Cairns, Australia, 22 March 2012
Chairman Edgardo Cabarios
Distinguished colleagues and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be with you today for this third APT preparatory meeting for the World Conference on International Communications hosted by the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy.
On behalf of the ITU Secretary-General I would like to thank APT Secretary General Yamada for his kind welcoming words and his excellent collaboration with ITU in organising this regional preparatory meeting. I would also like to thank Edgardo Cabarios for being our Chairman.
ITU Secretariat is pleased to be able to support this event. I am joined by Ms Eun Ju Kim, Director of the ITU Regional Office, Bangkok, Mr Arthur Levin, TSB, and Mr Preetam Maloor, General Secretariat. Although WCIT is not an ITU-T Sector conference it is likely to impact ITU-T mofre than the other two sectors the Secretary-General has decided that I should coordinate the ITU Secretariat’s preparations for WCIT.
In February APT was kind enough to host a joint APT/ITU information session on WCIT in Bangkok to bring some clarity to the processes and emerging themes. This followed the previous meeting in Manila where it became clear that there was a certain lack of awareness.
Feedback from the Bangkok event was very positive and I think we succeeded in sensitising people to the topics in advance of this meeting. It was especially useful for those who have not been able to participate in the ITU Council preparatory working group.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Vice Chairman of the Council working group for this region - Mr Jongbong Park – for his excellent contributin to our work.
The APT region is extraordinarily diverse. On the one hand you have some of the most connected countries in the world and on the other you have some of those that have profited least from the ICT revolution.
This diversity is reflected in the fact in the Asia Pacific region overall there are only 6.2 fixed broadband users per 100 people compared to Europe where 25.8 per 100 are broadband users.
At the top end of the scale Korea has 36 per 100 people connected to broadband… while at the other end Papua New Guinea has only 0.09.
That said the growth in some areas for mobile has been extraordinary – in particular for Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam between 2005 and 2010.
Connecting the world and all of its inhabitants is ITU’s key objective. Many Resolutions drawn up at our major conferences seek to achieve this objective.
The WCIT will be the last of three major ITU conferences in 2012. It will take place 3 – 14 December 2012 in Dubai.
The WCIT will be the first ever and the first conference to amend the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) adopted in Melbourne in 1988.
WCIT-12 will review this international treaty that was widely credited for creating the basis of today's connected world, a major driver of liberalisation and competition and the development of mobile communications and the Internet.
A lot has changed since 1988. I think we can all agree that this conference comes at a time when the ICT sector is having a major impact on economic and social development, and an opportunity to extend the benefits of ICTs still further.
WCIT-12 will express the common will of ITU's major stakeholders – its government and private sector membership – and this meeting starting today, as well as the council working group and the other regional preparatory meetings like this are part of an ongoing preparatory process.
Some of the issues on the table include the right to communicate; security in the use of ICTs and the protection of national resources; taxation, roaming; misuse and hijacking of international numbers, and interoperability.
These are issues that will affect the creation of a fully inclusive information society over the next decade, one that ensures the world's people can gain equitable and affordable access to voice, video and data.
It is generally agreed that light regulation is necessary, and what can be seen emerging is a recognition of the need to lay down principles on topics that concern us all and which require agreement at an intergovernmental level.
For example, certain types of misuse of numbering resources are apparently not prohibited in certain countries. This is an issue of great concern in this region. It would seem reasonable to expect that all countries should prohibit, in their national laws, misuse and hijacking of international numbers, so surely a clause to this effect could be included in the revised ITRs?
What is clear is that today there is a need for coordination and consolidation between the various stakeholders at both the national and international levels, and for this to take place under a commonly agreed international framework.
There needs to be a level playing field at both the national and the international level, to avoid abuse of power by dominant national and international players.
Data volumes are increasing much faster than the infrastructure needed to carry it. There is a risk of a lack of investment in the infrastructure. This needs to be addressed internationally.
ITU’s membership recognized the need to review the ITRs in the light of these developments and at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in October 2010 it was agreed that the Council Working Group on WCIT would look at proposals for reviewing the ITRs and prepare a report to WCIT in 2012.
The Council working group will next meet in Geneva 23-25 April and the final meeting will take place 20-22 June 2012. The publication of its report will be on 29 June 2012 (5 months prior to WCIT) and will include a consolidation of all the proposals it has received.
Member States are asked to submit their proposals for the work of the conference at least four months before the start of WCIT, which is by 3 August 2012.
In preparing for WCIT it is necessary to reach out to the entire ITU membership, as well as the multi-stakeholder community, to encourage input to WCIT, because the ITRs will eventually affect all the world’s citizens.
The revised treaty should lay down principles that will act as a positive catalyst for the future development of the ICT Sector.
In the interests of sustainable and equitable growth of global ICTs I strongly urge this region to take a continued and active role in the preparation process. This WCIT is an opportunity not to be missed.
Let me take this opportunity to recognize the contribution Art Levin has made to ITU over many years as this is the last international meeting he will attend as ITU staff. He retires at the end of this month after a distinguished career in ITU including organizing the WSIS conferences and the 2006 Plenipotentiary Conference. I would particularly like to thank him for his contribution to TSB over the last four years and wish him a long and happy retirement.
In closing I would just like to add that the 1988 conference was successful thanks to the excellent hosting by Australia.
I am sure that the Australian hosting of this meeting will also help APT make a positive contribution to the WCIT.