Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 64th session of ITU Council.
It has been another very busy
and productive year for ITU, culminating just two weeks ago with the highly
successful ITU Telecom World 2009 event here in Geneva.
We have continued making good
progress on the seven goals of ITU’s 2008-2011 Strategic Plan.
And we have succeeded in
bringing ITU’s key messages to the top of the international agenda.
Demonstrating that information and communication technologies, ICTs, are vital
and beneficial in addressing each and every one of the global issues faced today.
From the financial crisis, to climate change, to cybersecurity.
Our organization is strong
financially and is working well. Our staff are focused on the job, and there is
less duplication of effort and spending.
Our working methods continue
to improve, and we are eliminating paper wherever we can. A good example is our
new internal registry project, which means we will no longer have to circulate
paper copies of correspondence.
We are also increasingly using
virtual conferencing tools wherever possible. The child online protection
guidelines, for example, which we published earlier this month, were debated and
reviewed entirely using virtual tools.
This morning, I would like to
give you a brief resumé of the main events of the past year, followed by a
preview of the year ahead.
Brief resumé of past year:
Last November, as many of you
will remember, we opened Council with a High-Level Segment, and it was a
privilege to have with us two Heads of State, Mr Paul Kagame, President of
Rwanda, and Mr Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso – as well as a video
message from United Nations Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon.
The high-level segment
addressed the two key issues of cybersecurity and climate change, and was
attended by some 400 participants, including 21 Ministers, Ambassadors and heads
of regulatory organizations and UN agencies.
Early in 2009, as in 2008, I
called top ITU management to a brief retreat to fine-tune our plans and goals
for the year ahead. And once again the management retreat proved a powerful and
useful team-building exercise.
This was particularly
important in the run up to the fourth World Telecommunication Policy Forum,
which took place in Portugal in April. The WTPF adopted the Lisbon Consensus,
which addressed telecommunications policy and regulatory issues associated with
technological change and convergence in the rapidly evolving world of ICTs.
The Lisbon Consensus
acknowledged the far-reaching importance of ICTs in extending the benefits of
the Information Society for all, and participants expressed consensus on a
number of opinions:
- Internet-related public policy
- The advent of next-generation
networks (NGN) and advanced broadband access, which will enable unfettered high-speed
access aimed at consistent and ubiquitous services;
- ICTs and the environment to
address global climate change;
- Collaborative strategies to
create confidence and security in the use of ICTs;
- Capacity building to support
the adoption of IPv6, an Internet protocol used for communicating data across a
- International telecommunication regulations (ITRs), which facilitate global interconnection
and interoperability for telecommunications worldwide.
Just a few weeks after the
WTPF we held the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum in Geneva,
which was co-hosted by UNCTAD, UNDP and UNESCO.
The Forum successfully built
on the tradition of annual follow-up meetings for the implementation of WSIS
outcomes, with six high-level panels addressing issues critical to the multi-stakeholder
WSIS implementation and follow-up process:
- ICTs for Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs);
- Accessing Knowledge;
- Financial mechanisms in the
- Climate change and ICTs;
- ICT applications for a better
The WSIS Forum provided
opportunities to network and participate in multi-stakeholder discussions and
consultations on WSIS implementation – including meetings for facilitators,
thematic workshops and speed exchanges on critical issues.
As usual, the WSIS Forum was
timed to coincide with the celebrations for World Telecommunication and
Information Society Day, WTISD.
This year, the WTISD theme was
‘Protecting Children in Cyberspace’, and we were honoured to have Queen Silvia
of Sweden as our patron for the event.
ITU’s Child Online Protection
(COP) initiative is now an integral part of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. It
is in line with our mandate to strengthen cybersecurity and has been established
as an international collaborative network for action to promote the online
protection of children and young people worldwide.
The 2009 WTISD awards were
given to three laureates for their exceptional work in protecting children
online: President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva of Brazil; Mr Rob Conway, CEO of
GSMA; and Ms Deborah Taylor Tate, former Commissioner of the US Federal
The other major event of
course – which I mentioned a few minutes ago – was ITU Telecom World 2009, which
was held here in Geneva earlier this month.
