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Background information

ITU Elections

As ITU sets the course for the future, furnished with an expanded mandate aimed at building an Information Society and realizing the full potential of ICT for all, the Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya (PP-06) will be electing the leadership at the helm of the Union.

Following current practice, and unlike other UN agencies, the conference elects five officials: the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General as well as the Directors of the three bureaux: the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR), the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), and the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). In a major departure from previous practice, candidacies to the posts were closed a month ahead of the elections, on 9 October, bringing a new paradigm to the voting process by preventing last-minute trade-offs. While this new procedure brings greater transparency to the campaigns, it also impacts the way alliances are made and support garnered.

Until 1989, the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General were elected by the Plenipotentiary and the Directors of what is now the Radiocommunication Bureau and the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau were elected by the Plenary Assemblies of their respective sectors. The Telecommunication Development Bureau was created by a decision of the 1989 Plenipotentiary Conference and the first Director was therefore elected at the following Plenipotentiary Conference held in 1992. At PP-06, some proposals recommend restoring the pre-1989 practice of electing the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General by the Plenipotentiary, while the three Directors would be elected by the Radiocommunication Assembly for the Director of BR, the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly for the Director of TSB and the World Telecommunication Development Conference for the Director of BDT. Others have suggested doing away with the federal structure of elected Directors and to elect only the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.

The election process will begin on Thursday, 9 November, with the election of the Secretary-General.

Candidates to posts of elected officials

Outgoing Secretary-General Mr Yoshio Utsumi, who has served two full terms since he was elected in 1998, will be leaving behind a strong legacy — and a stiff challenge to the new incumbent. The future Secretary-General will be decided from among five candidates:

  • Mr Roberto Blois (Brazil) from Region A — Americas

  • Mr Marc Furrer (Switzerland) and Mr Matthias Kurth (Germany) from Region B — Western Europe

  • Mr Montasser Ouaili (Tunisia) and Mr Hamadoun Touré (Mali) from Region D — Africa;

  • Ms Muna Nijem (Jordan) from Region E — Asia and Australasia.

Meet the candidates at for their biographies and interviews in which they outline their agendas.

  • The Secretary-General coordinates the Union's activities and is responsible for the overall management of the Union's resources. The Secretary-General is assisted by the Deputy Secretary-General to whom some of the functions assigned to the Secretary-General are delegated.

  • The Director of BR is responsible for the coordination of the work of the Sector. On the basis of the experience gained in the day-to-day application of the Radio Regulations, he prepares, for consideration by the Member States and further approval by the Radio Regulations Board, new Rules of Procedure to cater for situations where problems could not be solved by the application of existing rules and submits cases of unfavourable findings challenged by a country to the Board for review. He also acts as Executive Secretary to the Radio Regulations Board.

  • The Director of TSB is responsible for regularly updating the work programme of the Sector approved by world telecommunication standardization assemblies, in consultation with the chairmen of the ITU-T study groups and the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group. He/she coordinates the work of the sector, organizes and coordinates the approval process of ITU-T standards and disseminates data from members needed to ensure efficient day-to-day operation of telecommunication services. It is also his/her responsibility to act as registrar for value-added services such as universal international freephone numbers (UIFN), universal international premium rate numbers (UIPRN) and international shared cost numbers (ISCN).

  • The BDT Director works in partnership with the Union’s other Sectors to strengthen its catalytic role in telecommunication development and offers advice on national and regional telecommunication problems, taking into account economic factors when a comparison of technical alternatives is involved. He/she coordinates the work of the sector and publishes information which can help developing countries to improve their telecommunication networks.

Candidates for the post of Deputy Secretary-General are:

Mr T.A. Beydogan (Turkey) and Mr C. Sánchez (Spain) – Region B (Western Europe)
Mr J.R. Kwabena Tandoh (Ghana) – Region D (Africa) and
Mr H. Zhao (China) - Region E (Asia-Australasia).

