Strategies to deliver success
Since the Marrakesh Plenipotentiary Conference in 2002, many developments
have occurred in telecommunications and the broader environment for information
and communication technologies (ICT) that have significant implications for ITU.
How should it respond? This question is addressed in the draft Strategic Plan.
As reform efforts continue in ITU with respect to achieving results-based
budgeting, the Strategic Plan has become an important tool in guiding the
Union’s activities. It is an essential element in a linked planning process that
includes ITU’s Financial Plan and Operational Plans. So it is critical that the
Strategic Plan be developed with these linkages in mind — especially the
requirement for a balanced budget. In Antalya, the Plenipotentiary Conference is
expected to consider and approve the draft Strategic Plan for the period
2008–2011, developed by the ITU Council.
Rising to the challenge
The draft plan highlights the continuing challenge that faces ITU: how to
remain a pre-eminent intergovernmental organization where Member States, Sector
Members and Associates can work together to enable the growth and sustained
development of telecommunications and information networks, and to facilitate
universal access so that people everywhere can participate in, and benefit from,
the emerging information society.
According to the draft plan, there are three factors which ITU must consider
in order to rise to this challenge. One is the need to engage representatives of
new actors in its work (this relates to the potential inclusion of civil society
organizations in ITU activities — a matter to be discussed at Antalya). Another
is the need to raise public awareness of ITU’s mandate, role and activities as
well as achieve “broader access to its resources for the general public and
other actors involved in the emerging information society”. The third factor is
“the need to make optimal use of the scarce financial and human resources
available for the Union’s activities.”
One of ITU’s more important activities in the coming years is its role, as
part of a multi-stakeholder process, in the follow-up and implementation of the
relevant outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). At the
summit’s first phase in Geneva in 2003, world leaders issued a Declaration of
Principles and Plan of Action. The second phase saw them adopt the Tunis
Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The 11
“action lines” in the Geneva Plan of Action set forth key elements for building
the information society. And an annex to the Tunis Agenda provides an
indicative list of possible
moderators/facilitators for each action line.
ITU is named as sole moderator/facilitator for two of the action lines (ICT
infrastructure and cybersecurity). In addition, ITU, alongside the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been tasked to play a leading
facilitating role in implementing the Plan of Action. The draft Strategic Plan
underlines that special attention should be given to the two WSIS action lines
for which ITU has been named sole moderator and facilitator, in addition to
those in which it has been named as partner.
The draft plan lays out seven strategic goals that should allow ITU to
achieve its main mission of enabling and fostering growth and sustained
development of telecommunications and information networks, and facilitating
universal access to them.
||Maintaining and extending
cooperation among all Member States, and with relevant regional
organizations, for the improvement and rational use of information and
communication infrastructure of all kinds, taking the appropriate
leading role in United Nations system initiatives
on ICT, as called for by the relevant outcomes of WSIS
||Assisting in bridging the digital
divides in ICT, by facilitating interoperability, interconnection and
global connectivity of networks and services, and by playing a leading
role in the follow-up and implementation of the goals of WSIS.
||Widening the Union’s membership,
facilitating participation of an increasing number of administrations
and organizations, as well as new actors.
||Developing tools to promote
confidence among users of ICT and safeguard the efficiency, security,
integrity, and interoperability of networks.
||Continuing to improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of ITU’s structures and services and their
relevance to the requirements of the membership and the wider global
||Disseminating information and
expertise to assist the membership (particularly developing countries)
and the wider community to use the opportunities provided by
private-sector participation, competition, network security, and
technological innovation in ICT.
||Promoting an enabling environment
that assists governments in fostering supportive, transparent,
pro-competitive and predictable policies, as well as legal and
regulatory frameworks that provide appropriate incentives for investment
in, and development of, the information society.
Responding to the changing environment
The background to the strategic goals set in the draft plan is the constantly
changing environment. Central to these changes is the convergence of
technological platforms for telecommunications, information delivery,
broadcasting and computing, as well as the deployment of common network
infrastructure for multiple communication services and applications. The
internet and internet protocol (IP)-based platforms and related services also
continue to grow, albeit unevenly across countries. And national and regional
IP-based backbone networks are increasingly being deployed.
Wireless and mobile radiocommunications too are developing rapidly and
converging with both fixed lines and broadcasting services. And in the future,
the digital revolution could enter an entirely new dimension, with the
development of ubiquitous networks and pervasive computing, based on
technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) and sensor networks.
