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Second Meeting of the United Nations Group on the Information Society
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France
17 July 2007

Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

 

Introduction

As Chairman of the United Nations Group on the Information Society during its inaugural year, it a great pleasure to be here this morning at UNESCO to address this second meeting of the Group.

WSIS has been an important landmark in the global effort to eradicate poverty and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015. WSIS has placed ICTs at the center of the UN Agenda.

A few weeks ago, I had the honour to welcome UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon to the ITU. I was very pleased to learn that ICTs were one of his 6 priorities. 

 

On WSIS implementation

WSIS created a very rich and diverse mechanism for implementation and follow up of the Summit. We are still fine-tuning that model to find the best and most efficient arrangements.

At the end of the second cluster of WSIS related events last May, ITU, UNESCO and UNDP convened the second WSIS Action Line Facilitator meeting. A number of suggestions were made on how the Action Line process could be improved and be more inclusive.

I proposed that each Action Line set up concrete measurable targets and objectives. 

We should also avoid redundancy and excess reporting burdens. We should concentrate on action, be result-oriented and measure our progress.

There must be a sense of urgency, as we only have 7 years to meet the connectivity targets agreed to in Geneva.

I believe that the Action Lines are the engines that will turn the WSIS principles and goals into concrete actions. The Action Line implementation process is a multi stakeholder process that will demonstrate the inclusiveness and relevance of the UN.   As UN agencies are the main facilitators of the Action Lines, the members of UNGIS must take the lead role.

 

On UNGIS

UNGIS has been established under CEB to coordinate the implementation of WSIS outcomes by UN Agencies and programmes. It is primarily an internal management mechanism for the UN system.

UNGIS is a tool to work together as a family, to avoid efforts to seek credit and to prevent the types of turf battles that often plague UN system endeavors, I salute the initiatives taken by the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Matsuura at the CEB level on UN reform, one UN and how UN should be efficient.  

During this first inaugural year, the foundation of the Group has been laid down for UNGIS to become an efficient communication channel among UN Organizations active in WSIS implementation.  UNGIS can help UN agencies mainstream the results of WSIS and ICT programs in their mandate and activities.

However UNGIS should not overlap the WSIS Action Line Implementation and should recognize that the Action Lines are a multi-stakeholder process. It should support the Action Line process. We should ensure during this meeting that we discuss the ways and means to make good use of both the Action Lines process and UNGIS, to avoid duplications but keeping the best of each.

I believe that

  • UNGIS should advise and assist CEB by identifying cross cutting themes for policy review and public communication campaigns and as such be the public window on UN actions in the field of ICTs.
  • UNGIS should bring key ICT issues to the attention of CEB.  One such issue is cybersecurity.
  • UNGIS should ensure that ICTs remain at the centre of the UN development agenda.  A key focus is building affordable access and connectivity.
  • UNGIS should be an example of UN cooperation, enhance UN system wide policy coherence and in so doing contribute to UN Reform.

On ITU Chairmanship

At the first meeting held on 14 July 2006 in ITU, we agreed on key initiatives to be undertaken as well as a work plan.

Since then,

  • The links between UNGIS and the other entities involved in WSIS implementation and follow-up have been clarified.
  • The image of UNGIS has taken shape with the creation of its own logo and website.
  • A mapping of UN Agencies activities in the field of ICTs is well underway, based on the WSIS stocktaking and the responses to the questionnaires we sent.
  • Issue of Action Lines Facilitation meetings and UNGIS: avoid duplications (recognize the inclusiveness of the Action Lines).

I would also like to thank UNESCO, UNDP and WHO for their cooperation as Vice Chairs of the Group during this first year and to all Members that have provided information about their activities.

As I turn-over the Chairmanship of the Group to UNESCO I am pleased that UNGIS is well-established and ready to play it role in fostering recognition of the importance of ICTs as a critical tool in development policies and as an essential element in the global UN Development Agenda.  UNGIS can help the UN system play a key role in building the Information Society.

I wish you a successful meeting.

 

 

 

 

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