ITU

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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) : WSISI+10 High Level Event

COP Partners Meeting : Welcoming Remarks


09 June 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour to be with you today to open the COP Partners Meeting – and let me give a special thank you and a special welcome to ITU COP Special Envoy, Deborah Tate. She has shown wonderful leadership in advocating for children's rights and their need for protection in the online world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thanks to your support and commitment, and with the help of your resources, invaluable expertise, and activities, we have achieved a lot in recent years in creating a safer online environment for the younger generations.

I am sure all of you remember the beginning of this journey: six years ago, when COP was established. The issue of protecting children online was not at that time centre stage, and only a few entities were active in pushing the topic to the forefront of discussion.

When we originally launched this initiative, I felt that it was really important to make sure that we involved the leading organizations that were already fighting to make a difference, and this is why we called upon you to join this network, and why we continue to count on your expertise.

Today, looking globally, child online safety is much higher on the political agenda of many countries, and has become a top priority for a wide variety of stakeholders, including businesses and financial institutions.

Let us therefore commend you for the work you have already done, and for the positive impacts we have already seen from your projects and activities.

Together we have produced the four sets of Guidelines, and recently we embarked on updating the Guidelines for Industry.

The new version will provide guidance to companies on designing products and services that children can use safely online and will also help in identifying, preventing and mitigating any potential adverse impacts of their products and services on children's rights.

They will also provide guidance to companies on identifying ways in which they might promote children's rights and facilitate positive digital citizenship.

We have also strengthened important partnerships with key stakeholders, including UNICEF, Trend Micro, Facebook, and The Walt Disney Company, as well as many other leading organizations working in this area – because cooperation and partnership are essential to establishing the foundations for safer and more secure use of ICTs for future generations.

We are also working with our partners in various regions of the world, especially in developing countries, to raise awareness and to support them in the implementation of COP frameworks, measures, and tools.

Distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Together we have come a long way.

However, much still needs to be done.

Keeping children safe online is increasingly a major worry for parents, with fully half of them complaining that the sheer amount of access their child has to the internet, through multiple devices, leaves them struggling to monitor online behaviour.

In addition, 40% of parents say they would not know how to respond if their child fell victim to cyberbullies, and 40% also did not know how to set up protective filters on computers, tablets or mobile phones.

Today, almost a third of countries still have no legislation in place addressing child online protection, and two fifths of countries still have no set mechanisms to report online child sexual abuse material.

With this in mind, rather than working on a project basis I believe that it is important to clearly define our common vision – a common vision that can really help all of us as a global community to maximize and visualize our impact and align our actions in protecting children online, as well as actively contributing to the post 2015 development agenda.

How we define such a vision, and work together towards it, will be part of the important discussions that we will commence today.

This is our responsibility, and we need to act now.

Here, in ITU, I can reassure you that we will continue to give our greatest efforts to reinforcing the COP partnership, and this of course is the reason we are all here today: to improve the lives of each and every child, in providing a safer online environment.

These children are our future.

Let me therefore close these brief remarks by wishing you a successful meeting, and I look forward to further discussions.

And with that, let me pass the floor to Deborah Tate.

Thank you.