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19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference closes
with celebration of new spirit of cooperation

Delegates elect new management team, approve four-year Strategic and
Financial plans, establish the Connect 2020 Agenda and extend Union’s
mandate to new areas including gender & youth

Busan, 07 November 2014 — ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference closed its doors today with delegates from around the world resoundingly reaffirming ITU’s essential role in global ICT development, and extending the Union’s mandate in emerging areas including harnessing ICTs to promote gender empowerment and to help address urgent issues such as youth unemployment, global disease control and aeronautical safety.

The conference attracted a record 2,505 delegates from 171 countries. Dignitaries present included the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, 76 government ministers, 36 deputy ministers, and 56 ambassadors.

The positive climate of collaboration that pervaded the marathon three-week negotiations was hailed by all delegates as a bright new chapter in ITU’s solid 150-year history as the world’s impartial global steward of shared ICT resources.

PP-14 further strengthened ITU’s mandate across existing work areas including bridging the digital divide, strategies to accelerate broadband roll-out, green ICT strategies to help combat climate change, the role of ICTs in disaster response, and the use of ICTs to promote accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The conference also agreed new areas of work, including the addition of an agenda item for the forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference on spectrum allocations for improved flight tracking, and collaborative work to harness the power of ICTs to combat the Ebola epidemic and future global health crises.

The Conference formally adopted ITU’s Strategic Plan 2016-2019 and the Financial Plan for the same period. Both will help the Union implement the decisions of the conference during the next four years until the 2018 Plenipotentiary, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates.

In his valedictory address to assembled delegates on Thursday 6 November, outgoing Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré told delegates that the Busan conference represented a new coming together of countries determined to collaborate even more closely, as ICTs increasingly serve as the cornerstone of global economic and social development.

“ICTs are playing a vital role in each and every one of the great challenges facing humanity, from the MDGs and the SDGs to climate change, healthcare, education and good governance,” he said. “In the 21st century, ICTs are always part of the solution.”

NEW SPIRIT OF CONSENSUS

The conference took place from 20 October to 7 November at BEXCO conference and exhibition centre in the heart of Korea’s second city, Busan, under the expert chairmanship of Mr Wonki Min, Assistant Minister at Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

“PP-14 accomplished so much and produced so many fruitful outcomes,” said Mr Min. “Over 400 proposals were submitted to the conference by ITU Member States, generating thousands of hours of negotiations, with small drafting groups often meeting through the weekends and evenings,” he said.

Mr Min went on to congratulate delegates for their strong commitment to finding global consensus. “ITU has a long tradition of consensus-building, but it is not until you experience it in person that you really understand and appreciate how effective and valuable this tradition is,” he said.

At the official closing ceremony this afternoon, the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi Yanghee noted that “PP-14 came at a critical time, with ITU celebrating its 150th anniversary next year, so it was an especially great honour for Korea. Korea promises to play its role with a grave sense of responsibility in contributing to future ICT development in partnership with ITU.”

His address was followed by a speech from Busan City Mayor SUH Byung-soo, who expressed his satisfaction with the choice of Busan as host city for the PP-14 conference. “During PP-14, the Republic of Korea and the City of Busan have been at the centre of the global ICT arena. Our city was very fortunate to have the eyes of the world on us as this year’s host city, and I hope that the City of Busan will be remembered not only as the venue for PP-14, but also as the site where a historic milestone for the development of mankind was achieved.”

CONFERENCE STRUCTURE

This year’s conference comprised three substantive working committees:

Committee 5 (Policy & Legal) chaired by Frédéric Riehl of Switzerland

Committee 6 (Administration & Management) chaired by Caroline Greenway of Australia

The Working Group of the Plenary chaired by Musab Abdullah of Bahrain.

The statutory committees of PP-14 comprised Committee 1 (Steering) chaired by Wonki Min (Republic of Korea); Committee 2 (Credentials) chaired by Timofey Kim (Kazakhstan); Committee 3 (Budget Control) chaired by Paarock Vanpercy (Ghana); and Committee 4 (Editorial) chaired by Imad Hoballah (Lebanon).

