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 Closing Statement by ITU Secretary-General, Mr. Yoshio Utsumi


Yoshio Utsumi
Secretary-General of the ITU
Secretary-General of WSIS

Closing Remarks


Tunis, 18 November 2005


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour to address you once again as we close the World Summit on the Information Society.

It has been a long road and seven years since that chilly late night session in Minneapolis when the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference adopted the resolution that gave birth to WSIS. It is fitting that this stage of our journey ends here in Tunis, the capital of the country that launched this process.

An enormous amount of effort has brought us to this point.

Six preparatory committee meetings, eleven regional and sub-regional conferences, 29 WSIS Thematic Meetings and many other conferences related to WSIS have been held.

Some 29 different countries have hosted Summit-related events and hundreds of thousands of delegates have participated.

Has the effort been worth it?

At the outset, many were sceptical about WSIS. There are those who view UN Summits as vestiges of the last century.

But I am firmly convinced that WSIS has been worth every step. Working together we have created a Summit with a difference: a Summit of Solutions.

WSIS has been built, from the start, on a multi-stakeholder approach. The private sector, civil society and international organizations, have been given the opportunity to express their views, alongside governments, at virtually every stage of the process.

This is a big leap forward for UN Summits. While I know that the civil society and private sector observers would like an even bigger part, I believe we can all agree that WSIS has set a new model for inclusiveness and one that is particularly relevant in the age of the Internet.

WSIS has also been a Summit that cuts across many issues in an attempt to find the best means to adapt our society to the opportunity offered by new forms and technologies of communication.

In a very real sense, WSIS is about making the best use of a new opportunity and a new tool. The Information Society can be a win-win situation for all, provided that we take the right actions. WSIS reinforces the value of global dialogue and cooperation to address emerging issues in the 21st century.

WSIS was also organized in an entirely new manner, with a separate Executive Secretariat composed of experts detached from the different stakeholder groups. In that way, not only governments, but civil society and the private sector participated directly in the preparation of the Summit.

It was largely self-financed. No money was provided by the UN General Assembly and the ITU governing bodies made only a modest financial contribution. Most of the cost, particularly of the PrepComs, was supported by voluntary contributions. I am grateful to the many governments and organizations that made donations to the WSIS Fund and to those who made in-kind contributions to support the preparations of the Geneva and Tunis phases. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them.

For governments, I extend my special appreciation to: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Canada, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Holy See, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, the Sultanate of Oman, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.


International organisations have also been active in supporting the preparations. I would particularly like to thank ITU, ArabSat, the European Commission, ILO, ISESCO, WMO, UNESCO, UNFCU, UNITAR, UNDP, the United Nations, and especially the UN in Geneva, as well as the UPU, for their contributions.

In addition, I would like to thank civil society and private sector organizations for their financial and in-kind support, including: IINAS, OTEF, Intel, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, RealNetworks, Net Display Systems, Togo Telecom and Vivendi Universal.

Uniquely, WSIS was a Summit held in two phases. Through this approach, WSIS took place both in one developed and one developing country. This helped to ensure that the full range of issues of the Information Society were addressed, while highlighting the critical need to bridge the Digital Divide. The two-phase process has enabled us to develop a concrete plan for implementation, at the national, regional and international levels. This will ensure that the commitments that we undertake are fulfilled.

So what have we accomplished?

At the beginning of this process, no one knew what the key issues of the Summit were. Much of the early days were spent on shaping and refining the agenda.

In Geneva, world leaders crystallized this process in the Declaration, which sets out eleven key principles and action lines. In the Plan of Action, we set out critical targets to connect the World by 2015 and set in motion a process to deal with unresolved issues. These were:

  • Implementation and follow-up;
  • Financing Mechanisms; and
  • Internet Governance.
  • I am pleased to note that implementation is already in full swing.

    More than 2’500 project have already been entered in the stocktaking database, and many more have been launched during the Tunis Phase. Many countries have informed us of their national e-readiness strategies.

    I am pleased today that we now have the Tunis Commitment and Tunis Agenda for the Information Society to guide us in our future work.

    As a result of the Summit, world leaders are now fully aware of the importance of ICTs to national development, of the critical role that these new tools can play in modernizing their society and they have realized that ICTs are not only about technology, but also about people and their potential.

    Mr. Chairman, a successful Summit is built on the efforts of thousands of people, and I want to close by thanking them.

    I should begin with a word of thanks to you Mr. President and through you to the people of Tunisia who have worked so hard to make the arrangements and to all the members of your team who over the past two years have strived for the success of this Summit. I wish to thank specially Minister Ouali, Mr. Habib Ammar, Chairman of the Tunisia Organising Committee of the Summit, its Secretary-General Mr. Mohamed Hadj-Taieb, and their teams.

    I also wish to express my appreciation once again to the government of Switzerland for hosting the Geneva phase of the Summit and to all the members of the Swiss team.

    I also thank the ITU membership, the ITU Council and the Council Working Group on WSIS for their support in this process and their invaluable guidance along the way.

    I wish to offer special thanks to the President of the PrepCom process, Ambassador Janis Karklins as well as to Chairmen of Sub-Committees, Working Groups and others.

    I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Geneva missions and their active participation in the Bureau of the Preparatory process.

    Finally, I express my appreciation to the staff of ITU and Executive secretariat of WSIS. I cannot name them all, but organizing two phases of a Summit in two years is an unprecedented achievement in the UN system. This required many long nights and personal sacrifices and I have been blessed with an ITU secretariat that has weathered every challenge.

    In closing Mr. President, let us remember that the road does not end here in Tunis.

    Even as we close the Summit, we face the critical challenge to continue by our actions and leadership to advance towards achieving the goals and objectives we committed to in Geneva and in Tunis.

    Let us now make an inclusive information society a reality.

    Thank you all.





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