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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013 Plenary 1

 Opening Speech
17 October 2013, Seoul, Republic of Korea


Your Excellency, Choi Mun-kee, Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning,

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and a tremendous honour to be with you here today for the first plenary session of the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace.

I had the privilege of participating in the London Conference on Cyberspace two years ago, and this is an issue that only continues to grow in relevance.

This is therefore a timely and important conference: particularly in a world where an ever-increasing proportion of human activity now happens online; and particularly in a world where major recent events in the news reflect growing global concerns about safety and security in cyberspace.

This is clearly a complex and multi-faceted issue, with many dimensions including:

  • National security;
  • Upholding universally-held values of freedom of expression and privacy; and
  • The need for the equitable inclusiveness of stakeholders from all countries in policy and decision-making processes – including stakeholders from the developing world.

Various bilateral and regional frameworks – as well as a number of global initiatives, including the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda, the GCA – aim to address these issues, but we have yet to develop a comprehensive and inclusive international framework for cooperation.

Such a framework can only be achieved by being truly-inclusive:

  • With the full participation of all stakeholders, and not just governments; and
  • With all countries participating on an equal footing.

Such a framework would need to take into account four key elements:

  1. Access to the Internet – which includes universal access to information and knowledge; quality education for all; and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity;
  2. The protection of fundamental rights, including privacy and freedom of expression – recognizing that security and privacy are not mutually exclusive goals;
  3. State involvement – taking into account existing provisions related to the respect of human rights, state territorial integrity and sovereignty; and
  4. International cooperation – to ensure the engagement of both state and non-state actors in achieving global cyber resilience for all Internet users; and particularly for children and young people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Securing cyberspace cannot be achieved by a few countries working bilaterally, or even multilaterally in isolation.

It requires active participation and buy-in from all countries – and especially developing and least developed countries.

Without this, we risk creating digital ‘high seas’ ripe for exploitation by cyber pirates and cyber criminals – which would defeat the entire purpose of a global framework.

Distinguished guests,

Following the World Summit on the Information Society, WSIS, in 2003 and 2005, heads of state and world leaders asked ITU to take the lead in facilitating international efforts to build confidence and security in the field of ICTs.

Two key initiatives resulting from this, within the GCA, include:

  • ITU-IMPACT, the world’s first comprehensive alliance against cyber threats, which brings together governments, academia and industry experts together to enhance the global community’s capabilities. ITU-IMPACT today offers services to 146 countries; and
  • Child Online Protection, an international collaborative network for the online protection of children worldwide. We count many UN agencies, as well as private sector and civil society entities as partners in COP.

ITU’s mandate also covers the discussion of various technical aspects of ensuring security in ICTs, including ITU-T Study Group 17, the lead study group on security-related standardization work within ITU.

I should also mention the WCIT discussions in Dubai, which included debate on how to balance the implementation of security provisions with commitments to human rights.

As a result, in the preamble of the treaty, we find the affirmation of Member States’ commitment to implement the treaty in a manner that respects and upholds their human rights obligations. We also find an article covering the security and robustness of ICT networks.

ITU regularly collaborates with other UN agencies, including UNODC, UNICEF and UNCTAD, as well as key intergovernmental bodies, such as the World Bank and INTERPOL, and global cybersecurity-related associations such as the Forum For Incident Response Team or FIRST, in order to facilitate a holistic approach to cyber-related issues and improve cross-border cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me come back to the need for collaboration and re-emphasize how important it is for all of us to work together. This is not a task for one country or organization; it is a task for all.

As you will know, WSIS was the most wide-ranging, comprehensive and inclusive debate ever held on the future of the Information Society.

WSIS was facilitated by ITU, under the guidance of the UN, and with the full participation of the entire UN family.

And for the first time, governments, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations and civil society all worked together, hand in hand, for the common good.

What is different between now and then is:

  • The incredible growth of the Internet over the past decade, and the growing worldwide recognition of its importance as an enabler of global social and economic development; and
  • The incredible proliferation of easy-to-use devices, applications and services, many of which didn’t even exist back in 2003 and 2005.

The world has changed beyond recognition in the space of a decade, and we need new frameworks to fit the evolving information society.

ITU has been playing its role in bringing stakeholders from across the globe together, but it is clearly evident that no single entity can achieve this task alone.

All stakeholders need to work together.

Distinguished guests,

In conclusion, let me reiterate the need for collective hard work – not only to make the Internet safer for everyone, but also to make sure we can all trust the online world and feel confident in cyberspace.

Without this, we will never be able to enjoy the extraordinary benefits awaiting humanity, when everyone has access to the vast benefits offered by the Internet.

And here let me give you ITU’s full commitment to doing whatever we are asked to do by our membership, within our mandate.

We are committed to collaborating and to working together.

Because only together can we achieve our common goals.

Thank you.