Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

Internet Governance Forum - Opening Session
Hyberabad, India
3 December 2008

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you here in Hyderabad for what I trust will be three days of productive discussions aimed at defining a clear path forward for the IGF.

It is worth reiterating that the IGF was created as the result of the most wide-ranging, comprehensive and inclusive debate ever held on the future of the Internet.

Through the Geneva and Tunis Phases of the World Summit on the Information Society, ITU proactively solicited contributions from stakeholders worldwide.

Intensive preparatory work for the Tunis phase of WSIS had already built significant global consensus on the principles governing ongoing policy deliberations.

At the close of that summit, we spoke of a breakthrough agreement on Internet governance which acknowledged the need for enhanced global cooperation. The need for equality of governments worldwide. And the need for the application of principles of national sovereignty in each country’s management of its ccTLD, as laid down in paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society.

We underlined the importance of strengthened cooperation in the development of globally applicable principles for the management of critical Internet resources.

We hailed the agreement, and the creation of the IGF in accordance with paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda, as a turning point that would pave the way for all countries to exercise their national rights in managing their own critical Internet resources.

Three years later, where are we?

I am pleased with some of the progress achieved by ICANN over these past three years on critical issues such as security and internationalization of the Domain Name System.

For our part, ITU has been very active in implementing both the letter and the spirit of our WSIS commitments.

On 17 May last year I launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, a global framework for international cooperation aimed at enhancing public confidence and security in the use of ICTs.

Because children are increasingly vulnerable to the predations of cybercriminals, we recently enhanced the GCA with the launch of our new Child Online Protection initiative.

ITU’s 2008 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly adopted key Recommendations on IPv6 and on non-discriminatory access to Internet resources.

ITU Council last month created a new working group dedicated to accelerating the pace of work on Internet-related public policy issues.

ITU also continues to push for faster progress in building international Internet connectivity in developing countries. Last year’s ITU Connect Africa summit alone raised an unprecedented 55 billion dollars in investment commitments specifically targeting regional connectivity projects.

And in April next year, ITU’s fourth World Telecommunication Policy Forum in Lisbon will welcome over a thousand senior policy makers for high-level discussions on four key themes, among them Internet-related public policy matters.

Distinguished colleagues,

When we met in Rio last year, I spoke of the need for next-generation Internet governance. Governance that reflects the changing geopolitical realities of our world, and the changing nature of the Internet itself.

I make no apology for stating bluntly that I believe the IGF is not on track to meet the expectations of many countries that participated in the Tunis phase of WSIS, and who were hoping for frank and fruitful discussions on globally applicable principles for the management of critical Internet resources.

If we allow ourselves to get bogged down in re-hashing issues for which there was already broad global consensus in Tunis, then critics are justified in labelling our efforts a waste of time.

Last month, I was privileged to participate in the ICANN meeting in Cairo – a meeting that elicited forthright discussions on our strengths and weaknesses. One of the clear weaknesses in the current structure is the Governmental Advisory Group, or GAC.

Not only does this body lack any kind of policy-making muscle, but it is highly unrepresentative. Of ITU’s 191 Member States, barely half have representation in GAC, and under a third play an active role.

I continue to receive complaints on issues of great importance to ITU Member States, such as the management of the ccTLD for Trinidad and Tobago, which has still not been resolved.

When issues of such concern to sovereign states cannot be addressed in a timely and satisfactory manner, it is only natural that these countries turn to ITU for help.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the last meeting of the IGF, the world has been plunged into an economic crisis the magnitude of which is only just beginning to be fully appreciated.

At a top-level crisis meeting in New York, heads of international agencies were unanimous in their call for global frameworks that embrace a new multilateral approach.

These leaders were unequivocal in their call for a new environment that supports, rather than undermines, social fairness and sustainable development.

This compelling need for new, more equitable international frameworks is just as important when applied to cyberspace. The same principles of democracy advocated by some of the loudest voices on the Net must also apply to the governance of this critical global resource.

I therefore urge IGF members to strengthen their will to move forward in addressing the issues for which this forum was set up, in the spirit of Paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda.

As the international agency Committed to Connecting the World, ITU has a mandate to extend equitable access to all the world’s people.

This is a responsibility we take very seriously.

I, for one, would be encouraged to see a clear demonstration of the same commitment from the IGF.

Thank you.