Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to express my gratitude to the ITU Secretariat and its departing Secretary General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré, for convening this plenipotentaries’ meeting.
A special word of thanks goes to the government of Republic of Korea for hosting this very important conference.
Next year, the International Telecommunications Union will celebrate its 150thanniversary. The ITU has always been playing a crucial technical role in making
communication possible between countries and continents.
Today, we are once more witnessing a technological revolution: Modern information and communication-technology is linking people and businesses on all continents at a speed and in a scale like never before. Information technology is penetrating more and more all fields of our societies and economies and thus creating a host of new chances and opportunities for people and enterprises. It can integrate societies, can allow global discourse, not only between leaders, but also between citizens. It creates opportunities for education and science. The integrationof modern information technology in particular into the engineering and production process renders economic production much more efficient.
All of this has been accompanied and facilitated by the ITU’s beneficial work since nearly 150 years. The ITU is a true success story. In order to follow this highly successful path, ITU should stick to its core competences by technically facilitating the communication under the conditions of modern technology of each generation.
The ITU should not be politicized. This would overburden this institution. Germany supports the important role of the ITU including enhancing the robustness of networks, especially by setting standards. We are however opposed to enlarging ITU’s mandate into content related issues or into other questions related to the technical management of the internet which would exceed the mandate of the ITU. There are other fora to discuss these issues. As the internet is created and maintained by the private sector and is used by citizens all over the world, the governance of the internet cannot be legitimately discussed in the restricted circles of government representatives in a technical Organisation. For further developing internet governance, Germany will therefore stick to the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.
Germany is convinced that the growing information and communication technologies must remain based on existing fundamental principles, like the rule of law and the universal human rights. The United Nations General Assembly has confirmed that international law, and in particular the UN Charter, is applicable in cyberspace; and that human rights and fundamental freedoms set forth in the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments are an essential part of this. We are fully committed to these rights, especially to the right to privacy. Providing answers to these questions is important, and needs to be discussed in the appropriate fora.
On 20 August this year, the Federal Cabinet approved the German Digital Agenda, which is central to our economic and innovation policy. We live in a world that is digitally pervaded and becoming even more interconnected. This development is having a direct impact on our everyday lives, on the way we interact with each other, on our interdependence, on our work, and on our participation in the society. These are all changes that offer major opportunities for Germany – for long-term prosperity and a good quality of life for the people in our country. The German Government seeks to actively promote and shape the transition into the digital era. And we are prepared to provide our experiences on that track with all the other Members of ITU.