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ITU World Radiocommunication Conference, Geneva, Switzerland
22 October 2007

Opening Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré


Mr Chairman,

Honourable Ministers and Vice-Ministers,

Excellencies,

Deputy Secretary-General,

Directors of BR, TSB and BDT,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I would first like to especially welcome Mr Dick Butler, former Secretary-General of ITU, who is present in this room, as well as Mr Jean Jipguep, former Deputy Secretary-General, and Mr Bob Jones, former Director of BR.

 

It is indeed a pleasure for me to address you this morning on the occasion of the opening of the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference - my first WRC in my capacity as ITU Secretary-General.

 

Allow me to congratulate you, Mr Chairman, for your election. I have no doubt that you will be up to the challenge. As I have known you personally for over 20 years, I know you will be very much capable of taking this challenge, and I take the opportunity to present to you the availability of the ITU secretariat, all elected officials and their secretariats to be at your disposal during the proceedings of this conference and beyond to facilitate your work.

 

Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, also to congratulate our friends from South Africa for their victory at the Rugby World Cup. It is indeed a pleasure to see the spirit with which the rugby cup has been won. People tend to go back far in history to try and find lessons. We need not to go that far: last week, the sportsmanship, “esprit d’équipe” and collaboration shown by the rugby teams over the world provide a very sound example for us to follow. This will be a continuation of the ITU tradition of sportsmanship, of consensus- building and cooperation among our members, and I have no doubt this spirit will be flying in this room for all these coming four weeks and beyond.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great satisfaction and opportunity for me today to address such a distinguished audience of delegates from Member States, business leaders and technical experts, and to share with you my dreams and aspirations. I am greatly honoured by the presence of some 40 ministers and deputy ministers. This is a very successful conference as it has generated a significant amount of interest from ITU membership. The ITU secretariat has received 280 documents, 2900 proposals from 3117 delegates from 153 Member States and 88 international organizations and observers.

 

As I was saying, I want to share my dreams and aspirations. Among them, of course, is the resolution of some of the key objectives of this conference, such as:

  • Identification of additional spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)
  • Revision of the Radio Regulations provisions applicable to the fixed-satellite services plan in Appendix 30B
  • Review of the international regulatory framework applicable to radiocommunications as established in Resolution 951 (WRC-03).

Why do I want to share with you my dreams and my aspirations for this organization? Allow me to start with one concern: we are only eight years away from 2015 - the target date to connect all villages, all towns and all cities of the world and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, the possibility of not meeting the MDGs is very real, but if there is a chance to meet these goals we must rely on the information and communication technologies to accelerate the process. ICTs are omnipresent tools with profound implications for all economic sectors. The way we communicate, do business or engage in leisure activities is in constant and rapid evolution. The convergence of broadcasting, telecommunication and information technologies creates more potent and effective tools. However, convergence requires a well-developed state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure. To meet this challenge, ITU and its partners have launched the Connect the World series. We will begin this year with Connect Africa. From Africa we will move to other parts of the world where ICT infrastructure is inadequate to build momentum towards achieving the MDGs. We will Connect Latin America, Connect the Arab Region, Connect Asia, Connect the Pacific, Connect the Caribbean. The decisions that you will be taking during this conference will largely contribute to improving access and development of the ICT infrastructure.

 

As part of the ITU efforts to build the Information Society, I have set another priority: emergency communications. It can take years to build ICT infrastructures and reliable networks. However, the devastating force of nature can destroy that effort in a matter of minutes, as we have seen around the globe lately. ITU was the driving force behind the Tampere Convention on Emergency Telecommunications. I am pleased to see that this conference will be considering proposals to give an effective and active role to ITU in assisting disaster relief.

 

As early as last month we concluded the 2007 session of the ITU Council. The membership demonstrated its support to the new ITU management team by approving a balanced budget, which will lead us to the next WRC through untroubled waters. In fact I declared at the end of Council 2007 this last month that the financial crisis of the organization is over. We are in a very sound financial state and the management will continue through the transparency necessary and the good governance necessary to continue this luxury, because indeed it is a luxury to be in a good financial state today. But our membership is going through the same course; the ICT field is doing well. We need to work together to ensure that we will bring the benefits of ICT to the whole globe. The achievements of the Council included many of these issues, which we brought to the table. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the ministers who, for the first time, attended the Council meeting in the High-Level Segment. We organized this for the first time, and it was very successful. I would like to thank the ministers for the vision they gave us, for the experience they shared with us, and for the advice they gave us for the future. We will make use of that in the future. These achievements will allow the Radiocommunication Sector to better concentrate on its own issues that are so relevant to the whole world and for the whole ITU membership. For the first time the Council discussed the issues of the digital divide and cybersecurity, through the High-Level Segment, which was attended by 12 ministers.

 

The Council also concluded with all the pending issues relating to the financial aspects of satellite cost-recovery. As you know, this was a long-standing issue of the Union and we are glad that, as a result, we have now a much more coherent set of rules. The proof is that there are no pending invoices today on satellite network cost-recovery.

 

We have settled all our problems. We are facing the world as one united family, in the spirit of the founding fathers of this Union, the oldest of the United Nations family, who 142 years ago, dreamed of a united world. That is why they called it a union, and the spirit of the Union has continued.

 

ITU should continue to be at the forefront of science and technology. As I said at the closing of RA-07 last week, I believe that nanotechnology will be one of the technologies of the near future - I will even say, the technology of today. I hope that ITU will continue this way. The achievements that you make will continue to bring our contribution to the advancement of science and technology for a better life for our citizens.

 

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

 

The members of the new ITU management team have demonstrated a resolute will in our endeavour to reach the Union’s goals. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Deputy Secretary-General, Mr Zhao, the Director of TSB, Mr Johnson, the Director of BR, Mr Timofeev, and the Director of BDT, Mr Al-Basheer, for the teamwork, for the support they have given me over the past 10 months. The Union would not succeed if the management team is not united. The Union would not be a union if its management is not a union. I am very pleased and, as I declared during the Council, I would not have had a better team if I was to pick a deputy and the Directors myself. This is a federal structure; we are all elected by the plenipotentiary conference. But I am pleased to tell you that the chemistry is second to none, and therefore I have no doubt that together we will continue to fulfill the mission that you have entrusted to us.

 

I am confident that the efforts of the Union will be successful due to the exemplary team spirit demonstrated so far, like in a champion rugby team. I am sure that you will also succeed in your deliberations during this conference, in the best traditions of rugby, demonstrating strength, diligence and a sense of purpose, aided by the best talents of all ITU delegates and the best balance of the secretariat. I am proud to have the best team here: the ITU staff. The ITU secretariat is composed of very talented, bright and committed staff members, and I am simply very pleased to be one of their team members. We will make this conference succeed with the art of compromise. This art of compromise is not new to this organization. Therefore, I have no doubt that, together, despite the very high issues that are at stake for this conference, we will succeed. The whole world is watching out there, is waiting. Despite all that, we will succeed in this conference and I want to wish you a very, very successful WRC-07.

 

 

 

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