MAIN OUTCOMES & ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Approval of the Strategic Plan and Financial Plan for 2016-2019, which sets out the Union’s workplan and funding for the coming four-year period.
  • A new ‘Connect 2020’ resolution that sets out a clear vision and shared objectives for the future of the ICT sector through measurable new statistical targets.
  • Revisions to key resolutions on Internet-related matters (Resolutions 101, 102, 133 and 180) which further enhance ITU’s engagement with all stakeholders. In an important change to previous working methods, ITU’s Council Working Group on International internet-related public policy issues has been empowered by this Plenipotentiary to conduct both physical and online consultations, allowing the group to benefit from perspectives brought by stakeholders from all nations.
  • Renewed emphasis on the need for affordable international Internet connectivity for all the world’s people, as well as the importance of nurturing a truly multilingual Internet.
  • A decision to open the Working Group on Child Online Protection to all stakeholders, underlining ITU members’ global commitment to ensuring safety and confidence online.
  • Agreement to maintain the contributory unit for ITU Member States at CHF 318,000 for the period 2016-2019.
  • Other notable new and modified resolutions included:
    • initiatives to identify global spectrum to facilitate flight tracking
    • using the power of ICTs to combat Ebola
    • ITU’s first resolution on youth and ICTs
    • strengthening of Resolution 70 on ICTs and gender equality
    • combating counterfeit ICT devices
    • measures to promote development of software-defined networks
    • ongoing work on technologies to support the ‘Internet of Things’
    • the setting up of an Expert Group on the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs)

For the first time since 1992, the conference made no amendments to the ITU Constitution and Convention, the global treaty that governs the work of ITU.

NEW INNOVATIONS FOR PP-14

The conference saw a number of new side-events designed to engage members from government, the private sector and civil society in ITU’s work in cross-sectoral issues, including:

  • The first-ever GEM-Tech Awards, organized by ITU in conjunction with UN Women, which recognized seven outstanding organizations and individuals and six ‘Global Achievers’. Watch the video showcasing the seven GEM-TECH winners here. Watch a movie showcase of the 37 shortlisted nominees here, and an overview of PP-14 GEM-TECH activities here
  • The Young ICT Policy Leaders programme, generously supported by the City of Busan, which provided a platform for young policy makers to network and meet global leaders from the ICT sector, and to nurture knowledge and skills exchange at the international level. Busan Metropolitan City sponsored the participation of 35 young delegates from developing countries to ensure true global participation in this new programme. The initiative also resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Busan and ITU aimed at further developing youth training opportunities.
  • An invitation to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to address the 11th Plenary session of the conference on Tuesday 28th October and present an open letter from the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which he co-chairs with Mexico’s Carlos Slim. The President also joined delegates later that day to present awards to leading ICT and gender advocates at the first GEM-TECH Awards Gala Dinner organized by ITU supported by UN Women and partners Oman, Rwanda, Switzerland, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cisco Systems and Facebook.
  • A series of five 'Connect 2020 Roundtables’, held during PP-14 lunch breaks and hosted by ITU’s five top officials, which focused on the key Connect 2020 themes of Growth, Inclusiveness, Sustainability and Innovation, as well as a session on Monitoring, reflecting ITU’s role as a key statistics-gathering agency of the UN family.

ELECTION OF ITU TOP MANAGEMENT

The Plenipotentiary Conference formalized the new team of elected officials of the Union at a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday 30 October. Former Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao was acclaimed as newly elected Secretary-General, along with new Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson, who was formerly Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB). Current incumbents François Rancy (Radiocommunication Bureau) and Brahima Sanou (Telecommunication Development Bureau), along with newly-elected Director of TSB, Korea’s Chaesub Lee, received their letters of appointment. All will officially commence their new terms of office on 1 January 2015.

A full summary of election results for each round of voting is available here.

The conference also elected the twelve members of the Radio Regulations Board (RRB), the body which deals with global radiocommunications matters which fall under the purview of ITU.

