Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you here this morning at the International Peace Institute, and to be part of such a distinguished panel.
I would like to take this opportunity to make two brief points – one concerning multi-stakeholderism, and the other concerning the upcoming World Conference on International Communications, WCIT-12.
Concerning multi-stakeholderism, I was pleased to see a statement in the concept note for this forum saying that ‘the current multi-stakeholder governance model of the Internet … needs to be defended and strengthened’.
Why was I pleased?
I was pleased because ITU – which it is my privilege to lead – can truly be said to have invented the concept of multi-stakeholderism.
We are a unique organization in bringing together 193 Member States and over 700 Members from the private sector, academia, international and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.
So let me add my voice of support to the notion that the current multi-stakeholder model – which was advocated by the World Summit on the Information Society, WSIS – must be defended and strengthened.
Concerning WCIT-12, I do not want to take up a lot of your time, but I do want to take this opportunity to dispel perhaps the most persistent and certainly the most pernicious myth that is being associated with the Conference – which is that ITU (or the United Nations) is trying to take over the Internet.
To be rather blunt, this is clearly ridiculous.
It is not for the ITU Secretariat, but for the Member States to make proposals – and for the conference to then decide what ITU’s position will be on these proposals.
Just like other ITU conferences, WCIT-12 will work towards achieving consensus on the proposals which are put before it.
In the unlikely event of a vote it will be on a one-country-one-vote principle.
So no proposal is going to be passed if it does not have very wide support from all involved.
My role, as Secretary-General of ITU – and the role of the ITU Secretariat – is simply to facilitate the dialogue and to ensure that the conference is properly prepared and staged.
So what is WCIT-12 all about?
Simply put, WCIT-12 is about putting ICTs in the hands of all the world’s people.
It is about:
- The free flow of information;
- Promoting affordable and equitable access for all, including people with disabilities;
- The continued development of broadband – including an increased focus on energy efficiency and combatting climate change;
- Continuing investment in networks, services and applications;
- And perhaps most importantly – in this very fast-moving world – continuing to promote a harmonious and conducive international environment that drives innovation.
At the request of our Membership, important topics on the table include affordability – reducing the cost of international mobile roaming; how to prevent fraud; misuse of the telephone numbering system; and the empowerment of consumers.
I think we can all agree that access to ICTs should be affordable and equitable to all the world’s people – and that all the world’s people should be able to take advantage of the benefits of ICTs.
The real question before WCIT is how best can the International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs, which came into force almost 25 years ago, be adapted to deal with the changed world we live in.
And this is a question that I am confident that ITU’s membership – and not ITU’s Secretariat – is very well equipped to answer.
Ladies and gentlemen,
WCIT-12 is a tremendous opportunity to make the world a better place for all.
It has the potential to bring ICTs within affordable reach of all of the planet’s seven billion inhabitants.
It has the potential to deliver sustainable social and economic development in every country, on every continent.
And it has the potential to open up new streams of revenue for businesses, and to promote the creation of new business models.
The 1988 ITRs provided the foundations for the so-called ‘mobile miracle’, and set us on the road to the information society of today.
And I firmly believe that WCIT-12 will create the right conditions for a ‘broadband miracle’, and will set us on the road to the knowledge society of tomorrow.