Committed to connecting the world

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

World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA)

 Closing Remarks  

29 November 2012, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Mr. Mohamed Al Ghanim, Director General TRA
Mr Chairman of WTSA-12, Mr. Mohammed Gheyath
Heads of Delegations,
Fellow elected officials of ITU,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As this event draws to a close I would like to reflect on the importance of ITU’s standardization work.

Gathered together in this beautiful city of Dubai, I would like to echo the comments of many of our delegates – Dubai is certainly one of the most fascinating cities in the world.  This week we are fortunate to celebrate 41 years of the Union in this truly amazing city.  I would like to ask the permission of this august assembly to send a message of congratulations to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayn, President of the United Arab Emirates and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arab Emirates Vice President, Prime Minister, Ruler of Emirate of Dubai.

I would like to congratulate the United Arab Emirates for hosting a very successful event, this success largely being due to the excellent facilities, the highly professional staff, the legendary hospitality, and above all the peace, stability and security of this wonderful Emirate.

As this event draws to a close I would like to reflect on the importance of ITU’s standardization work.

Under the excellent stewardship of the Director of TSB, Mr Malcolm Johnson, ITU-T has led a new area of standards production that truly embraces the hyper-connected world that we now live in.

As well as taking into account convergence between the information technology and telecommunications worlds, we are now seeing a trend towards defining ICT standards for vertical sectors – enabling e-health, intelligent transport systems, mobile banking, and the smart grid, among others, as reported in detail by the Director TSB.

ITU’s standards for broadband are a vital component of the information society.

Indeed, the broadband services that we have come to rely on would simply not work without standards providing the access technologies to homes and businesses, and the transport mechanisms to carry information from one side of the world to another.

ITU standards gave most people their first taste of the Internet via simple modems. ISDN – also standardized in ITU – then became the technology of choice.

ADSL was arguably the first real broadband technology, opening up a whole new web experience for a new generation of Internet users. ADSL and its many variations are also standards authored by ITU experts.

New techniques are emerging for telephone companies to maximize their investment in copper wire and so-called bonding and vectoring techniques are now emerging to increase even the super fast ITU standard VDSL2.

If you are lucky enough to have an optical fibre connection to your home then it won’t surprise you to know that ITU is active here too. Fibre to the home – FTTH – standards are also being produced in ITU.

At the heart of the network – the so-called transport domain – ITU standards focus on new methods to make the most of installed fibre optics. Technologies such as wave division multiplexing, WDM, were pioneered in ITU, allowing many carriers to share the same optical fibre.

If you’re watching a video on YouTube or conducting a secure transaction on the web, the chances are that you’re using an ITU-T Recommendation.

The rapid increase in global IP traffic demands that operators can maximize their investment in existing networks while also preparing for the future.

Our experts – our members – also have their ears to the ground in order to detect what’s coming up next on the ICT horizon.

I would like to take this opportunity both to thank them and to congratulate them on these past achievements; what we have achieved here in the last ten days and what we will achieve in the future. This makes me very proud.
Ladies and gentlemen,

Now that WTSA-12 is nearly over, we can focus on the next study period – with confidence that the decisions made here in Dubai will provide focus to your work and facilitate the best mechanisms for that work to take place.

We managed to emerge from this Assembly with very little conflict or controversy. This is the true sprit of ITU; indeed consensus building is at the heart of what we do and has been our guiding principle during the last two weeks.

And I would like to hope that I will be able to say the same in a little over two weeks’ time at the end of WCIT-12.

I would like to congratulate all the new members of the study group management teams, and wish them every success in their new roles.

And of course I cannot forget the outgoing chairmen and vice chairmen for their great commitment and invaluable contribution over the past years.

I congratulate their countries as well as the numerous countries that have put forward candidates.

All of them have done so with an admirable and honest intention to sacrifice their time and provide their expertise to the Union, with its aim to connect all citizens of the world.

My thanks go to you all for your hard work in the various committees and ad hoc groups.

Our Emirati hosts did their utmost to help each and every one of us make the best of our time here in Dubai, and I am extremely grateful to them for their support.

My thanks, too, go to all of the ITU staff, and the team of interpreters who once again proved that they are our greatest asset.

Distinguished delegates,

We have had an eventful Assembly here, serving as a prelude to a new and exciting period for ITU and its standards work.

As Malcolm has noted many of the Assembly’s notable achievements I will not repeat them all here. We have adopted many key Resolutions including those on e-Health; Software-defined networks and e-Waste.

I share Malcolm’s enthusiasm for the establishment of a Review Committee to ensure that ITU-T’s structure will continue to meet the needs of the continually-evolving and converging ICT landscape. This will be very important in this increasingly complicated ICT world.

In addition I applaud the many revised and new Resolutions that focus on increasing collaboration. And a new Resolution that will help us explore how to better recognise the contribution of academia.

And, just days away from the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), the adoption of the Resolution inviting ITU Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites underlines ITU’s commitment to a free and inclusive information society.

This should send a strong message to the international community about accusations that ITU’s membership wishes to restrict the freedom of speech. Clearly the opposite is true. It is in this spirit – fostering an Internet whose benefits are open to all – that I would like to head into WCIT-12.

Revised Resolutions on Technology Watch, climate change, international naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources; Internet domain names and addresses; security; WSIS; IPv6 will serve to refine our mandate on these important issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me reserve my warmest gratitude for our Chairman.

Thanks to your able guidance and your confident leadership, patience and humour, we have been able to steer a clear course through some turbulent waters.

It is with great pleasure that I present you with the ITU silver medal in recognition of your work here and your constant support of ITU over the years.

Mr Mohammed Gheyath’s father is here with us and I would like to welcome him.  I imagine his pride in being the father of such a wonderful son, who led us during these last two weeks, with masterly patience, competency, and above all efficiency.

ITU is where east and west meet north and south, where we all join together, discuss and agree. A true society with all its diversity, complexities, complementariness, but above all this, a spirit of compromise, as we share the most important thing in common – our Planet Earth. 

I truly believe that we have emerged from this Assembly with a renewed strength and confidence that will help us to maintain ITU-T’s role as the key player helping to define the next generation of ICTs and connecting the world.

I expect you are all looking forward to getting home to your families. So let me simply thank you once again and wish you a safe trip home.
Thank you.