Mr Jonathan Parapak, Indonesia
Candidate for the post of Secretary-General
Many consider that the ITU is threatened by the upheavals of the telecommunication industry. New organizations such as the WTO or regional bodies take center-stage and industry fora that are less formal and more focused multiply. What future do you see for the ITU? What would be your personal contribution (what initiatives/focus would you bring) as elected official to bringing innovation and fostering the adaptation of the Union to the driving forces of change so as to keep the ITU a pre-eminent forum for international telecommunications?
As Secretary-General I will do my best to preserve and even strengthen the pre-eminent role of ITU in the development of the global information economy and society. We are all aware of the dynamic changes in the telecommunications industry due to technological progress, liberalization and globalization of telecommunications operations. As a result of market liberalization and the convergence of telecommunication, computer and broadcasting/audiovisual technologies and services, many new fora have been created by market players. Other organizations such as WTO and regional organizations such as Asia Pacific Telecommunity are also playing their role and contributing to the development of global telecommunications.
Within the dynamic, almost revolutionary environment of the telecommunications industry, it is my view that the ITU must continue to be the pre-eminent organization. It must strengthen its leading role in coordinating technical, economic and regulatory matters relating to telecommunications and in extending the reach of telecommunications in the developing countries of the world. I will work towards improved coordination and cooperation with associated organizations in the telecommunications industry, enhance the efficiency and productivity of all units of the ITU, expedite decision-making and administration processes. Together we must improve our services to members and industry in relation to standards, regulatory issues and promotion of development. We must also enhance participation of members as well as major players and experts in the industry through the activities of the Union and through its advisory boards and councils.
In todays telecommunication environment, it is no longer realistic to believe that the Union can be the focal point for all matters relating to telecommunications in the global information economy and society. The world is now too complex and telecommunications too pervasive for a single organization to be the focus of all issues of concern to the international community. What do you consider to be the core competencies of the ITU? What issues should ITU focus on and what could be phased out of ITUs mandate or left to regional/sub-regional organizations? What should be ITUs role in telecommunication sector reform?
The ITU is the only intergovernmental organization in the telecommunications sector which enjoys worldwide membership, having 188 member states and about 500 non-government members. It is the only organization capable of coordinating the development and adoption of technical, operational and service standards for telecommunications on a global level and equitably coordinating the world telecommunications resources. The ITU is the only global forum where both developed and developing countries can come together on an equal footing to discuss policy and regulatory issues and resolve global issues in a transparent manner for the common benefit of the members. The ITU's competence in technical and operational standards' setting should be improved through speedier processes, participation of industry experts and better coordination and cooperation with other organizations which are dealing with standards' development. ITU is the only global organization which has the competency to ensure rational, equitable, efficient and economical use of the radio-frequency spectrum. This function should be further improved so that Members' needs can be served more expeditiously.
New telecommunications systems are being developed and soon to become operational such as the GMPCS services, for example Iridium, Global Star and Teledesic. The issue of worldwide regulation has to be addressed so that the operation of the new systems can be introduced harmoniously into the market. The ITU has the unique capability to coordinate and develop global policy and regulations for global communications systems.
Recent ITU conferences have shown that the requirements of global networks and national sovereign rights are increasingly on a collision course. How can they be reconciled in an ITU context?
Where there is a will to work together, certainly we can find a way. When I chaired the Global Mobile PCS Policy Forum, some people told me that the forum was doomed to failure and that it would be impossible to achieve consensus. However we found a way. How? I saw my role as an activist, not as a passive ITU diplomat.
I do not believe that the requirements of global networks will necessarily be on a collision course with national sovereignty. We have proven at the first World Policy Forum on GMPCS that solutions can be found which enable global networks to be introduced for the benefit of all countries, while respecting national sovereign rights.
Having stated that, we must recognize that there are many issues to be resolved and negotiated. ITU is the best forum for the resolution of such issues on an equitable basis, for the benefit of all countries. I personally will do my best and work proactively to ensure that potential problems can be resolved in a timely manner.
Demands on the organization are increasing faster than its resources: deregulation brings more players on the scene and, in turn, more members in the ITU; on the other hand, the financial foundation of the organization is eroding because of the smaller number of contributory units chosen by members. Various proposals to strengthen the ITU including cost-recovery and revenue-generation options have met stiff resistance as did the proposal to grant the industry a greater say in the allocation of resources and in the setting of priorities in exchange for a more important share in the expenses. What would you advocate as the way forward?
A multi-focused approach is needed to address the issue of resourcing. Certainly, suggestions such as cost-recovery, revenue-generation and greater industry (private sector) resourcing and responsibility in the ITU should be considered, be applied in a carefully arranged set of techniques designed to take advantage of the resource-generating ability of each method while, at the same time maintaining balanced and equitable roles and responsibilities for all ITU's members - State, sector, industrialized countries and developing countries alike.
