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ITU’s election process explained

Election process PP22

​​​​​​​​​The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) works on behalf of its Member States, as represented in its highest governing body, the Plenipotentiary Conference held every four years.

This conference elects the organization's Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, and Bureau Directors for Radiocommunication, Telecommunication Standardization, and Telecommunication Development. It also elects the 12-member Radio Regulations Board (RRB) and the 48-state membership of the next ITU Council.

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, or “PP-22", taking place in Bucharest, Romania, between 26 September and 14 October 2022, will elect the ITU leadership team for the coming four years.

Elected positions

Unlike other United Nations agencies, which have just one elected head, ITU has five top posts filled by elected officials.

Under the rules laid out in the ITU Constitution, elected officials may serve a maximum of two four-year terms in any elected post. There is no restriction on those who have already served in an elected post from putting forward a candidature for a different elected post.

ITU's rules and procedures ensure fairness, impartiality, and transparency in its election campaigns. Candidacies for the five posts are open only until 23:59 CET (Geneva) on the 28th day prior to the conference, i.e., Monday, 29 August 2022.

The election process is set to begin on Thursday, 29 September, starting with the election of the next Secretary-General.


See the full, current list of candidates for ITU's elected management posts and RRB memberships, along with their CVs and vision statements, as well as Member States in the running for the 48-seat Council, by region.

Council composition and role

PP-22 will elect 48 of ITU's Member States, for seats allocated among five regions spanning the globe, for the next governing Council.

The Council serves as ITU's governing body during the four years between Plenipotentiary Conferences. It meets every year in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as in years when a Plenipotentiary Conference is also being held.

The Council ensures constant oversight of ITU Secretariat activities, policies, and strategies; manages Working Groups on specific topics designated at the Plenipotentiary Conference or by the Council itself; and prepares the ITU Strategic and Financial Plans for presentation to the Plenipotentiary.

Each of ITU's five administrative regions is entitled to a specific number of Council seats, allocated as follows:

Council membership as a whole equates to one quarter of the overall number of ITU Member States. A Plenipotentiary decision in 2010 increased the number of Council seats from 46 to the current 48 to reflect additions to ITU's global membership (now 193 Member States).

There is no restriction on how many countries can put forward candidatures, and no restriction on the number of terms a country may serve on the ITU Council. The countries serving the most Council terms since 1947 (when Council was formally established) are: Brazil, China, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States.

Voting rights

All elected positions at ITU are filled through voting among ITU's Member States at the Plenipotentiary Conference. Such positions include the five elected management posts, the 12 seats on the RRB, and the 48 Council Member State slots. Election outcomes are determined transparently through one vote for each ITU Member State.

In order to have the right to vote, Member States must be parties to the Constitution and Convention of ITU and must not be in arrears in their payments to the Union.

Member States also need to have their 'credentials' in order. Credentials are documents which confer full powers to the PP-22 representative of a Member State to vote and to sign the Final Acts of the conference. Each Member State's credentials must be signed by its Head of State, Head of Government, or Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The voting process for elected officials

Elections for ITU's five most senior posts – i.e., those designated for elected officials – are conducted by secret ballot.

These elections are normally held in three stages: first, the election of the Secretary-General; followed by the election of the Deputy Secretary-General; and then the election of the Directors of the Bureaux of ITU's three Sectors. Elections for the posts of the three Directors run concurrently.

To be elected, any candidate must secure a majority of votes. In accordance with the ITU Rules of Procedure, the required majority consists of more than half the delegations present and eligible to vote. Invalid and blank ballots are not counted.

If no candidate obtains a majority in the first ballot, then one or, if required, two further ballots are held, with an interval of at least six hours between each announcement of results (unless otherwise decided by the conference).

If, after the third ballot, no candidate has obtained the necessary majority, then a fourth ballot follows between only two candidates. This fourth ballot occurs after an interval of at least twelve hours (unless otherwise decided by the conference) and involves the two candidates who secured the largest number of votes at the third ballot.

Date of taking of office

Newly elected or re-elected ITU officials begin their tenure on the dates determined by the Plenipotentiary Conference at the time of their election and remain in office until dates determined by the next Plenipotentiary Conference.

The next ITU management team is expected to take up its duties from 1 January 2023, unless otherwise decided by the conference. Under the current rules, all elected officials are eligible for re-election only once in any given post.

RRB composition and role

The Radio Regulations Board (RRB) comprises 12 members representing ITU's five regions: A. The Americas; B. Western Europe; C: Eastern Europe and Northern Asia; D: Africa; and E: Asia and Australasia.

The RRB's job approves the Rules of Procedure for the application of the ITU Radio Regulations, including crucial provision related to the assignment and use of radio frequencies and the use of satellite orbits. It helps guide the ITU Radiocommunication Sector, supports the day-to-day work of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, and provides advice to ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference and Radiocommunication Assemblies.

The voting process for RRB membership

Voting for membership of the Radio Regulations Board normally occurs through a single round of voting, with members elected to the Board based on a regional allocation of seats: two seats each for regions A, B, and C, and three seats each for regions D and E.

The number of seats (12) is based on 6% of the total number of ITU Member States, and the number of seats per region is allocated based on the total number of ITU Member States from that region.

Voting is on a single ballot, relative majority basis, so candidates with the highest numbers of votes are elected, within the limits of the number of seats needed to fill for each region. Elections at PP-22 will determine RRB membership for 2023-2026.

In case of a tie within a region, the final result is determined by a Special Ballot. In such cases, the Special Ballot is held after an interval of at least six hours from the last announcement of results (unless otherwise decided by the conference). The Special Ballot decides only between the tied candidates.

The voting process for ITU Council Membership

Voting for ITU Council membership normally occurs through a single round of voting. Those Member States declared as candidates and obtaining the highest number of votes for each regional allocation (i.e., the top 13 for Africa, the top 8 for Europe, and so on) will be elected for the coming four-year period, i.e., 2023-2026 inclusive.

In case of a tie for places within one region, the final result is resolved through a second round of voting (Special Ballot) involving only the candidate countries concerned. This occurs at an interval of at least six hours after the first round (unless otherwise decided by the conference).

If the vote remains tied after the second round of voting, the Plenipotentiary Conference Chair draws lots to determine the winning country or countries.

For more information:

Last update: April 2022 ​