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World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15)

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao​

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) : Closing Remarks

27 November 2015, Geneva, Switzerland

Mr Chairman
Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors,
Mr Rancy, Director, BR
Mr Lee, Director, TSB
Ladies and Gentlemen

Dear colleagues,

You have just completed a most intense four-week marathon of debate and discussions leading to many agreements. I am delighted to see that your hard work has been well rewarded, and that you have achieved excellent results that you can well be proud of and have once again demonstrated the key role that the ITU Radiocommunications Sector plays in global telecommunications and information technology.

I know that your days have been long and difficult. I am also aware that you have achieved some outstanding results that will place ITU and the Radiocommunications Sector in managing the Radio Regulations – the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum for all radio services and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits – on a sound footing for the next four years.

I salute the remarkable spirit of cooperation of the 164 Member State Delegations participating in this Conference.

Distinguished colleagues,        

WRC-15 has been very important indeed in terms of its achievements. And while I cannot adequately sum up four weeks of intensive efforts in just a few minutes, the conference has reached significant achievements, having dealt with some 40 topics that were on the WRC-15 Agenda. Global Flight Tracking for Civil Aviation, Mobile broadband communications, Enhanced maritime communications systems, Road Safety, and Emergency communications and disaster relief, are certainly among them.

I was also very pleased that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement was reached to facilitate the establishment of a modern and reliable telecommunication network for the Palestinian people. The spirit of cooperation and compromise demonstrated by those involved in reaching this agreement is highly appreciated by the ITU. We commend their efforts in achieving this significant outcome. The revised version of Resolution 12 on Assistance and Support to Palestine was also adopted by WRC-15 and I assure you that ITU will continue to provide assistance for the development of telecommunications networks and cellular services in Palestine and elsewhere in the region.

WRC-15 has defined new and better ways to regulate radio services and applications.  In a world where radiocommunications are playing an increasingly important role in connecting people, I am convinced that the outcome of this conference will represent a major contribution in making the world a better ­–  and safer –  place for all.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the many women participants and look forward to greater gender balance in the future.

The US delegation can be congratulated for having the largest number of female delegates, with 39 women on the delegation, equating to almost a quarter of the whole US delegation.

I would especially like to congratulate those delegations that achieved or came close to gender parity at WRC. This includes Cape Verde, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, and South Sudan, which all achieved exactly 50% female participation.

Special mention should also go to Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Portugal and Thailand, all of which achieved one third or more female participation on their delegations.

At WRC-15, we have a total of 3200 participants present, of which 17.2% of female participants, up from 15.9% at WRC-12 – but this is still well below the 30% threshold, which is considered necessary for real change.

So this should be our target for the next WRC.

WRC-15 marks the great achievements of the last 150 years, by many considerations, WRC-15 will be recognized as a new milestone of ITU history.

Let me now move on to congratulate Mr Festus DAUDU from Nigeria, for his outstanding work as Chairman of WRC-15 and as the first African to Chair a WRC in the 150 years history of ITU. He has delivered quite extraordinary leadership and we are all grateful for his tireless dedication to the task.

Let me also congratulate the six Vice-Chairs of the conference for their excellent work, as well as the Committee Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Chairs of Ad hoc groups, who have done a tremendous job. Congratulations!

I would like to highlight the excellent preparatory process carried out over the past few years, which helped ensure the success of this conference, including the effective coordination role that played the six Regional groups.

I would also like to convey my special thanks to all the members of the Radio Regulations Board, who have done – and will continue to do – such important work here at ITU.

Let me also express appreciation on behalf of us all to François Rancy, Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau, and of course to Mario Maniewicz, Secretary of the Conference.  The staff of the Radiocommunication Bureau and the General Secretariat, including the interpreters, worked hand-in-hand to ensure that the conference was well prepared and that the necessary services and support was provided for its smooth running.  I thank them all!

Let me also thank at this point the Dean of the Conference, Mr Habeeb Alshankiti from Saudi Arabia who opened our Conference.

I also thank the Swiss and Geneva Authority for their great efforts to increase the security forces to protect the Conference, especially during the last two weeks, with armed police force deployed in front of the CICG, under my request at short notice in a weekend.  

I thank also the technicians, security staff and others who had served the conference in the past four weeks.

Last but not least, I would like to thank you, dear delegates, for your participation and your contributions to the success of WRC-15.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I will now come back to our Chaiman for the remarkable skills in bringing this event to such a successful conclusion. Mr Festus Daudu's patient and able leadership has been outstanding and I can only express my admiration and thanks for his untiring support.

I now wish to present a certificate of merit and a medal to the WRC-15 Chairman, Mr Festus Daudu of Nigeria, who is also the first African to Chair a WRC in the 150-year history of ITU. 

Ladies and gentlemen – it has been an eventful month ….and I wish you a safe return home.