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

ITU/MIC Strategic Dialogue:  Children and Cyberspace: The Need for a Global Approach (Session 5)
Tokyo, Japan
3 June 2009

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour to be here with you today.

And a particular honour to share the floor with Deborah Tate, who just two weeks ago, in Geneva, received the ITU’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day Award for her tireless work in protecting children online.

Deborah Tate is a leading voice on issues affecting families and children – and it is not for nothing that she was so often referred to as the ‘Children’s Commissioner’ during her tenure as Commissioner at the US Federal Communications Commission.

Another person who felt very strongly about children – and who indeed felt they had unlimited potential – was the famous Japanese violinist and teacher, Shinichi Suzuki.

Suzuki once said that: “Children learn to smile from their parents.”

As parents, guardians, policy makers, educators and industry executives, it is most assuredly our duty to keep them smiling.

And I firmly believe that we shall not be able to do so unless we take a global approach to what is clearly a global issue.

Cybercrime, cyber-bullying and cyber-predation do not recognize national boundaries.

So while much good work has already been achieved by groups at a national level, a coordinated, international approach is now essential to giving our children the protection they need.

At ITU, with the COP initiative, we are already working with a number of key organizations, ranging from Interpol and the European Commission to leading industry players, UN agencies, NGOs and respected charities.

And we welcome support and encouragement from all quarters – our door is always open. Indeed, if global initiatives such as COP are to be effective, then we must embrace both the views and the concerns of all stakeholders – so I urge you all to get actively involved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is no silver bullet, and only by working as a team can we succeed – with each member of the team working with the others for the common good.

This is one of the great things about having a number of different stakeholders involved in moving COP forward: we each have a clear role to play, and we all know that to succeed – and we will succeed – we must each work to support the other players.

As the UN organization responsible for ICTs, ITU is happy to work in close collaboration with other UN agencies, and I am pleased to report that inter-agency cooperation has never been better. We are also very happy to assist countries with their own programmes and to support their efforts.

This was brought home to me, personally, during the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations this year.

It was a huge pleasure to see so many countries respond to my invitation to organize national events to highlight this year’s theme of ‘Protecting Children Online’.

Events were organized from Bangladesh to Cameroon, from France to Nigeria, from Peru to Poland, and from Sudan to Turkey – among so many others.

It was tremendous to celebrate WTISD 2009, knowing that we have set forth a strong momentum to make cyberspace a safer place for our children – and making it a place where every child can harness the full potential of ICTs, and where every citizen on this planet can exercise the right to access, use, create and share information.

Children are our future, and we must keep them smiling!

Thank you.