proof of the great importance ITU gives to the responsibility with which it was entrusted by WSIS. This year's High-Level Segment focused on cybersecurity and ICT infrastructure, both top priorities and strategic goals for ITU.

At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), ITU was asked to lead multi-stakeholder efforts in the areas of “information and communication infrastructure” and “building confidence and security in the use of ICTs”. Participants agreed that the exchange of experiences was extremely valuable and that this year's High-Level Segment had proved successful. ITU's intense commitment towards WSIS follow- up deserves emphasis, as it places ITU as a key player with respect to growing discussions on Internet governance.

As Chairman of the ITU Council 2007 and based on participants' feedback, I am pleased to confirm that the outcomes and resolutions achieved during ITU Council 2007 surpassed the expectations of most participants present. They represent a sound and solid basis on which to build over the new management team's term in office. I look forward to hearing about the further achievements of the new management, in whom I have every confidence.

Frédéric Riehl

Frédéric Riehl
Chairman of ITU Council 2007 International Director,
Office Fédéral de la Communication (OFCOM) of the Swiss Confederation



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Updated : 2008-06-17