Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to address these closing remarks to you at ITU Council 2012.
Our Council session this year has been brilliantly chaired by Ahmet Cavusoglu from Turkey who not only led the Council to a successful conclusion, but did so in record time.
I would also like to convey my sincere thanks to Blanca Gonzalez, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Administration and Management, and the Vice-Chairs, Caroline Greenway from Australia and Marcin Krasuski from Poland. As a team, they finished the work of the Standing Committee well ahead of schedule.
Thanks are also due to the chairs of the several ad hoc groups set up during the Council who led discussions to a very successful conclusion.
This Session of Council was attended by 341 participants representing the 48 Member States of Council, 31 Member State Observers, and 7 Sector Member Observers.
Among the participants this year, Council was very pleased to welcome Ministers from Costa Rica, Ghana and the Russian Federation.
We held a total of 13 meetings – 10 Plenary Meetings and 3 meetings of the Standing Committee on Administration and Management – without the need for weekend sessions, night sessions, or indeed votes.
WORKING METHODS & INNOVATIONS
It has now become standard practice at Council to be paper smart. I am delighted to see that our efforts to work in a paperless environment continue to pay off each year, as 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.
The AllSync programme used to download Council documents has become an indispensible tool and, according to reports, is very much appreciated by Councillors.
We held a number of successful information sessions on WCIT, WSIS, Remote participation, Accessibility, HR reporting and a very successful World Café on ‘Engendering Change’ – the first event of its kind to be held in conjunction with a session of Council.
A number of Councillors took advantage of the laptop service offered – so let me just remind them to return their laptops before they leave; thank you in advance.
We also continued to successfully pilot remote participation and presentations. This began with an inspired intervention from Fernando Borjón, who opened the 2012 session remotely from Mexico. Later on we also had a remote report from Salma Jalife, also from Mexico, who presented the report of the Council Working Group on a Stable Constitution.
I am pleased to say that all worked well, with interpretation provided in all six official languages.
We expect to offer more facilities in terms of remote participation for ITU events over the coming months, and we will continue to strive to improve our services to Council and to the membership overall.
KEY COUNCIL DECISIONS
During our six and a half day session – a first in the history of ITU – we reviewed 78 input documents, including 21 contributions from Member States. 19 formal texts were adopted on key issues.
Let me highlight just a few of these:
We agreed on ambitious operational plans for the sectors and for the general secretariat to implement the strategic plan;
We also decided on the precise dates of the 5th World Telecommunication / Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum in 2013, where we will discuss the issues covered by PP-10 Resolutions 101, 102, and 133. All stakeholders are invited to participate in the experts’ group that is helping me to prepare the content for the conference;
We decided on the venue, dates and agenda for WRC-15;
We agreed on the modality for the multi-stakeholder Open Consultation for the Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet);
We decided to provide free online access, on a trial basis, to the Administrative Regulations;
We established an additional deadline for the submission of contributions to the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012, WCIT-12, to allow Member States appropriate time to review proposals to the conference;
In regards to WCIT-12, we also took a landmark decision to open access to TD 64, and unanimously agreed that a publicly accessible webpage, where all stakeholders can express their views and opinions on WCIT-related matters, will be established on the ITU website;
We endorsed a challenging action plan for conformance and interoperability;
We fine-tuned the ITU role in the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society;
We agreed on the principle of attendance of Regional Telecommunication Organizations as Observers at Council;
And we signed the host country agreements with the United Arab Emirates for the ITU Telecom World 2012, WTSA-12 and WCIT-12 events later this year.
We also had a positive and enriching debate on many other critical issues facing the Union, and were able to approve a number of other important items on the agenda.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
As you are well aware, the rest of this year continues to be very busy for the Union, and I expect this pattern to be repeated over the coming years as well.
In addition to the work schedule of our Study Groups, let me highlight a few notable events and activities bringing us to the end of 2012:
Next week, of course, we have the ITU Connect Americas Summit in Panama;
In October, we will be holding the Global Symposium for Regulators, the GSR, in Colombo, Sri Lanka;
In October we will also be hosting a high-level roundtable discussion to discuss the increase of Standard Essential Patent litigation, and its impact on the standardization process in the ICT sector. This will bring together standard-setting organizations, industry representatives and government officials to open a dialogue with all stakeholders on a global issue affecting the industry. These matters are of utmost importance to the ICT sector and ITU is pleased to be taking a leadership role in these matters.
This will be followed by three key global ICT events in Dubai: ITU Telecom World 2012, from 14 to 18 October; the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, from 20 to 29 November; and the World Conference on International Telecommunications, from 3 to 14 December.
We also have major events coming up beyond 2012 which we are already working on, including:
The World Telecommunication Policy Forum, WTPF-13, next May;
The World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2014;
The Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014;
The Radiocommunication Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015;
And of course ITU’s 150th anniversary, also in 2015.
Let me close on a positive note.
Last week, during my State of the Union address, I voiced my concern that we should not become a polarized or divisive organization, and I suggested that we use this session of Council as a test of our willingness to work together in the honourable ITU traditions of trust and consensus.
And I am absolutely delighted that we have successfully embraced the true spirit of ITU:
The spirit of agreement not discord;
The spirit of consensus not contentiousness;
The spirit of reconciliation, not antagonism;
And the spirit of trust, not scepticism.
This Council was an excellent demonstration of how we continue to build on our long and honourable history of working together, to facilitate technical and technological progress, with trust and faith in one another.
We have been true to the spirit of the Union, to the spirit that brings us together here for the common good, with our shared goals and shared aspirations.
So let me thank you for that.
In closing I would like to say a special thank you to the ITU staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, as well as to the interpreters for making our interactions possible.
We sincerely appreciate it.