These technologies are emerging as vehicles for creating new services and
applications and are expected to dramatically enhance efficiency. For example,
mundane tasks will become increasingly automated. Not only will this have
important implications for society and individual lifestyles, but also for
business strategy and policy priorities.
Meanwhile, service providers and equipment manufacturers are making huge
investments in developing standards for next-generation networks (NGN).
All of these changes underline the need for rapid development of
market-driven, high-quality, international standards in line with the principles
of global connectivity, openness, affordability, reliability, interoperability
Infrastructure gaps and the digital divide
The growing awareness of the role of ICT as a tool for the overall
development of society and the recognition that robust telecommunication
infrastructure is fundamental to building the information society are noted in
the draft plan, which adds that “the private sector should be encouraged to
uphold its corporate social responsibility.”
There are still significant differences and shortages, within and among
countries, in the deployment of ICT infrastructure and in people’s capacity to
access it (the digital divide). Cost is cited in the draft plan as one of the
causes of this problem.
The draft plan underscores the need to recognize the principles of universal
and non-discriminatory access to ICT for all nations, while taking into account
the level of social and economic development of each country. It stresses that
the development-oriented aspects of the information society must be respected.
Furthermore, ICT must be seen as an effective tool for promoting peace, security
and stability, as well as for enhancing democracy, social cohesion, good
governance and the rule of law at national, regional and international levels.
ICT can also be used to promote economic growth and enterprise development. To
achieve these objectives, infrastructure development, human capacity building,
information security and network security are critical.
The draft plan recognizes the need to effectively confront challenges
resulting from the use of ICT for purposes that threaten international stability
and security, or which could adversely affect the integrity of a country’s
infrastructure to the detriment of its security. It highlights the importance of
preventing the abuse of information resources and technologies for criminal and
terrorist purposes, while at the same time respecting human rights.
The plan notes that there is a trend towards separating operational and
regulatory functions and the creation of independent telecommunication
regulatory bodies (especially in developing countries), as well as a growing
role for regional organizations. This, it says, will help ensure the consistency
and predictability of regulatory frameworks and encourage capital investment.
But at the same time, the trend in a number of Member States to regulate
telecommunications with less reliance on sectoral regulation in competitive
markets is generating different challenges for policy-makers and regulators.
Liberalization and competition
Télécoms Sans Frontières
Also noted in the draft plan is the continuing liberalization of
telecommunication markets. Increased competition arises, too, from the delivery
of audio-visual services and applications over a wide variety of new platforms,
including both fixed and mobile networks.
With particular regard to the WSIS action lines, the plan says that the
effective use of modern telecommunications and ICT should be encouraged during
emergencies as a crucial part of disaster early warning, mitigation, management
and relief strategies.
Carrying out ITU’s overall mission
The general goals of ITU are achieved through the activities of the
Plenipotentiary Conference, the Council, conferences, assemblies, and the three
ITU Sectors, all supported by the General Secretariat. In the pursuit of its
overall mission of connecting the world, the Union’s three Sectors are tasked
with ensuring the efficient use of the radio spectrum, developing open and
non-discriminatory standards, and promoting equitable and sustainable access to
ICT. They are supported in their mission by the work of their respective Bureaux
and the General Secretariat. The various mission statements and objectives are
detailed in the draft Strategic Plan for 2008–2011. Here is a summary of the
Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R)
This Sector’s main mission is to ensure “the rational, equitable, efficient
and economical use of the radiofrequency spectrum by all radiocommunication
services, including those using satellite orbits, and to carry out studies and
approve Recommendations on radiocommunication matters.” ITU–R has five
objectives listed in the draft plan:
Promote, foster, and
ensure cooperation and coordination among all Member States in
decision-making on radiocommunication issues, with participation of Sector
Members and Associates, as appropriate.
Meet the requirements of
the membership for spectrum, orbit access and operations in the light of the
growing convergence of radiocommunication services.
Produce recommendations on
radiocommunication services to achieve connectivity and interoperability in
the application of modern ICT.
Respond to needs of the
membership by disseminating information and know-how on radiocommunication
issues by publishing and distributing relevant materials.
Provide support and
assistance to the membership (mainly to developing countries) on
radiocommunication matters and ICT network infrastructure and applications,
in particular with respect to bridging the digital divide; gaining equitable
access to the radio-frequency spectrum and to satellite orbits, and
providing training and training materials for capacity building.
Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T)
The mission of ITU–T is to provide “a unique worldwide venue for industry and
government to work together to foster the development and use of open,
interoperable, non-discriminatory and demand-driven international standards that
take into account the needs of users, in order to create an environment where
users can access affordable services worldwide regardless of underlying
technology, particularly in developing countries.” The Sector has seven main
Develop and publish the required global standards
in a timely fashion.
Identify relevant areas for future
standardization projects to be initiated within ITU–T, while remaining aware
of the ongoing work in other standards bodies and cooperating with them as
appropriate in order to reduce duplication and avoid inconsistencies and
ensure that the work of ITU–T creates added value.
Provide the most efficient, attractive and
effective forum for the development of international standards consistent
with the needs and interests of the membership.
Promote awareness of the value of ITU–T so as to
attract increased membership.
Respond to the needs of the membership and others
by disseminating information and know-how through the publication and
distribution of relevant materials.
Cooperate and collaborate with other ITU Sectors,
standardization bodies and relevant entities.
Provide support and assistance to the membership
(mainly to developing countries) on standardization matters and ICT network
infrastructure and applications, in particular with respect to bridging the
digital divide, and provide training and training materials for capacity
Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU–D)
ITU–D’s mission is to be “the pre-eminent” promoter and catalyst for
telecommunication/ICT development, acting as the bridge between relevant
partners involved in ICT. The aim is to foster equitable and sustainable access
to innovative and affordable services, especially in developing and least
developed countries. The Sector has seven main objectives in the draft plan:
Organize and strengthen cooperation among ITU–D
Members and between ITU–D and other stakeholders, reflecting the relevant
outcomes of WSIS.
Foster an environment that promotes the
development of telecommunication and ICT networks and services (in
particular in the policy, legal and regulatory domains), taking into account
a rapidly developing ICT environment and technology.
Support the identification of relevant projects
and promote investment in them from telecommunications or ICT ventures, and
nurture public-private partnerships, where appropriate.
Respond to the needs of the ITU–D membership by
disseminating relevant information and know-how, including information
relating to the implementation of WSIS outcomes.
Support the implementation of global, regional
and other relevant initiatives and projects (including those relating to
rural and remote areas, indigenous communities and small island developing
States) that will facilitate the deployment and operation of
telecommunication and ICT networks and services and foster secure,
sustainable and affordable access to them.
Assist developing countries (particularly least
developed countries, countries with economies in transition and small island
developing States), in building human, institutional and organizational
capacity through human resource development and dissemination of information
on ICT development.
Undertake economic, financial and technical
studies on questions related to the development of telecommunications and
ICT, in conformity with the terms of reference of ITU–D study groups and in
close coordination and cooperation with ITU as a whole, and disseminate the
ITU/A. de Ferron
The General Secretariat
The mission of the ITU General Secretariat is to provide accurate, timely and
efficient services to the membership of the Union and to coordinate and support
the activities of its three Sectors. This is mainly achieved through providing
conference services, centralized common services, information services, legal
services, financial planning and cost control and human resource management, as
well as services delivered directly to the membership such as TELECOM
events. The General Secretariat has the following main objectives outlined in
the draft plan:
Provide the membership, the Council and the
Plenipotentiary Conference with information on the ITU budget, programmes
and activities and their financial implications, including the thorough
application of the principles of cost-recovery and the identification of new
sources of funding.
Progressively improve the efficiency of the
Union’s operations by proposing to the Council a sound and balanced budget;
by ensuring financial accountability (including the implementation of a
results-based approach with appropriate feedback mechanisms); by effective
and efficient management of conferences and meetings; by cost-effective
provision of information services, enhanced security, infrastructure and
facilities; by effective management of human resources, and, where
appropriate, by outsourcing.
Facilitate the coordination of activities among
the three Sectors in their external relations and corporate communications
and where work programmes overlap or are related, so as to ensure that the
membership benefits from the full complement of expertise available within
Assist the membership in the areas of strategic
planning and policy development by preparing papers and reports tracking
trends in the global telecommunication environment, including relevant WSIS
Further enhance international cooperation and
develop innovative mechanisms for such cooperation, and act as the
depository of international treaties and agreements.
Improve the exchange of information among the
membership and promote the Union’s activities so as to increase membership;
encourage the use of ITU products and services, and raise the overall
visibility of the Union within the ICT industry and the international
community as whole.
The importance of creating synergy among all these areas of ITU is also
strongly emphasized in the draft Strategic Plan. To achieve its overall
objectives, the whole of ITU has to work together as more than the sum of its