Committed to connecting the world


WCIT-12: Closing Remarks by Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Closing of World Conference On International Telecommunications ( WCIT-12).

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 14 December 2012.

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I commence, let me once again thank the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates for hosting not just one but four important ITU events over the past three months:
  • ITU Telecom World 2012, in October;
  • The GSS and the WTSA, in November;
  • And of course WCIT-12, in December.

We are very grateful indeed – and we are very happy to have been able to celebrate UAE’s 41st anniversary together at the beginning of last week, on 2 December.

The UAE is a striking example of the importance of ICT development in the modern world, and I congratulate you on your leadership.

UAE deserves a round of applause because it has had the courage to develop the ICT sector for its people.

Distinguished delegates,

Twelve days ago, at the start of this conference, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, asked governments, industry and civil society to rise to this occasion.

Ban Ki-moon reminded us that there was no place in the 21st century for a digital divide.

At the Opening Ceremony, I said that this was a historic occasion – and a historic opportunity indeed.

A historic opportunity to bring connectivity to the two thirds of the world’s people who are still offline.

And in this endeavour, to quote Franklin D Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address:

  •  ”We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On the path towards bringing the remaining four and a half billion people online, we have nothing to fear. Nothing.

This conference has brought the developing world into the ITRs, and the new treaty text reflects many developing-country concerns.
And it is a richer and more powerful treaty for doing so.

This conference was all about connectivity and spreading the benefits of ICTs to all the world’s people.

Let me highlight some of our achievements:

  • The ITRs have been brought into the 21st century.
  • In particular we have addressed 21st century issues that were not even on the horizon back in 1988 –  such as roaming – and we have clearly recognized the realities of the new global international telecommunications landscape.
  • We have included new provisions on environmental issues, energy efficiency and e-waste.
  • And we have made initial steps towards the establishment of a global harmonized national number for access to emergency service.
  • The need to do much more for the under-served has also clearly been recognized – with a new Resolution on prioritizing fibre-optic cable access to landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.
  • I am also very encouraged with the new article on accessibility. There are at least 650 million people worldwide suffering from some sort of disability, and each and every one of them has just as much right as you and I do to have access to the full benefits of ICTs.
  • You made a bold step forward in terms of this conference itself in granting greatly-increased access to participants, including media and the public.
  • And I am very pleased that the documents and proceedings of this conference have been made as widely available as possible – with live webcasts of the main sessions, and archives and transcripts available to all, including the daily media briefings.
  • And I am pleased that we were able to actively and positively engage with civil society, both before and during the conference.
Distinguished delegates,

This conference was not about Internet control or Internet governance.

Let me repeat that: this conference was not about Internet control or Internet governance.

And indeed there are no treaty provisions on the Internet.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If the word ‘Internet’ was used frequently here in Dubai, it is simply a reflection of the reality of the modern world.

Telecommunications networks are not just used for making voice calls.

So our two worlds are linked.

And I demonstrated that by inviting the new President and CEO of ICANN, Fadi Chehadé, to speak at the WCIT-12 Opening Ceremony, 
and I also invited Steve Crocker, the Chairman of ICANN’s Board.

As I said last week, I look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead, and all that can be achieved by ITU and ICANN together, in 
a positive spirit of collaboration.

So let me repeat once more: the ITU has no wish or desire to play a role in critical Internet resources such as domain names – and the work of ICANN and ITU can be, and should be, fully complementary.
Distinguished delegates,

The conference has made a huge achievement in bringing global public attention to the different perspectives that govern modern global communications.

The work here has been intensive and I appreciate the efforts put in by each and every delegation.

The days have been long.

And the nights have been even longer.

But the dawn has broken on a new day – and a new set of ITRs that has just been signed by so many countries.

Delegations have had their differences.

But as the great Mahatma Gandhi said:
  •  “Honest differences are a healthy sign of progress.”
And there have been some challenges, and some controversies.
But as Martin Luther King said:
  •  “The ultimate measure of a man
    is not where he stands
    in moments of comfort,
    but where he stands
    at times of challenge and controversy.”
I do not think that we allowed differences of opinion about the way ahead to be confused with differences of opinion about our common goal.

And I do not think that we allowed challenges and controversies to divert us from our common goal to bring the benefits of communications:
  • To the 700 million people who still don’t have mobile phone network coverage;
  • And even more importantly to the 4.5 billion people who are not yet online.
Distinguished delegates,

A clear majority of Member States has already signed the new treaty – and these countries represent not just most of the world’s people, 
but the great majority of the world’s unconnected people.

We understand that some Member States need to go to their capitals and constituencies before they can accede to the new ITRs.

But we do hope that they will come soon and join the majority by acceding to the treaty, when the time is right, and help usher in a world
where opportunities for investment in new infrastructure abound, and where consumers can take advantages of new benefits such as reduced roaming charges.

Global communications remain a global issue, and I am confident that we will continue to work together for the common good.
Ladies and gentlemen,

The past two decades have been a period of extraordinary progress in ICT growth and development.

And I am convinced that the future will deliver even more dramatic progress.

And this progress will be very much due to the work that has been done here in Dubai.

It is tempting to wonder how the world will look when we next come together to review the ITRs again.

Will we still be using smartphones and tablet computers, or will we be using completely different communications devices?

How many quadrillion SMS or instant messages will we be exchanging every year?

Or will SMS and instant messaging be a thing of the past by then – swept aside by other technologies, applications or services?

