Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are coming to the close of the 2011 Session of the ITU Council. We began our debates last week with a very heavy agenda before us. I am therefore so very pleased to see that we have completed our agenda – and that we have achieved this in a cordial, friendly spirit throughout our discussions.
This year’s Council Session has been successful under the watchful gaze of Alexander Popov, in this newly refurbished Popov Room, and let me once again formally thank the Russian Federation – and in particular the Russian Minister for Communications, Mr Igor Olegovitch Shchegolev – for making this possible.
I mentioned in my opening remarks that this is a smiling room – and while there may have been some difficult moments, I think you all maintained your smiles throughout the session!
For the first time in the history of ITU, the Council was composed of 48 newly elected Members, representing 193 Member States, including our newest member, South Sudan who addressed this august assembly.
We were honoured to welcome Costa Rica, Paraguay and Rwanda, who had been elected to Council for the first time, and to welcome back Bangladesh, Greece, Kuwait and Poland, who re-joined us.
Council was also honoured by the presence of 23 Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and Ambassadors – including the Minister for South Sudan.
Our first week was brillantly chaired by Fernando Borjón who was also of course the Chairman of PP-10 in Guadalajara last year. Our second week progressed equally well under the good guidance and leadership of our Council Dean, Fabio Bigi, who served as Acting Chairman.
Let me also give thanks to our Vice-Chairman, Ahmet Cavusoglu.
This Session of Council was attended by 343 participants representing the 48 Member States of Council, 33 Member State Observers, and 7 Sector Member Observers.
We held a total of 18 meetings – 12 Plenary Meetings and 6 meetings of the Standing Committee on Aministration and Management – without the need for weekend sessions, night sessions, or indeed votes.
WORKING METHODS & INNOVATIONS
This was our third test for Council to work as far as possible in a paperless environment. And I am delighted to see that for a third time it worked again. Each year we continue to reduce our carbon footprint by using less and less paper.
Working electronically has again allowed the secretariat to enhance time to publication and to provide Councillors with quick access to documents and reports.
We hope that Councillors were satisfied with the in-sync programme to upload documents – I have heard no major concerns expressed so far, but please do let us have your feedback.
We held a number of successful information sessions on sector membership, the radio regulations portal, the ICT Discovery tour, and of course UNIDROIT.
A number of Councillors took advantage of the laptop service offered – so let me just remind them to return their laptops before they leave.
We also successfully experimented with our first remote presenter. Ms Salma Jalife was the first person to test our new system, and I am pleased to say that it worked perfectly, with of course interpretation in six languages.
With your endorsement of the action plan on electronic meetings, we expect to offer more facilities in terms of remote participation for ITU events over the coming months.
We will continue to strive to improve our services to this meeting and to the membership overall. We have noted your comments on the activities report and will make further improvements for next year.
KEY COUNCIL DECISIONS
In our nine-day session we reviewed 76 input documents, including 20 contributions from Member States. 27 formal texts were adopted on key issues. I will just highlight a few:
- We approved the biennial budget for 2012-2013 in record time! I think this is due to the transparent manner in which the budget was presented, and I thank you for your confidence.
- We agreed on ambitious operational plans for the sectors and the general secretariat to implement the strategic plan.
- We decided to convene the 5th World Telecommunication/Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum in 2013 to discuss all Internet issues in PP Resolutions 101, 102, and 133.
- We created a Council Working group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues.
- We decided the dates and venues for the WTSA, WCIT, and the next PP. We also agreed to hold WRC in 2015.
- We determined ITU’s role in WSIS+10 and agreed to organize and lead a High Level event in 2014 to look at implementation of the WSIS outcomes.
- We agreed to a model host country agreement for ITU Telecom Events.
- We endorsed our themes for the World Telecommunication and Information Society days in 2012 and 2013. Let me encourage you to join my call to action for next year’s WTISD theme, which is ‘Women and girls in ICTs’.
- We appointed our new external auditor, as well as the members of the Independent Management Advisory Committee.
- We decided to pursue a more proactive approach to sector membership issues, as well as upscaling ITU’s junior professional and internship programmes.
- We had an enriching debate on many other critical issues facing the Union, and approved many other items.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
In the immediate future we have the Broadband Leadership Summit and the 40th anniversary of ITU Telecom starting on Monday. I do hope you will stay on in Geneva and join us for these globally-important events.
And 2012 will of course be a very busy year. Among the many other events and activities, let me highlight a few:
- We have Radio Assembly and the World Radio Conference taking place in January and February;
- We have two ITU Connect events: ITU Connect Arab States in Qatar and ITU Connect Americas in Panama;
- And in November and December we have the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly and the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which are being held back-to-back in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
On behalf of all the elected officials, I would like to thank you for all your support and hard work during this session of the Council, and I look forward to our continued cooperation.
Our thanks go to the Chair, Ms Blanca Gonzalez, and Vice Chairs of the Administation and Management Standing Committee, and all the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Council Working Groups.
I would also like to thank OFCOM of Switzerland for our wonderful excursion last Sunday – as well as those Council Member States that hosted social events over the past week and a half.
I would like to thank the Russian Administration for this wonderful Popov facility, and the United Arab Emirates for the ICT Discovery.
None of our great work would be possible without the ITU staff, our most important resource. So let me publicly thank our staff for all their efforts in the preparations and organization of Council. I am so very proud of our staff!
A special thanks also to our Secretary Doreen Bogdan and her team, who once again, have done an excellent job. This comes as no surprise to us now and we continue to put all our trust in you – Well Done!
In particular, let me also thank the interpreters: your work is invisible, but absolutely invaluable.
Finally, Mr Chairman, my congratulations to you. You have steered our discussions so smoothly and ably. Your ability to summarize difficult debates and to guide us has been most impressive.
It is now my great honour to present you with the ITU Silver Medal and certificate in recognition of your outstanding leadership of the 2011 Session of the ITU Council.