World Telecommunication Day 2005 marks two important anniversaries for ITU.
It will be 140 years since we began helping the world communicate. From the
birth of the telegraph, through radio and television broadcasting to satellite
communications and the Internet, the work of ITU has helped harness the power of
science and technology to fulfill a basic human need for communication. However,
20 years ago, we realized that not all people were sharing in the social and
economic benefits that telecommunications creates. In 1985 ITU released the
landmark Maitland Report, known as the ‘Missing Link’, which was the first to
clearly identify the digital divide. Since its publication, ITU has been working
in earnest to bring the benefits of ICT to all of humanity.
In 2003, ITU held the first ever World Summit on the Information Society in
Geneva. The first phase of the Summit resulted in 175 countries endorsing a
Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action that embrace the idea of universal and affordable access to ICTs. The second phase of the Summit, to be
held this November in Tunis, will measure the progress we have made in
fulfilling the specific objectives of the Geneva phase and will call on all
stakeholders to transform the political will expressed at the first phase into
long-term commitments. To help focus the world’s attention on the importance of
this mission, ITU members have selected the theme Creating an Equitable
Information Society: Time for Action.
Looking ahead to Tunis, the true test of an engaged, empowered and equitable
Information Society will be the extent to which today's powerful knowledge-based
communications tools are able to connect different peoples across geographic,
knowledge and information divides, especially in the most impoverished
countries. The time for action is now.