- Heads of State and Heads of
Governments; more than 80 Ministers; and over 400 C-level executives;
- Special VIP and VVIP sessions
with CEOs, and a ‘Council of Ministers’;
- A more varied Exhibition than
we’ve ever had before, with many national pavilions, thematic pavilions, and
community initiatives on the show floor;
- A really innovative Forum
programme, where many of the key issues of the day – including the financial
crisis, climate change, and cybersecurity – were discussed in depth;
- And the Youth Forum, which
brought together some 300 young people from 150 countries around the world to
share with us their wisdom – as digital natives – and to engage with industry
and government leaders;
None of this would have been
possible without the ITU Member States, and we would like to express our
gratitude to them for their continuing support.
The Telecom World event also
saw the unveiling of the new plaque outside this very room which you will have
noticed on the way in. The plaque is dedicated to Professor Alexander Popov, who
helped usher in the era of radiocommunications, and who has now given his name
to what was formerly Room B.
The Russian administration has
generously agreed to refurbish the Popov room, and receives our grateful thanks:
thank you, Russia.
look forward over the coming years to seeing other ITU rooms refurbished and
renamed in honour of pioneers and giants in the field of telecommunications.
The past twelve months have
also been very successful for all three ITU sectors, and we have been as busy if
not busier than ever in implementing the wishes of our members in ITU-R, ITU-T
ITU-R – as well as its regular
ongoing work – has further strengthened its preparatory activities for the 2012
World Radiocommunication Conference.
This has been done within the
framework of the ITU-R Study Groups, as well as through last month’s WRC
Preparatory Meeting – which was held in collaboration with the African
Telecommunication Union, and which was attended by more than 200 participants
and six regional telecommunication organizations: APT, ASMG, ATU, CEPT, CITEL,
ITU-T has focused this year on
the follow-up to the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2008. A
recent meeting gathered Chief Technical Officers from around the world who
underlined ITU’s pre-eminent role in standardization.
In terms of its core work in
standards, some high profile TSB achievements include the methodology to give
ICT companies a consistent way to report their carbon footprints; home
networking standards under the banner g.hn; and key standards in identity
management, IPTV and optical networks.
ITU-D, for its part, in
addition to implementing its extensive regular programmes and providing direct
country assistance, undertook a number of initiatives this year to connect the
Most recently, BDT launched
the ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ initiative with the UN Secretary-General
during ITU Telecom World 2009. BDT has also begun practical cybersecurity
training activities for Members as part of the IMPACT partnership.
And as in previous years, with
the support of partners, BDT was able to provide Emergency Telecommunication
assistance during disasters.
New connectivity initiatives
were also launched with industry partners, including rural projects coming out
of the Pacific Ministerial Forum in February and wireless broadband projects in
Africa resulting from the Connect Africa event.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It has also been a very
successful year in terms of raising ITU’s profile on the international stage,
with enhanced media coverage of the Union and its work. This has particularly
been the case in the key areas of climate change, cybersecurity, and the
financial crisis – areas where ICTs are now clearly recognized as being part of
the solution not part of the problem.
I have also welcomed many high-level
visitors to ITU, and met many more while travelling on official business.
Since Council 2008, we have
been honoured at ITU by visits from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as
- Six heads of state (Brazil,
Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Senegal & Zimbabwe);
- A number of heads of
- Over one hundred ministers and
- More than 50 ambassadors;
- And many other important
representatives of associations, commissions, agencies and unions, as well as
prominent business leaders.
While on mission, since
Council last year, I have also met with Ban Ki-moon, as well as 13 heads of
state, two first ladies, the Queen of Sweden and even the Pope.
I also met many other high-ranked
officials from governments and international agencies, and the top executives of
many private sector companies.
The past year has also seen us
play a more dynamic role as a United Nations organization, with ITU taking part
in many high-level UN meetings and playing an active and important role in the
lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December. We have also
seen much stronger participation in ITU activities by the heads of other UN
agencies during the year.
