Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to welcome you here on behalf of the Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré, who cannot unfortunately be with us today.
Many of you will have heard the sad news that our former Secretary-General, Richard Butler, passed away on 23 June, at the age of 86.
Richard Butler was Deputy Secretary-General from 1968 to 1982, and Secretary-General from 1983 to 1989. Even after leaving ITU he continued to play a very active role in ITU’s work, right up to just a few weeks ago. Indeed, he was here for RA-12 and WRC-12, earlier this year, and he will be missed by all of us.
Let me therefore ask you to stand and give a minute’s silence for Richard Butler.
There is a condolences book for Richard Butler outside this room, and I invite you to take advantage of this to share your memories of this fine man. The book will be passed on to his family after the closing of this year’s session of Council.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The week before last saw the final meeting of the Council Working Group on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).
Dr Touré has asked me to repeat a couple of messages in particular.
Firstly, Article 33 of the ITU’s Constitution states that, Member States recognize the right of the public to correspond by means of the international service of public correspondence.
And the ITRs can only go along with that provision.
There is also some misunderstanding about the applicability of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), and the role of ITU.
As we all know, ITU has an important role to play in the future, as it did in the past, to facilitate the continued growth of telecommunications. The revision of the ITRs is therefore a normal and integral part of our work.
What we are aiming for is a treaty that will benefit everybody and which will bring us closer to our goal of ‘Connecting the World’.
In addition, there is a misperception that the ITRs – or by implication ITU – will impose some sort of global regulatory regime; because the provisions of the treaty will be applicable according to the decisions of national jurisdictions.
What we have with WCIT is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness the power of ICTs to deliver sustainable social and economic benefits in every nation, and across every sector.
So let us not be distracted from the real issues on the table!
- Human right of access to communications;
- Security in the use of ICTs;
- Protection of critical national resources;
- International frameworks;
- Charging and accounting, including taxation;
- Interconnection and interoperability;
- Quality of service; and
Following the most recent meeting, we have now seen climate change and accessibility added as two important issues to be debated.
The real issue therefore is how best to cooperate – to ensure:
- The free flow of information;
- The continued development of broadband;
- Continuing investment in networks, services and applications;
- And perhaps most importantly – in this very fast-moving world – continuing innovation.
These are clearly principles that we need to deal with at an international level.
In the preparation for WTSA and WCIT later this year, I noted that the regional organizations actively contributed to the process of consultations among the members in their regions. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank the regional organizations for their help in hosting the regional preparatory meetings – which as always have been an excellent tool for allowing the regions to harmonize their proposals. This will make a huge difference to the workload in Dubai in December.
Now, to the rest of the mandate of this meeting.
I note that TSAG had a meeting in January this year, which I missed. This meeting is the second meeting of TSAG this year. It is the last one before the WTSA-2012, which will be held in Dubai, in November 2012.
As a former Director of TSB myself, I am aware of the vital role that the last meeting of TSAG plays in guiding the work of ITU-T – and in ensuring that ITU-T is the most attractive place in the world to come to do ICT standards work.
To this end – and in recognition of the increasingly dynamic environment we work in – TSAG was coordinating for the overhaul of ITU-T’s working methods so that approval procedures could be streamlined. It was also recommending the free distribution of ITU-T Recommendations. These have been two very important decisions of recent years.
These and other innovations that Malcolm Johnson has been able to bring will keep ITU-T at the forefront of standards bodies and will help maintain ITU’s position as the leading global agency for ICTs.
I am pleased to advise you that at the B20 meeting prior to the G20 meeting recently held in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), both at which I participated, the importance of the ICT has been highlighted with support from Heads of States and the global family. The output document of the Rio+20 has several important references to ICT, particularly §§ 44 and 65, noting that at the beginning of 2012, no reference was made to ICT in the consolidated base document. I believe we can promote the ICT as well as to promote ITU, from this new standing point.
And so with that let me leave you in the wise and capable hands of the Chairman and Malcolm Johnson. I can assure you that the ITU Secretary-General and all the elected officials have full confidence in the team spirit that prevails here.
I wish you a very successful meeting.
Thank you; thank you all.