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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Americas Region Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12)

Buenos Aires, Argentina, 15 May 2012


Buenos días, es un gran placer estar aquí y darles la bienvenida a esta reunión preparatoria. Good morning and welcome to this Americas Regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12).

On behalf of the ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, I would like to thank Ceferino Namuncurá, Interventor, Comisión Nacional de comunicaciones and Hector Carril from Secretaría de comunicaciones for hosting this event, and Clovis Baptista, Secretary-General CITEL for his collaboration and the support of CITEL.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Vice Chairman of the Council working group for this region Kathryn O'Brien for her excellent contribution.

This event is intended to facilitate the region’s contribution and participation in the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) which will be held in Dubai, 3-14 December this year.

Although WCIT is not an ITU-T Sector conference the Secretary-General has decided that I should coordinate the ITU Secretariat’s preparations for WCIT, since it is likely to impact ITU-T more than the other two sectors.

I am pleased to be joined by our ITR expert Richard Hill, TSB, Secretary to the Council Working Group. I am pleased that we also have Hector Huerta-Reyna ITU Regional Director here as well as Paolo Rosa and Leslie Jones, TSB and Nelson Malaguti, BR to help with logistics.

ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) shows a remarkable rate of change in the Americas. Broadband penetration, for example, doubled between 2005 and 2011 across the region.

However as well as having some very connected countries the Americas region has some of the world’s least connected peoples. Nicaragua is the least connected state.

Uruguay is notable for its remarkable rate of development showing levels of progress well above the global average.

Seeking to address the ICT gaps in the region, the Connect Americas Summit will take place in Panama City, Panama, from 17 to 19 July 2012. I encourage you all to attend this important event.

Connecting the world and all of its inhabitants is ITU’s key objective. Many Resolutions drawn up at our major conferences seek to achieve this aim.

The ITRs are the only truly global treaty on international telecommunications – a treaty that 178 countries are bound to but which is now well out of date having not been revised for 24 years.

The current ITRs are widely credited for creating the basis of today's connected world. They were a major driver of liberalization, privatisation and competition and enabled the development of the Internet.

This conference comes at a time when the ICT sector is having a major impact on economic and social development. It is an opportunity to amend the treaty in a way that will further extend the benefits of ICTs.

The new treaty should express the common will of ITU's members – both its government members and private sector members. ITU’s membership consists of 193 governments and, unusually for a UN organization, over 700 private sector entities, and since the beginning of last year universities and research institutes: we already have 38 academic members.

The preparatory process for WCIT includes regional preparatory meetings and a Council Working Group that meets in Geneva. All of ITU’s membership can participate in these meetings.

There are also meetings held in partnership with other organizations such as one that took place one month ago in Brussels jointly with ETNO.

We have also organised a special information session on 16 May during the WSIS Forum, and have been invited to organise an information session in the Caribbean.

The final meeting of the Council Working Group will take place 20-22 June 2012. The publication of its report will be on 29 June 2012 (five months prior to the conference) and will include a consolidation of all the proposals it has received.

Member States are asked to submit their proposals for the work of the conference four months before the conference and at the very latest 14 days before the start of the conference.

I am pleased to observe that the Council Working Group is achieving some degree of convergence at least on some of the high-level principles.

However, it is these regional meetings that are particularly important since in ITU conferences it is difficult to make a proposal if it does not have regional support, and it will be the regional proposals that will be the basis for negotiation at the conference.

We will also organize an information session in Geneva after all the regional organisations have completed their preparations, sometime in October. This will help ensure everyone understands the regional proposals and hopefully identify some common ground.

I would also hope there could be some informal exchange between the regions starting during the coming Council meeting in July.

Some of the issues on the table will no doubt include: the right to communicate; security in the use of ICTs and the protection of national resources; taxation; international roaming; misuse and hijacking of international numbers; and interoperability.

Other suggestions made relating to the new treaty include that it should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and source of cost to ensure a win-win for all players.

It should facilitate the benefits of Internet being brought to all the peoples of the world, in particular by encouraging broadband rollout and investment.

It should focus on telecom issues that can be agreed without involving the geopolitical agenda, and it should explicitly emphasise the importance of liberalization and privatisation, and should recognize the role of the private sector and market based solutions

It should encompass high-level principles, providing light touch regulation that encourages investment, innovation, and competition.

Any economic aspects should be subject to a stringent impact analysis taking into account the different levels of development in countries around the world.

Importantly it should be “future-proofed” and flexible, recognising that tomorrow’s world will be very different to today’s.

It should foster the right conditions to allow markets to flourish within a long-term vision backed by sustainable business models.

Clearly the current international regulatory framework is simply not equipped to deal with these challenges which are important for the creation of a fully inclusive information society, one that ensures the world's citizens can gain equitable and affordable access to voice, video and data.

The issues that are on the table for discussion at the conference are therefore vital to the creation of a fully inclusive information society.

The Dubai Treaty should lay down the principles for action on these topics at an intergovernmental level.

It should act as a positive catalyst for the future development of ICTs, to benefit all the world’s citizens.

I am confident this region will take an active role in the preparatory process and the conference.

Thank you all for attending, I wish you a productive meeting and my colleagues and I will do all we can to assist you reach a successful conclusion.