Remembering Nabil Kisrawi
24 October 1932 to 29 January 2011
The voice of Nabil Kisrawi will be heard no more. A passionate participant at ITU conferences and meetings stretching back over three decades, Nabil Kisrawi spoke for his country, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Arab Group, the developing countries and the whole membership. His mastery of the subjects being discussed, and his ability to pop up at just the right moment to push a decision one way – or prevent it going another way – will surely remain stuff of legend.
Born on 24 October 1932, he started to work at ITU in January 1979 and became a counsellor at the Technical Cooperation Department – now the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). He ceased being an ITU staff member in January 1993, but he never really left the Union until his death on 29 January 2011.
As a permanent representative of the Syrian Telecommunication Establishment to ITU, Nabil Kisrawi during the last decades attended all the Study Group meetings of the Union’s three Sectors, as well as meetings of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG), the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG) and the Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG), as head of delegation. He participated in World Telecommunication Standardization Assemblies, World Telecommunication Development Conferences, Radiocommunication Assemblies, World Radiocommunication Conferences and relevant Regional Radiocommunication Conferences, and in Plenipotentiary Conferences from Kyoto (1994) to Guadalajara (2010). Within the League of Arab States, he became Chairman of the Arab Spectrum Management Group in 2001, and Chairman of the Arab Standardisation Group in 2008.
With a glance that missed nothing and a mind that retained everything, Nabil Kisrawi could recall decisions taken in myriad meetings, and the history of how those decisions had been reached. At Guadalajara he was surrounded by young acolytes who hung on his every word.
Nabil Kisrawi was Chairman of ITU-D Study Group 2 and Vice-Chairman of TDAG from 1998 until 2010. He was also Vice-Chairman of ITU-R Study Group 1 in 1995-2000, RAG Vice-Chairman since RA-2000, and TSAG Vice-Chairman from 2000 until 2008. He became Vice-Chairman of the Coordination Committee for Vocabulary by a RAG decision in 2005, and was elected Chairman of the ITU-T Standardization Committee for Vocabulary by the WTSA-2008.
Perhaps Nabil Kisrawi’s most lasting legacy will be through his work as Chairman of the Council Working Group on Languages, in ensuring the use of the Union’s six official languages on an equal footing. When you visit ITU today, you will see the name of the International Telecommunication Union proudly displayed, not just in English, French and Spanish, but also – thanks to Nabil Kisrawi – in Arabic, Chinese and Russian. It was typical of the man not to be satisfied with the adoption of a resolution on the use of languages on an equal footing, but tenaciously to pursue the implementation of that ideal in practice.