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WCIT-12: ITU Secretary-General urges governments to engage their stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard


Geneva, 16 November 2012 – ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré today called for governments to engage with a broad range of stakeholders from across industry and civil society to ensure all voices are heard at the forthcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) which takes place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 3-14 December 2012.

This landmark conference will review the current International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), which serve as the binding global treaty designed to facilitate global interconnection and interoperability of information and communication services, as well as ensuring their efficiency and widespread public usefulness and availability.

The treaty sets out general principles for ensuring the free flow of information around the world and promoting affordable and equitable access for all.

“ITU Member States are entirely free to determine the size and composition of their national delegations. We are delighted to see some governments taking a broad multi-stakeholder approach by including key private sector players and civil society groups as part of their national representation to the conference – a trend ITU applauds and encourages,” said Dr Touré.

During the two-week WCIT-12 conference, delegations from ITU’s 193 Member States will debate revisions to the current treaty to ensure it better meets the needs of 21st century networks and users. Proposals to the conference include ways to accelerate the global roll-out of broadband (with an increased focus on energy efficiency and cutting e-waste); initiatives to further promote accessibility of technology to persons with disabilities; support for continuing investment in networks, services and applications; strategies to address high cost of mobile roaming and taxation of international telecommunications services; and the need for a harmonious and conducive international environment that drives future innovation.

As a member of the United Nations family, ITU maintains its commitment to upholding the fundamental principles of freedom of expression as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in Article 33 of the ITU’s own Constitution (which takes legal precedence over the ITR treaty). Tunisia, crucible of the Arab Spring, has put forward a proposal to explicitly include such text in the revised ITRs. This proposal is supported by many.

In response to a recent open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon jointly signed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Greenpeace expressing concern over some proposals, Dr Touré was pleased to reply in writing, as well as to meet with ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and her team in Geneva on 15 November to clarify the WCIT process.

During the discussions, he was able to dispel some widespread misunderstandings, most notably regarding the nature of the full compendium of proposals that constitute the output of the WCIT-12 preparatory process. Within ITU, there is a key principle giving any Member State the sovereign right to make any proposal to the conference. The Member States at the conference itself will then discuss whether each proposal falls within the conference’s purview.

Dr Touré pointed the ITUC to the full compilation of proposals on the ITU website; some informally distributed versions prepared by external bodies currently in circulation have been found to be inaccurate.

He also emphasized the fact that ITU is organizing the WCIT-12 conference at the behest of its members, which include 193 countries worldwide.

During the course of the meeting Dr Touré extended an invitation to ITUC to become a Sector Member of ITU.

The current ITRs were last negotiated in Melbourne, Australia in 1988, and bind 178 countries.

A FAQ, a comprehensive set of Background Briefs covering the main discussion topics and a WCIT Myth Buster presentation can be found at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/WCIT-backgroundbriefs.aspx.

The main conference preparatory document can be found at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Documents/draft-future-itrs-public.pdf.

The current ITRs can be found at: www.itu.int/oth/T3F01000001.

The main WCIT-12 Newsroom can be found at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/newsroom.aspx.

Note to editors:

ITU is unique within the UN family in having some 700 private sector members in addition to 193 Member States. All have been actively engaged in the WCIT-12 preparatory process, which has been underway for some years. In addition, in August, ITU set up a public consultation website open to all stakeholders in six languages. ITU has also held three global briefings (supporting remote participation from anywhere around the world) open to media, analysts and civil society, all of which have been well-attended. An extensive compilation of background materials are available in six languages at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/WCIT-backgroundbriefs.aspx.

Media accreditation

Official accreditation is essential to attend this UN event. Accreditation formally closes at 17:00 CET, 23 November 2012. There will be no accreditation onsite, and strictly no admittance to the venue without an event badge.

To apply for accreditation, or for more information, please visit: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/media-accreditation.aspx.

Official UN press accreditation is valid, but UN-accredited media must register in order to obtain an event badge. Please contact wcitpressreg@itu.int.

Journalists and analysts who have already formally accredited for ITU events in 2012 and whose details have not changed since accreditation do not need to resubmit accreditation credentials, but still need to register for an event badge at:

WCIT-12 is organized by ITU and hosted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of UAE.

For more information on the event, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
tel +41 22 730 6135
email sarah.parkes@itu.int 
Noor M. Shamma
Media Relations Manager
Corporate Communications Affairs
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, UAE
tel +971 2 611 8260
email noor.shamma@tra.gov.ae   

For media accreditation enquiries, please contact:

Soraya Abino Quintana
tel +41 22 730 5424
email wcitpressreg@itu.int 


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