Candidates for Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, are:

Mr F. Bigi (Italy) and Mr M. Johnson (United Kingdom) – Region B (Western Europe)
Mr Y. Inoue (Japan) and Mr K. Park (Korea, Republic of) – Region E (Asia-Australasia).

Candidates for Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, are:

Mr A.K. Boussaid (Algeria), Mr P.F. Masambu (Uganda) and Ms N. Rochdi (Morocco) – Region D (Africa)
Mr S. Al Basheer (Saudi Arabia) – Region E (Asia-Australasia).

Mr V. Timofeev (Russian Federation, Region C – Eastern Europe and Northern Asia) is the sole candidate for the post of Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau.

Other elections

The Conference will also elect the Member States of the Council and the members of the Radio Regulations Board.

The ITU Council, which currently comprises of 46 Member States, acts on behalf of the Plenipotentiary to consider broad telecommunication policy issues to ensure that the Union’s activities, policies and strategies fully respond to today’s dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunication environment. It also prepares the ITU strategic plan.

In addition, the Council is responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the Union, coordinating work programmes, approving budgets and controlling finances and expenditure.

Finally, the Council takes all steps to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the ITU Constitution, the ITU Convention, the Administrative Regulations (International Telecommunication Regulations and Radio Regulations), decisions of plenipotentiary conferences and those of other conferences and meetings of the Union.

The Radio Regulations Board (RRB) is a part-time body comprising 12 members representing the world’s five regions (Americas, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, Africa, and Asia/Australasia).

It is the Board’s job to approve the rules of procedures in application of the Radio Regulations, including those related to the assignment and utilization of frequencies and the use of the satellite orbits. It also provides advice to radiocommunication conferences and radiocommunication assemblies.

The right to vote

ITU’s 191 Member States have to have their credentials that confer full powers to represent their government, by the Head of State/Government or the Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to be authorized to sign the Final Acts or vote. They must also meet the criteria of having deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval or an instrument of accession of the ITU Constitution and Convention as well as not having any arrears in their payment of contributions of more than two years. As of 6 November 2006, 21 Member States were not entitled to vote.

The Credentials Committee is assigned to review the credentials for the approval of the Plenary meeting.

In the past, elections have customarily been held in the second week of the Conference — which ran for a period of four weeks. Now that the duration of the 2006 Plenipotentiary Conference has been reduced to three weeks, pressure has mounted to begin the election process in the first week. This has entailed an earlier review of credentials. Because this could have become an issue for those countries whose Instruments were not in order and who may not have had adequate time to redress the situation before the Credentials Report would have submitted to the Plenary in time for the elections, the Conference decided to authore all countries, which otherwise meet the other criteria, to vote without consideration of whether their credentials are in order. This decision was based on a provision of the Convention which states that pending the decision of the Plenary Meeting on the report of the Credentials Committee, any delegation is entitled to participate in the conference and to exercise the right to vote of the Member State concerned.

The process

Elections to the ITU posts are held by secret ballot. Elections are carried out in three stages: first, the election of the Secretary-General followed by the election of the Deputy Secretary-General and then the election of the Directors of the three Bureaux.

If no candidate obtains the necessary majority in the first ballot, then one or (if required) two further ballots will be held after successive intervals of at least six hours from the announcement of the results, unless otherwise decided by the Conference.

If, after the third ballot, no candidate has obtained the necessary majority of votes, then following an interval of at least twelve hours a fourth ballot would be held for the two candidates who secured the largest number of votes at the third ballot. Again the time between the two ballots can be modified by the Conference.

However, if the fourth ballot results in a tie between the two candidates, the eldest of the candidates still in contention will be declared elected.

Date of taking of office

The Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and the Directors of the Bureaux take up their duties on the dates determined by the Plenipotentiary Conference at the time of their election and remain in office until dates determined by the following Plenipotentiary Conference. Under the current rules, they are eligible for re-election only once in any given post. A proposal has now been tabled to limit the terms of elected officials to a maximum of two in any office, which means no individual is eligible for -reelection more than once (i.e. two terms) irrespective of the post.



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Updated : 2007-01-09