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Second Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum
 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
12 November 2007

Opening Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

It is a pleasure and an honor to have been invited to address the Opening Ceremony at this, the Second Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum.


As the former Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (ITU-D) and now as Secretary-General of the ITU, issues of ICT Development are close to my heart, and am very happy to note that the IGF has adopted a focus on developing countries as a central element in this Second IGF Meeting.


Several times since I have become the ITU Secretary-General, it has been rumored that ITU wants to “take over” Internet Governance. I wish to reiterate what I have stated several times over recent months: ITU does not want to take over anything. We are not talking about ITU “taking over” Internet governance. We are talking about ITU fulfilling its existing mandate from Member States to contribute to the growth of the Information Society in an open and inclusive manner.


There are, however, pressing public policy issues related to the Internet and Internet governance that must be addressed and resolved, and for which Member States, in particular certain developing countries, have requested the assistance of ITU.


For example: How can the Internet play an even more important role in social and economic development? ITU has carried out a considerable body of work into the optimal regulatory policies to promote the roll-out of national broadband networks (both fixed and wireless). And yet, urgent issues remain as to how countries can reduce connectivity costs to upstream providers and make blocks of spectrum available to facilitate the roll-out of high-speed wireless networks such as WiMAX. How can we best foster competition with the deregulation services that have traditionally been regulated in the past? How can all stake-holders cooperate in pragmatic ways to deal with cross-border cybersecurity and spam issues?
 
Alongside partners from governments, industry, regional/international organizations and academic and research institutions, on 17 May 2007 I launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, a global framework for dialogue and international cooperation aimed at proposing strategies for solutions to enhance security and confidence in the information society. The Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) will unite existing initiatives and partners with the objective of proposing global strategies to address today’s challenges in the fight against cybercrime and to maintain cyberpeace.


How we can improve and work together to build – really and concretely – an all inclusive Information Society? These are all issues where ITU has been carrying out work to provide technical support and advice and technical assistance to Member States.
 
One of ITU’s key roles is in standards development. Our work on DSL and cable wireline broadband standards has made end-user broadband a reality for hundreds of millions of users over the last few years. ITU-T developed X.509 as the definitive reference Recommendation for electronic authentication over public networks in Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). ITU is now carrying out vital work establishing standards for “New Generation Networks” or NGN based on Internet Protocol technologies that will eventually replace the current Public Switched Telephone Network. ITU is also conducting a number of related work programmes with global scope in areas such as IPTV, cybersecurity, multimedia coding (using ITU voice and video standards).
 
At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Member States urged ITU to continue to study the issue of international Internet connectivity on an urgent basis. You will find a summary of this work in the ITU contribution submitted to the present IGF meeting.  In parallel, we shall be following up activities that can help developing countries mitigate the high costs of international internet connectivity — for example, by assisting developing countries to build national and regional Internet backbones, including Internet Exchange Points.


Through its Development Sector, ITU is assisting developing countries in using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as an engine for accelerated development, social and economic development, national prosperity and global competitiveness. The Connect the World initiative is based on building multi-stakeholder to achieve bold targets in ICT connectivity.


 Finally, ITU plays an important role in capacity-building in ICTs and in providing a forum for the discussion of urgent policy issues, by means of events such as the Global Symposium for Regulators and World Telecommunication Policy Forums, WSIS Thematic Meetings and workshops on Internet Governance, Cybersecurity and spam, among other subjects.
 
For this Second IGF Meeting, we are promoting participation by developing countries by giving the opportunity to nearly 20 people from the 15 developing countries and 4 continents to contribute to the discussion, through a generous voluntary contribution from the Government of Canada, which deserves our special thanks.
 
But this is not enough; only international coordination and cooperation, with the involvement of the whole ICT community, can enable us to achieve the WSIS goals set up for 2015.
 
In summary, what is needed is next generation “Internet governance”: the development of an enabling environment that assists governments to foster a supportive, transparent, pro-competitive policy, as well as a legal and regulatory framework to provide appropriate incentives for investment and community development in the Information Society.  What is needed is the development of an overarching and enduring architecture based on national policy, legal and regulatory initiatives, with intergovernmental collaboration and capacity-building. Efforts must be made towards finding common international technical and policy approaches to promote an enabling environment globally offering the maximum benefits to society.

 

 

 

 

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