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The Secretary-General
Until 1949, the Executive Head of the "Bureau of the International Telegraph Union" was a Director, appointed by the Swiss Confederation which was responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the ITU on behalf of the Member States. In 1947, the Plenipotentiary Conference (Atlantic City) decided to create an organization under its own supervision and from which it would receive its authority and powers. The Executive Head became "Secretary-General".

The role of the Secretary-General is defined in Article 11 of the ITU Constitution and Article 5 of the ITU Convention. Assisted by a Deputy Secretary-General, he is responsible for:

  • the coordination the Unionís activities, with the assistance of the Coordination Committee;
  • the preparation, with the assistance of the Coordination Committee, of the material required for the preparation of a report on the policies and strategic plan for the Union, and coordinate the implementation of the plan;
  • the economic use of the Unionís resources and of  all the administrative and financial aspects of the Unionís activities;

The Secretary-General also acts as the legal representative of the Union and may act as depositary of special arrangements established in conformity with the Constitution.

The Coordination Committee consists of the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and the Directors of the three Bureaux. It is presided over by the Secretary-General, and in his absence by the Deputy Secretary-General.

The Coordination Committee acts as an internal management team which advises and gives the Secretary-General practical assistance on all administrative, financial, information system and technical cooperation matters which do not fall under the exclusive competence of a particular Sector or of the General Secretariat and on external relations and public information.

ITU Secretaries-General ó past to present

Louis CURCHOD (Switzerland)
Director 1 January 1869 to 24 May 1872 and 23 February 1873 to 18 October 1889

Charles LENDI (Switzerland)
Director from 24 May 1872 to 12 January 1873

Auguste FREY (Switzerland)
Director from 25 February 1890 to 28 June 1890

Timothie ROTHEN (Switzerland)
Director from 25 November 1890 to 11 February 1897

Emile FREY (Switzerland)
Director from 11 March 1897 to 1 August 1921

Henri ETIENNE (Switzerland)
Director from 2 August 1921 to 16 December 1927

Joseph RABER (Switzerland)
Director from 1 February 1928 to 30 October 1934

Franz von ERNST (Switzerland)
Director from 1 January 1935 to 31 December 1947 and
Secretary-General from 1 January 1948 to 31 December 1949

Leon MULATIER (France)
Secretary-General from 1 January 1950 to 31 December 1953

Marco Aurelio ANDRADA (Argentina)
Secretary-General from 1 January 1954 to 18 June 1958

Gerald C. GROSS (United States)
Secretary-General from 1 January 1960 to 29 October 1965

Manohar Balaji SARWATE (India)
Secretary-General from 30 October 1965 to 19 February 1967

Mohamed Ezzedine MILI (Tunisia)
Secretary-General from 20 February 1967 to 31 December 1982

Richard E. BUTLER (Australia)
Secretary-General from 1 January 1983 to 31 October 1989

Pekka TARJANNE (Finland)
Secretary-General from 1 November 1989 to 31 January 1999

Yoshio UTSUMI (Japan)
Secretary-General from 1 February 1999 to 31 December 2006

Hamadoun TOURE (Mali)
Secretary-General since 1 January 2007


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Updated : 2007-02-01