Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 19 March 2013
Secretary General, CTU
Honourable Permanent Secretaries
CEO of the Telecommunications Authority
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank my good friend Bernadette Lewis, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) for organising this event and inviting ITU to participate. I believe it is important following the extensive preparatory work, and in particular the joint CTU/ITU preparatory meeting held here last October, that we should reflect on the outcome of the conference, the success of the regional proposals, and how the decisions taken can be implemented in the Caribbean region.
The preparatory meeting last October helped to focus on the key issues for the conference, and I hope today’s event will be equally beneficial by clarifying some of the results.
Last October we also prepared for the World Assembly for ITU’s Standards Sector, which preceded WCIT, so just a few words on the WTSA. It was the best ever attended World Assembly and a great success. It adopted 50 Resolutions, 6 new and 44 revised, and produced the first-ever Resolutions on e-health, software-defined networks (SDN), and e-waste. It re-emphasized and strengthened the ITU-T mandate in areas such as climate change, conformity and interoperability, and accessibility, and saw encouragement for greater engagement of academia in our work. It also substantially revised Resolution 44 on Bridging the Standards Gap, and I very much hope that Caribbean participation in the work of ITU-T will increase as a result.
The participation in WCIT was also far greater than when the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) were first adopted in 1988. No other ITU conference has ever attracted so much attention, and no other conference has been so open to the public, with over 5 million following online. 152 Member States participated compared to 112 in 1988, along with many observers.
I am pleased to say that Caribbean countries played a very active role in the proceedings. In particular, the CTU Secretary-General chaired one of the main groups (Working Group 5-1), which dealt with many of the contentious issues. I would like to personally thank Bernadette for agreeing to take on this extremely difficult task. You provided a steady hand on the tiller in turbulent waters, and I would also like to pass on the sincere thanks of the chairman of the conference, and our own Secretary-General, for your excellent handling. I was very pleased that my colleague Cleveland Thomas was also able to join us, as well as our former colleague Philip Cross, and Nigel Cassimire and the other members of the CTU team. I believe this level of participation would not have happened had it not been for that preparatory meeting last October, so it is rewarding to know that our efforts to organise that event bore fruit.
The new ITRs were signed by 89 of the 144 countries present in Dubai and authorized to sign, including the six CTU member countries participating in the conference. I hope that today’s event will help the eleven CTU members that were unable to attend WCIT to reach a decision on whether to accede to the treaty before it comes into force on 1 January 2015.
It was a difficult conference, and unfortunately many Member States were not in a position to sign the treaty immediately, due in particular to a few particular provisions, and some very late changes to the text.
Clearly this did not allow some sufficient time to consult capitals, especially taking account of time differences, within the 24 hours between the adoption of the text and the signing ceremony.
We will review all the provisions of the treaty during the day, and in particular some of the key provisions, however, there was I believe unanimous agreement to most of the provisions in the treaty, especially those requiring Member States to take action against any misuse of names and numbers in their territory; to improve transparency in mobile roaming charges; to improve energy efficiency; cut e-waste; to bring access to the 650 million people living with some kind of disability; to improve broadband connectivity for landlocked developing countries and small island states; and encourage investment and competition.
Another very positive aspect of the new ITRs is the Preamble’s placing special emphasis on freedom of access to international telecommunication services, and its affirmation that Member States commit to implementing the treaty in a manner that respects and upholds their human rights obligations.
The treaty provides a framework for the accelerated growth of ICTs at the national and international level, in particular to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population which is still offline, by driving investment in broadband rollout and in ensuring the continuing promotion of digital inclusion for all.
We will reflect of these issues over the day, and I wish you a very informative and enjoyable event, and again our thanks to our colleagues in CTU especially the Secretary-General.