We cannot answer questions like these with any degree of accuracy.

But I am sure that you have put in place the right framework to allow the ICT sector to embrace and profit from whatever new
developments and trends occur in the coming years.

Distinguished delegates,

Many of you have spent most of the last two weeks here indoors at the World Trade Centre, and you will not have seen much – if anything – of the outside world.

To those delegates, let me reassure you with the old proverb from the Tao Te Ching, which says:

  • “Without going outside, you may know the whole world.”
And without going outside, we have indeed been in touch with the whole world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I think we are all well aware that over the past two weeks we have been supported by an extraordinary organizational and logistics operation, and by months of planning and meticulous implementation.

Let me highlight this with a few dramatic numbers that can go some way towards describing WCIT-12:

  • We received a total of 1,275 proposals from Member States;
  • The conference welcomed almost 1,600 delegates from 151 Member States, including almost 70 Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ambassadors – as well as the private sector and civil society;
  • ITU’s website received over 13 million page visits over the past month – with traffic peaking at 150 Gigabytes of information downloaded on Monday 3 December;
  • From a communications perspective we have actively engaged with key communities through social media, with around twelve million impressions a day on Twitter alone, supplemented with daily live social media blogging;
  • Taking into account the six working languages of the Union, we have benefitted from 600 hours of interpretation and have translated almost 700,000 words;
  • And we have used less paper than ever before – managing the work almost entirely paperless throughout the whole conference, and saving literally millions of pages of paper.
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the coming years, ICTs will continue to transform the way we live, work and play.
  • They will continue to transform education, healthcare, transportation networks, the energy sector and the provision of government services – as well as global entertainment and workplaces worldwide;
  • They will continue to generate jobs, and drive growth, productivity and long-term economic competitiveness;
  • They will continue to be key in the global sustainability agenda;
  • They will continue to improve the lives of all people all over the world – including people with disabilities, and people living in the remotest regions of the world;
  • And they will continue to help us accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

At ITU, we have a duty and an obligation to all the world’s people, to ensure that ICTs deliver a better life.

We must also continue in our efforts to bring affordable broadband access to all, since broadband is the vehicle that will transport 
society from the ‘Internet of Things’ to the ‘Internet of Everything’.

We have heard from delegations large and small, and I am very pleased that everyone has had a voice – and has had the chance to be the change that changes the world.

And I am counting on you. I am counting on you, our constituency, our membership – to help us continue changing the world, as we move ahead.
I am already looking forward to the Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan in 2014, where many of these issues will continue to be discussed by all stakeholders.

Ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, I must give my heartfelt thanks on behalf of ITU:

  • To the Member State delegations which have taken part in the conference, and the States they represent;
  • To our Sector Members, for their continuing support – many have been present in delegations and others have been following the conference remotely; to all our remote participants out there, I say thank you;
  • To the Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Secretaries of the Committees, Working Groups and Ad Hoc Working Groups, who have done so much to distribute the workload of the conference and whose tireless efforts have enabled us to manage the large number of contributions received from members;
  • Let me also thank my fellow elected officials:
    •     Mr Houlin Zhao, Deputy Secretary-General;
    •     Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau;
    •     Mr François Rancy, Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau; and  
    •     Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau.
  • You have elected us together and over the past two and a half years we have been working as one.
  • I will move on now to the entire ITU staff – here in Dubai, back home in Geneva, and in the ITU’s regional offices – whose tireless work has made this conference possible.
  • Where would we be without the army of translators, interpreters, précis writers and support staff on whom we depend so absolutely? Let me give a special word of thanks to the interpreters – when we asked for five minutes extra, they gave us ten.
  • I would particularly like to single out the Executive Secretary of the Conference, Doreen Bogdan, who has provided myself and the Chair with essential counsel whenever we needed it.
  • Doreen: Congratulations on a job so well done! I’m very proud of you.
  • Let me also single out three key ITU staff who will be retiring after this conference, and thank them individually:
    • Idrissa Samake – who has been responsible for the Conferences and Publications Department, which provides so many of the vital services we depend on every day, from logistics and reproduction to interpretation and translation;
    • Richard Hill – who deferred his retirement in order to ensure the successful conclusion of this conference. No single ITU official has put in as much time and effort in this process as Richard – and we owe him a very special debt of gratitude;
    •  And Elaine Baron – Head of the Governing Bodies Secretariat, who has put in extraordinary work behind the scenes, not just in organizing everything with military precision – Swiss watch precision – but also in never failing to introduce new efficiencies and innovations.
    •  Thank you, Idrissa, Richard and Elaine. ITU will always b e open for you; come back and see us any time.
  • In closing, let me turn to our Chairman, Mohamad Nasser Al Ghanim, who has played a vital role in the work of the conference. You believed in it.
  • You have managed to keep your calm and your nerve throughout the long days and nights we have spent together.
  • You have always had a kind word for everyone.
  • You have recognized that WCIT is the beginning of an important new dialogue – a new dialogue that will bring fresh conversations into the converged world we live in.
  • I hope that you are satisfied with the treaty you helped to make. The Dubai WCIT will live on in the minds of every telecommunications citizen on this planet.
Ladies and gentlemen,

  • We have been united for nearly 150 years in this Union.
  • And this conference I know will not divide us.
  • This is a start – and nothing has ended here.
  • Indeed, WCIT is the beginning of something new.
  • Chairman, for your exceptional contributions, and for sharing our journey, I would like to present you with a certificate and with the ITU Gold Medal.
Thank you.