There is another mechanism for increasing resources that has not been fully exploited yet in ITU - streamlining the ITU organization. This does not refer to downsizing. In fact ITU has been able to reduce its staff size quite effectively over the past few years. Here streamlining means improving the efficiency of the staff and ITU's organizational methods and procedures. Significant cost savings and quicker results would be the benefits of these efforts which could be translated as "improved resourcing". In fact, this approach has some real advantages since it does not require any external financial inputs and will improve the image of ITU in the eyes of its members. They will be getting "more for their money".
One of the key responsibilities of the Secretary-General is to lead efforts in making ITU a more effective and efficient organization. If we are successful in this task, then it should be much easier for us to attract additional resources from outside. Focusing on members' needs and giving "value for money" are the two best ways to encourage the improvement of the resource base of ITU.
Under strong leadership, the ITU can demonstrate its position as the only truly global coordinator of regulatory and policy initiatives for the sector. In an increasingly chaotic world, this role is invaluable. The ITU must continue to increase its credibility to perform this role with its members and the industry. Once it does so, members will see the value of providing financial support for the Union's initiatives through a variety of mechanisms.
Given the broad membership of the organization (vendors, scientific organizations, service providers, broadcasters in countries from the poorest of the planet to the most powerful nations), how can the organization address their competing needs in a cost-effective way?
The needs of the broad membership of the organization are now being served through the different units/sectors of the organization. The Technical Standardization Sector is responding to the needs in the technical and operational area, while the Radiocommunication Sector is responding to the need for efficient and effective use of the radio-frequency spectrum. The Development Sector is continually addressing the issues of development. We must be aware of the varying degrees of needs and attention which should be given to optimizing resources to address the most pressing needs on a priority basis, as determined by the members. As discussed in answering Question 4, maximum effort should be made to mobilize resources through a multi-focused approach so that the needs of members can be satisfied as soon as possible.
The technical standard process could, for example, be expedited through increased participation of experts from the private sector members and the radiocommunication process could be expedited on a cost-recovery basis, making possible recruitment of experts who would handle the necessary processes.
The 1995-1999 Strategic Plan said "At present, the ITU is surely one of the least known international organizations, in spite of the fact that the development of the global telecommunication network is increasingly vital to the welfare of humanity. The Members of the Union have asked it to play a leadership role in the international community. To do this, the ITU must communicate its message more effectively than it does at present, to ensure that governments are aware of the importance of telecommunications as a tool for social and economic development". What concrete steps would you take to fulfill this objective, what would be your "Communication" agenda?
I believe that the ITU must develop a much stronger "communications" agenda to get across the message of telecommunications development. This is an area where there are clear win-win approaches. Our industry members - broadcasters, service providers and others - can surely be convinced to develop and promote "public service messages", publicizing and advocating the goals of the ITU - human and economic development through better access to better telecommunications.
I fully share the view that ITU must enhance and intensify its communication to governments, industries, other international and regional organizations. When elected I will, together with experts in the industry, draw up a master plan for "communicating ITU" to governments, the industry and society as a whole. This master plan will include communication with governments, operators, industries, other international organizations, regional organizations and professional organizations.
I have chosen the dream which is to be my "theme" - "Communications for all, early in the 21st century". Certainly it must be possible to find the means - and the sponsors - to communicate the message of our dream for universal communications to and for all the citizens of our global village. This message would promote peace, understanding and goodwill among all countries and all peoples. It will also promote good business. I am sure we can find industry and country members of goodwill who can help us to communicate that message.
What would be your top three priorities for the period up to the next Plenipotentiary Conference?
My top three priorities for the period up to the next Plenipotentiary Conference will be:
1. Internal reform of the ITU, which would include improving efficiency, productivity and transparency in the management of ITU, the conferences and the service to members.
2. Strengthening the pre-eminent role of ITU in all telecommunications matters through proactive and anticipative processes so that ITU will at all times be in the forefront in resolving policy and regulatory issues relating to telecommunications, increased and improved coordination and cooperation with other international and regional organizations, expeditious technical standardization processes and radiocommunications services and intensification of encounters with the players in the industry.
3. Sparing no effort to promote the development of telecommunications in the developing world through mobilization of resources, promotion of partnership and technical assistance.
Any other message you would like to communicate?
When I was a small child in Sulawesi, Indonesia, I never dreamed it would be possible to communicate instantaneously with every corner of the world, not only by telegraph and telephone, but by interactive multimedia services. I now know that this is possible. I have a dream that, early in the 21st century, this possibility will become a reality, not only to the children of Sulawesi, but to those of Botswana, Bolivia, Kazakhstan and the rural and urban poor of our richer country members. I believe that if the ITU returns to its roots - to the spirit that led to the founding of the Union - we can find a way to make the world a better place through improved telecommunications. I also believe that we can find a way to make this goal important and worthwhile for all of our members - rich, poor, commercially or socially-oriented, technologically-advanced or developing countries.
When elected as Secretary-General, I will invite all members of the Union to work together for the realization of my dream - "Communications for all, early in the 21st century".n
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