Speech by Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau
14 January 2011, Geneva, Switzerland
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning and let me add my thanks to you for coming to our inauguration this morning, for your support and especially the UK Ambassador, H.E. Peter Gooderham for being here and his support to me.
It seems no time since we last did this. It is hard to believe four years have passed. But time goes fast when you are busy dealing with such an exciting topic as ICTs!
It was a great honour for me to be re-elected with a strong mandate. I believe this shows that the membership is well satisfied with the work of the Sector over the last four years, and that this is not only a reflection on me but also our hard working staff and the hundreds of experts from our membership that drive our work.
This was also shown in the large number of Resolutions adopted in the Plenipotentiary Conference supporting our work, and in fact giving us much more to do over the next four years!
The strength of ITU is its membership, and for technical standardisation it is our industry members that drive the work. Increasing our membership is therefore a major objective for the next four years.
The Plenipotentiary Conference decision to introduce a reduced membership fee for companies from certain developing countries, and to create a new membership category for academia gives us a great opportunity to significantly increase our membership.
Companies from developing countries will bring a new perspective to develop standards based on their own specific requirements.
The participation of universities and research institutes will give a longer term view of standards development for new innovative services and technologies.
The Plenipotentiary Conference also recognised that ITU has a major role to play in support of the continued development of the Internet including the study of many important technical issues.
Next year in November we will have our World Telecommunications Standards Assembly immediately followed for the first time by a world conference to revise the international treaty on international telecommunications regulations, a treaty that has not been revised since 1988!
Clearly there have been many changes since then that need to be reflected in the revised treaty, in particular: to take account of the phenomenal growth of the Internet; the shift from fixed to mobile; voice to data; video streaming, liberalisation and competition.
Whatever the new treaty looks like, it should at least continue to provide the general principles for the provision and operation of international telecommunication services by addressing issues such as cybersecurity, quality of service, interoperability,and the fundamental right to communicate.
Of course ensuring interoperability of international telecommunications and ICT equipment is a fundamental role of the ITU that goes back to its foundation in 1865. However, achieving this today is much more difficult with its increased complexity and with so many different stakeholders involved.
Lack of conformity and interoperability is a major concern of our membership, particularly in developing countries which is why in my first term I initiated a programme to address this and I am very pleased that I have four more years to ensure that it is fully implemented.
During my first term I also strived to raise awareness of the significance of our standardization work in general but especially in relation to some of the most critical challenges of our time such as: cybersecurity; climate change; and accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities.
I look forward to working in my second term with all our membership, staff, and my elected colleagues, old and new led by our Secretary-General, to take forward these initiatives and make the ITU-T Sector even more relevant and valuable to the whole global community.