Committed to connecting the world

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

ITU WSIS Forum 2013

WSIS+10 Plenary Session One

Opening Remarks
15 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome you all – both those here onsite and all of the WSIS stakeholders following remotely – to WSIS+10 Plenary Session One.

It is a tremendous honour this morning to be able to welcome the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who is joining us for this session.

Since completing his mandate at the United Nations, Kofi Annan has continued to press for better policies to meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly in Africa.

This is a continuation of his role during his term as the UN SG, during which he was a constant advocate for human rights; the rule of law; and the Millennium Development Goals.

I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to our vice-chairs today for this session, who are the former Presidents of the WSIS Preparatory Committees:

  • Welcome to Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO, and Former President of the Preparatory Committee for the Tunis Phase of WSIS.
  • And welcome to Adama Samassekou, Président du CIPSH, Président du Réseau MAAYA, Ancien Secrétaire Exécutif de l'ACALAN, and Former President of the Preparatory Committee for the Geneva Phase of WSIS.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The WSIS Forum continues to grow as the only platform that provides a fully multi-stakeholder vision and which identifies the emerging trends and recommendations on the future of the WSIS process.

The presence of more than 60 Ministers, as well as private sector and civil society leaders, along with heads of UN agencies, is clear proof that this annual WSIS Forum is crucial for all stakeholders across the ICT ecosystem.

Today, we have a very important job to do; the job of building a vision for the WSIS process beyond 2015 in a multi-stakeholder environment.

We can rightly be proud of what we have already achieved, and we have been hearing success stories over the course of this week about how ICTs help empower people and organizations.

As we look to the future, let me take this opportunity to report on all the recent WSIS+10 activities that have been carried out in response to requests from WSIS stakeholders – which includes ITU membership as well as the UN Chief Executives Board, which asked ITU to take the lead on facilitating the WSIS Overall Review at the UN level.

Last September, ITU contributed to the 67th session of the General Assembly by providing an update on the Plan of Action for the Overall Review, as well as on all activities related to WSIS+10.

Building on this input, the General Assembly’s Resolution on ICT for Development resolved that the modalities for the review process will be considered and should be finalized by the end of this year.

Our discussions on the review process build on open consultations as well as the initial requirements and means for review which were developed during the 2012 WSIS Forum last year.

Early this year, in line with the Plan of Action, UNESCO hosted multi-stakeholder meetings on WSIS+10, co-organized by ITU, UNCTAD and UNDP. These meetings concluded with a series of recommendations to the process – and I am sure that Jānis Kārkliņš will brief us on the outcomes, and on the final statement in particular.

Distinguished colleagues,

As you may know the ITU Council, during its 2012 session, resolved to support a high-level event on the WSIS+10 Overall Review, to be held next year in conjunction with the World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14.

Both events will be held in Sharm-el Sheikh, at the kind invitation of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The WSIS+10 high-level event will be an integral component of the WSIS Forum, and is scheduled to take place from 14 to 18 April next year. We can look forward to hearing a few words on this later on from His Excellency Atef Helmy, Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

Preliminary steps have already been taken to ensure the effective organization of this high-level event in Egypt, and to make sure that it meets the UN requirements for high-profile events of this kind.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s WSIS Forum therefore represents a unique opportunity to develop multi-stakeholder consensus on what is needed for the WSIS process in the future – to ensure that the bottom-up approach of the WSIS process is preserved, and that the decisions concerning modalities also respect the real requirements of the use of ICTs for socio-economic development, while ensuring growth in the ICT ecosystem itself.

This multi-stakeholder consensus will build the basis for the input to the inter-governmental processes leading towards decisions on modalities for the WSIS+10 process.

In this regard, we are also proud that we have been able to respond rapidly to the urgent request from membership to launch the WSIS+10 platform as a single international window for all information and updates on the WSIS review process.

I encourage all stakeholders to engage in the WSIS+10 process, working together to build and create this publicly-available information sharing platform.

It is also my pleasure to inform you that ITU has also been actively collecting regional views on the process through the regional development forums and preparatory meetings for WTDC-14.

We have just concluded meetings in Moldova for the CIS region and in Cambodia for the Asia and Pacific regions, both covering more than 50 countries. The host countries for these meetings will be sharing the results with us here at the 2013 WSIS Forum.

In addition to this, Uruguay, the host of the 4th Ministerial Conference on the Information Society and shortly host of the upcoming ITU Regional Development Forum, is bringing us the views of the Americas region, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa is bringing us the African perspective.

Distinguished colleagues,

Measurement and monitoring of the WSIS outcomes, as well as future possible ICT4D targets, is of the utmost importance in the context of the WSIS Review process – and I would like to give credit here to the important work being done in this regard by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development.

The partnership comprises a number of intergovernmental organizations, including ITU, OECD, UNCTAD, UNESCO and the World Bank, among others.

We are also working hard to ensure a strong link between the post MDG process and the WSIS process. During the UNGIS substantive session on Monday, the 30 UNGIS members issued a joint statement in this regard.

During this meeting I would like to encourage our colleagues representing the different parts of the process to make their formal interventions and give us updates – and I would also like to encourage all WSIS stakeholders to have their say.

The outcomes of this meeting will be captured in the WSIS+10 Visioning Challenge and the WSIS+10 Visioning Communiqué.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This plenary is an important platform for us to report, brainstorm and plan on the WSIS process beyond 2015 – so let me now open the floor for interventions.

Thank you.