I am therefore pleased to be
able to officially announce the opening of our New York UN liaison office, which
will allow us to remain tightly-integrated within the UN system.
The head of the liaison
office, Gary Fowlie, is with us here this week, and is looking forward to
meeting councillors and to hearing their ideas and expectations as we move
Preview of the year ahead:
Ladies and gentlemen,
The year ahead promises to be
an exciting one for all of us.
In terms of events, we have
two very important ones coming up just next month.
The 9th Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) and Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF) will take place from
9-12 November in Beirut, Lebanon.
And the Connect CIS
[Commonwealth of Independent States] event will take place from 26-27 November,
in Minsk, Belarus.
The GSR is a unique venue for
regulators and policy makers from both developed and developing countries to
meet and exchange views and experiences.
Last year we broadened the
scope of this very successful event to create the GILF, with a view to more
actively soliciting the involvement of the private sector.
The GILF is designed to
promote frank and open dialogue between regulators and key ICT stakeholders from
industry, while the GSR is focused on discussions between regulators themselves
about new trends and new developments in regulatory best practice.
With the theme ‘Hands On or
Hands Off?’, the 2009 edition of the GSR will address the challenges of
convergence and the changing role of the regulator.
Just a few days after the GSR
we will be in Belarus to launch the next ‘ITU Connect’ event.
In the wake of the
unprecedented success of the first ‘ITU Connect Africa’ event in Rwanda in 2007,
the next event targets the CIS region. This as an excellent opportunity to
highlight the huge market potential of the CIS, as well as its growing
importance as a major ICT development hub, particularly in the area of software
I’m confident that this next
ITU Connect event will prove another great success in helping forge the
partnerships between industry and government that could help make the CIS a new
We then have a very busy time
next May, with the WSIS Forum in Geneva and the WTISD in Shanghai (to coincide
with Expo 2010).
This will be followed by the
World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in Hyderabad.
These development events are
of exceptional importance next year, as 2010 marks the halfway point between
WSIS in 2005 and the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
For us, 2015 also reminds us
of the 150th anniversary of the Union – by which time I hope to ensure that the
whole world is connected.
The extensive preparations
which have already taken place ahead of the WTDC, and in particular the ongoing
series of regional preparatory meetings, will ensure that the WTDC is able to
adopt programmes and define a work plan for the development sector which will
ensure that the MDGs are met.
I am also pleased to report
that we are in the process of concluding negotiations with a Member State which
will allow us to create an ICT Exploratorium here in Geneva, which will showcase
the past, present and future of ICTs. I hope that you will join me in 2010 for
the opening of this exciting new museum.
Next year, 2010, is also of
course the year of the ITU’s next Plenipotentiary Conference, in Mexico.
Conference is vital to the Union, but I cannot help thinking that PP10 will be
the most important one to date.
Developments in ICTs are
happening at an ever-increasing rate.
So we must meet the challenge
at PP10 of adapting ourselves to the new ICT landscape. We must also make sure
that we help to drive and influence change, as well as responding to it.
For my part, I believe that we
need to have a good look at the constitution and convention, and to streamline
this as much as possible.
Of course we must retain the
indisputable principles – without these we are nothing – but there is room to
avoid unnecessary debate and to make them leaner and fitter for the modern
world. We must make it easier for members to tell us what they want clearly.
We must also review the
funding of the Union. It needs to be more predictable – both for members and for
This means that the value of
the contributory units should not be subject to debates.
This is why we are suggesting
to fix the amount of the contributory unit at its existing value of 318,000
Swiss Francs for the 2010-2011 budget period.
We are not of course
suggesting that the number of contributory units given by Members should be
fixed. This is always up to Members to decide.
But I do believe – to create a
more stable and predictable environment – that for changes in the number of
contributory units, there should be a notice period of at least a year before
the Plenipotentiary Conference, and that they should not be able to be reduced
within any given biennium.
But of course Members are more
than welcome to increase the number of their contributory units at any time…
While we are discussing fiscal
matters, I would also like to address the budget.
