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

Open Consultations on the Overall Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes (WSIS+10)

20 May 2011, Geneva, Switzerland


Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you here this morning for these ‘Open Consultations on the Overall Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes (WSIS+10)’.

Ten Years ago, in 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 56/183, which endorsed the idea of organizing a World Summit on the Information Society. This resolution recognized the leading role of the ITU in the summit and its preparation, in cooperation with other interested organizations and partners.

As a result, for the first in the history of the UN, we had a fully-inclusive UN summit with a multi-stakeholder character. The strong involvement of both civil society and the private sector in WSIS set new precedents for UN-style summits.

WSIS was held in two phases, with the first phase taking place in Geneva in 2003, and the second phase taking place in Tunis in 2005.

For the first time, through WSIS, we shared a common vision of the Information Society, and we addressed the broad and profound implications of ICTs on society.

As all of us here are well aware, the summit was highly successful in raising world leaders’ awareness of the importance of ICTs, and their direct and positive impact on development objectives.

The political declaration and Plan of Action adopted in Geneva expressly recognized the critical importance of ICTs as a tool to achieve the MDGs.

And I do not think, today, that anyone doubts the positive impact of ICTs. Indeed, we all know that they are the most powerful tool we have for accelerating progress towards each and every one of the MDGs, across health, education, gender empowerment and poverty reduction.

ICTs help empower the poor; increase access to health and education; enhance productivity; generate economic growth and job creation; improve sustainability and the environment; and enhance the quality of life.

Over the past few months we have also seen the important and catalytic role that ICTs now play in modern diplomacy and the political arena – for example with Wiki-leaks, and across the Middle East.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ITU adopted a resolution on the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of WSIS, in line with the Tunis Agenda and the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/252, which decided to conduct an overall review of the implementation of the Summit outcomes in 2015.

Resolution 172 of ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, last October, instructed me to come to the UN Chief Executives Board to raise the matter of this overall review with them – including the possibility of holding a high-level event in 2014/2015.

The Resolution further instructed me to propose to CEB to make the necessary preparations, based on a multi-stakeholder approach.

Accordingly CEB has tasked UNGIS with running open consultations – which is why we are here today.

In my function as UNGIS Chair for 2011/2012, it is my pleasure to initiate the open consultation process through this meeting. And I am very happy to see that from the beginning of this process we have with us so many representative of governments, civil society, the private sector and international organizations.

This is the very constituency that assures the mult-stakeholder aspect of the WSIS process: each voice can be heard, and every voice counts!

We must assess what in reality is needed for the overall review.

We need to define clear objectives, goals and expected outcomes.

We need to understand what type of meetings we need, and what type of preparatory processes will need to be organized.

Finally let us brainstorm on a possible time-line for all of these activities.

In our discussions we need to be realistic, and we also need to be conscious of the financial implications of our decisions.

Together, I think we can achieve a lot – indeed we have already achieved a lot – and I am optimistic that we will bring the WSIS process to a very successful conclusion.

Thank you.