A backgrounder on the ITU election process can be found here. A backgrounder explaining how the ITU is governed can be found here.

NEW STATUS FOR PALESTINE

Proposed revisions to two resolutions concerning Palestine were a potential source of discord on the penultimate day of the conference, however assiduous negotiations by delegates from many countries, led by ITU Secretary-General Dr Touré and PP-14 Chairman Wonki Min were successful in reaching compromise texts that achieved consensus. The revised Resolutions, Resolution 99 and Resolution 125, provide for increased participation of the State of Palestine in the work of the Union.

The new rights afforded by amendments to Resolution 99 also allow the State of Palestine to be seated alongside delegations of Member States in French alphabetical order, give the delegation the right to present proposals in its own name, (with the exception of amendments to the ITU Constitution, Convention and General Rules), and allow representatives from the State of Palestine to serve as Chairs or Vice-Chairs of technical study groups and focus groups.

“I am delighted that this potentially divisive issue was able to be resolved in a short space of time through the concerted efforts of ITU Members,” said Secretary-General Dr Touré. “This positive outcome is a shining example of ITU’s culture of global collaboration and bridge-building, which has kept us at the forefront of the industry we serve for 150 years.”

CONFERENCE STATISTICS

This year’s conference:
  • Heard 107 policy statements from ITU Member States.
  • Organized 800 meetings dealing with a total of 452 proposals.
  • Accredited a record 650+ local and international journalists – more than four times as many as at any previous Plenipotentiary Conference.
  • Followed more than 4,000 people posting over 13,000 tweets during the event, reaching over 17 million twitter accounts worldwide. Tweets tagged #Plenipot14 had a potential reach of close to 75 million views.
  • Hosted 100,000 visits to the PP-14 website, with half a million page views.
  • Generated over 2,000 online images, and more than two million views on ITU’s PP-14 Flickr site.
  • Created more than 100 videos and podcasts posted online on the ITU YouTube Channel, Virtual Video Newsroom and SoundCloud, which have been watched more than 5,000 times.
  • Generated over ten terabytes of data passing through the conference network, with over 6,000 unique wireless and wired LAN devices online.
  • Created 120 hours of live broadcast webcasts, representing over 800 hours of audio/video archives (in 6 languages).
  • Required around 1,500 hours of interpretation to accommodate the six working languages of the Union.
  • Generated nearly six thousand pages of translated documents.
  • Was supported by close to 2,400 local staff and almost 240 staff from ITU’s Geneva headquarters.

The 19th Plenipotentiary Conference closed with the signing of the Final Acts.

PP-14 was hosted by Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP).

The Republic of Korea is widely recognized as the world’s most connected country, topping ITU’s ICT Development Index for the past four consecutive years

Full PP-14 Highlights can be read here.

Watch a farewell photo tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré here.

Follow @ITU and the hashtag #Plenipot14 for the latest updates. Go to www.itu.int/pp14/social to access all PP-14 social media channels.

Download conference photos: www.itu.int/pp14/photos

View conference videos: www.itu.int/pp14/videos

Get social: www.itu.int/pp14/social

Watch the archived webcasts: www.itu.int/pp14/webcast

Read backgrounders on conference topics: www.itu.int/en/plenipotentiary/2014/newsroom/Pages/backgrounders.aspx

Read the PP-14 Special Edition of ITU’s bimonthly magazine, ITU News, here.

Find more information on the PP-14 Newsroom

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
tel +82 10 6884 9085 (until 18:00 KST 7 November)
tel +41 22 730 6135
tel sarah.parkes@itu.int 
Paul Conneally
Head, ITU Corporate Communications, ITU
tel +82 10 6884 9119 (until 18:00 KST 7 November)
tel +41 22 730 5601
tel paul.conneally@itu.int  

For Korean-speaking journalists:

Hayoung KIM
Korean Media Liaison, MSIP
tel +82 10 8710 7393

 

Facebook: www.itu.int/facebook
Twitter:
www.itu.int/twitter  hashtag: #Plenipot14

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