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

Global Symposium For Regulators 2012

 'Why Regulate In A Networked Society?' 

Opening Ceremony


02 October 2012, Colombo, Srilanka

Mr President,
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure and an honour to be here with you this morning for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Global Symposium for Regulators and the Global Regulators and Industry Dialogue.

The GSR has historically been a fruitful and positive occasion, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in ICT policy making and regulation, and I am sure that this year’s edition will continue this trend.

I am happy that over time it has evolved to bring Industry Leaders into a constructive dialogue with the regulators, and I salute the contribution of Private Sector in this year’s GRID (Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue).

This year, on the eve of the GSR, in addition to the Regulatory Associations’ meeting, we have held for the first time ever a meeting of the Chief Regulatory Officers of the ITU-D Sector Members, and I am very happy to have learned that their contribution to the agenda of our activities in the regulatory domain has been most valuable.

With this experience we have been able to mix the contributions of the law makers, the players and the referees in a single environment.

The theme of this year’s GSR – ‘Why regulate in a networked society’ – seems particularly appropriate to me, as I expect the discussions here in Sri Lanka this week to cover some of the same ground that will be covered at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12.

WCIT-12 will be taking place in Dubai in early December to look at ways of revising the International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs.

That of course is not the purpose of the GSR: we do not want to be diverted here by discussions of what should – or should not – go into the revised ITRs; there will be plenty of time for that in other forums over the next two months, and indeed via the WCIT open consultation on the ITU website.

WCIT-12 has already attracted an enormous amount of interest and media coverage – but not always for the right reasons.

So I would like to take this opportunity to summarize the key issues – and to dispel some of the persistent myths surrounding the conference.

Contrary to some of the sensationalist claims in the press, WCIT is definitively not about taking control of the Internet or restricting people’s freedom of expression or freedom of speech.

The same people who do not want WCIT to discuss this matter are the ones bringing it up, again and again. My call to them again is: Let’s go back to the traditions of ITU, based on consensus, cooperation and innovation.

There are other UN Agencies dealing with Freedom of Speech, Privacy and Freedom of Expression. They are doing it well. We shall let them continue so.

At ITU we get back to the real issues – which are about accelerating the rapid deployment of broadband to ensure that many more of the unconnected are given a voice online, and that the transformative power of broadband is accessible to all the world’s people.

Distinguished guests,

Simply put, WCIT-12 is about putting ICTs in the hands of all the world’s people.

It is about:
  •  Promoting affordable and equitable access for all, including people with disabilities;
  • The continued development of broadband – including an increased focus on energy efficiency and combatting climate change;
  •  Reducing the cost of international mobile roaming; how to prevent fraud; misuse of the telephone numbering system; and the empowerment of consumers;
  • Continuing investment in networks, services and applications;
  • And perhaps most importantly – in this very fast-moving world – continuing to promote a harmonious and conducive international environment that drives innovation.

Dear participants,

There is a busy and exciting schedule of events, with topical and important issues on the agenda, and I am pleased to be able to participate throughout these three days together.

Your Excellency,

The last time I came to Sri Lanka was in 2009, just before the end of the war.

I am very pleased to be here in a unified country that is putting economy for the people first.

This year’s GSR is taking place here in recognition of the very sound regulatory environment that has been put in place in the country, allowing competition, growth and innovation.

This is an opportunity for me to once again thank again our hosts, the TRC, for the wonderful facilities and the top class hospitality and support they have provided to ensure that the event is once again a big success.

This environment is conducive to more debate, more friction of brains, and more fruitful interaction.

In closing, let me wish you all a very successful symposium here in Colombo.

Thank you.