Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré
ITU Council 2014 : Information Session on the preparation of the 150th Anniversary Celebration
ITU 150 : How to get involved ?
08 May 2014, Geneva, Switzerland
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me welcome you to this information session on the Preparation of the 150th anniversary of ITU.
As you know, we are oldest international organization in the world – we were founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union; we joined the United Nations in 1947; and we will celebrate our 150th anniversary next year.
To look back on 150 years of successful international co-operation, as we can do at ITU, is a unique privilege.
150 years is only a brief interval in the recorded history of mankind. Yet those 150 years have been extraordinarily significant in terms of human progress and discovery.
One of the most remarkable advances of the past 150 years has been the incredible increase in both the speed and variety of human communications.
First we saw the telegraph and the telephone, then radio and television, followed by satellite communications and the internet – heralding a new era of ubiquitous connectivity over the past twenty years.
It is difficult to imagine how we communicated in 1865 – with no phones, no email, no instant messaging or SMS. Even the telegraph wasn’t available for personal use, so the most common method of long-distance communication back then was to send letters carried on horseback or by ship.
The exponential growth of science and technology over the past 150 years is fascinating – and it is part of ITU’s story.
2015 will be a commemoration year that we wish to celebrate with all our members – including governments, private companies, and other stakeholders.
Several actions have already been undertaken by Council and by the General Secretariat:
- ITU Council 2013 created a Council Committee as a platform for gathering opinions and ideas about the planning of events. This Committee has met twice, and the chair, Nasser Bin Hammad, will present his report during the plenary session this afternoon;
- The General Secretariat has started work on the anniversary preparations within an inter-sectoral preparatory group to study the activities, financing and time-planning for the celebrations;
- An awareness campaign has been launched, and information sessions such as this one are being organized at all major events in 2014, to promote the anniversary celebrations as widely as possible, and to mobilize our members to participate actively;
- A special fund and sponsoring programme have been set up to seek support for the celebration events from members and other stakeholders. Doreen Bogdan and Christopher Clark will tell you more about this in a moment.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude these brief remarks by encouraging you to get involved in this important milestone in ITU’s history; and to consider the measures you can take yourselves to organize national celebrations and organize full participation in the anniversary events next year.
It is important for us to celebrate ‘ITU 150’ with all our members and stakeholders.
An information counter is available outside this meeting room, and staff are on hand to discuss how you can contribute to make the anniversary a big success.
Let me therefore thank you for your presence and interest, and in particular let me thank the chair, Nasser Bin Hammad, for his work on the Council Committee.