We have been working on zero
nominal growth for over ten years now, and have not even taken inflation into
account. While we have done a good job, our successors will find the next budget
cycles very difficult if we do not at least match inflation.
Several Member States have
advised us that, even in a zero nominal growth environment, they still have the
ability to adjust their contribution for inflation.
Distinguished Councillors: Four more points concerning PP10:
- Firstly, I am pleased with the
way the federal structure of ITU has been working over the past three years, and
I would like to thank my elected colleagues, Mr. Timofeev, Mr. Al-Basheer and
Mr. Johnson for their very close and frank collaboration – and especially Mr
Zhao, Deputy Secretary-General, who has been very dynamic and effective in
acting as Executive Director of Telecom.
I do believe, however, that we
should change the titles of the directors to reflect their elected status and
match their real position within the UN system.
My suggestion – and I would
welcome your feedback – is that they should be designated Assistant Secretary-Generals,
rather than Directors. This principle already exists within other organizations,
and I believe would help clarify the importance of the Bureaux elected officials.
- Secondly, PP10 will deliver a
new strategic and financial plan for the Union, and one of the most important
tasks we have to achieve during this Session of Council is to create the working
group that will draft this plan.
- Thirdly, I hope that we will
be able to propose to PP10 the introduction of electronic voting, if Members
agree – and we are currently investigating other UN agencies’ approaches, and
how these might fit in with our Members’ needs.
- And finally, concerning the
elections at PP10, I am pleased to be able to inform you that the website for
these is now live, and you can see information about the candidatures received
so far for the elected officials, Council seats and the Radio Regulations Board
, in response to my circular letter dated 3 September 2009.
I take this opportunity now to
invite you to submit your candidatures as soon as possible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to take a brief
moment to say how proud I am to be leading such a strong organization and such
dedicated staff – in all three sectors and in the general secretariat. The staff
are the lifeblood of the Union, and without them, and their commitment and
enthusiasm, we would simply not exist.
It is true, perhaps that the
relationship with the Staff Council has not been as positive as I would have
liked over the past few months.
But I am confident that better
times lie ahead, and that by joint cooperation we will succeed in rebuilding any
bridges that may have fallen into disrepair.
Concerning the tools we use to
report to our members, I am happy to say that there has been excellent progress
– notably with the dashboard which means that anything I can see as Secretary-General
can also be seen by Council Members.
The Internal audit function is
now fully operational, and has been enhanced to provide maximum transparency and
You may also be aware that the
UN system is implementing a new accounting standard, known as IPSAS, which
stands for International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
Implementing IPSAS is a major
undertaking for any organization – but it will make our financial statements
more transparent and easier to understand, and it will facilitate a move to full
results-based budgeting and results-based management.
ITU is committed to meeting
the original deadline for implementation of IPSAS by the first of January next
year – and if we are successful, we will be among the first agencies to actually
make the deadline.
Indeed, other agencies are now
moving the implementation date back to 2012 – but I can assure you that ITU is
on track to make the 2010 deadline on time. And under budget.
My last words before handing
over the floor concern a subject that concerns each and every one of us; our
children; and our children’s children.
I am referring of course to
This is the biggest issue of
our time, and we must do everything in our power to address it.
Copenhagen Conference and I
will be going to Copenhagen in December.
I also took part in the WMO
Climate Summit in Geneva and the UN Climate Summit in New York in September.
All three ITU sectors have
actively been addressing climate change this year through various projects and
meetings, and World Telecom included the topic as one of the major thematic
And I am proud of ITU’s work
in promoting the idea that ICTs should be included in the Copenhagen Agreement
as part of the solution.
Nonetheless, between us – with
191 Member States and over 700 Sector Members and Associates – we must be able
to do more.
So in the run-up to Copenhagen
in December – and indeed the run-up to PP10 – I would appreciate hearing from
any and all of you with ideas and practical suggestions as to what we can do.
You, our members and staff,
are the ITU’s most precious asset, and we appreciate you more than you may
I look forward to working with
all of you in the coming year to achieve our goals, and let us make every effort
during this Council Session to put in place the decisions and actions that will
make this possible.