Second Virtual Consultation of Councillors - Snapshot Report

16 - 20 November 2020

ITU is governed by the Plenipotentiary Conference and the Council. The Plenipotentiary Conference is the supreme organ of the Union which determines the direction of the Union and its activities. It meets every four years. The Council, composed of 48 Member States, acts as the Union’s governing body in the interval between Plenipotentiary Conferences.

In times of COVID-19, to ensure business continuity of the Union‘s governing bodies, Councillors agreed to hold virtual consultations of Councillors to discuss the most urgent topics for the Union, and draw proposed conclusions to be approved either by a next physical session of the Council or by correspondence for those calling for an urgent decision by the Council. The first one was held in June. A second one – VCC-2 – was organized from 16 to 20 November 2020. These virtual consultations have allowed Member States to address most of the items initially included on the agenda of the annual 2020 physical session of the Council.

“Never before has Council’s task to ensure that ITU’s activities, policies, and strategies fully respond to today’s digital transformation been so important.”

Houlin Zhao - ITU Secretary-General

“Matters do not get easier, we get stronger, more resilient and more adaptable.”

Saif Bin Ghelaita - Chair of the Second Virtual Consultation of Councillors

Virtual consultation by the numbers

Translated into ITU’s six official languages on the Interprefy platform

272

Delegates attended the meeting on the interprefy platform

5

Days

48

Council Member States were represented

24

Delegates representing 12 Observer Member States and the Observer State of Palestine

12

Delegates from Regional Telecommunication Organizations and Observer Sector Members

55

Documents

Key outcomes of discussions

ITU events

Significant uncertainties persist regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including when it may be possible to resume physical meetings and travel. The scheduling of the main ITU events has therefore been discussed at length during the VCC-2.

The following ITU events were noted:

  1. ITU Member States look forward to the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2021 (WTDC-21) which will convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8-19 November 2021, preceded by a two-day youth summit. Ethiopia will be the first African country to hold WTDC.
  2. ITU Member States were warmly invited to attend the Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22) in Bucharest, Romania.

The following ITU events are subject to consultation of Council Member States by correspondence:

  1. The World Telecommunications/ICT Policy Forum 2021 (WTPF-21) has been postponed to 16-18 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.
  2. The Government of India has generously offered to reschedule the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2020 (WTSA-20), which will be held in Hyderabad, India, from 1-9 March 2022 as a seven-day event. Once agreed by Member States of the Council, all ITU Member States will then be consulted.
  3. The theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, to be held in 2020 (WTISD-21), will be "Accelerating digital transformation in challenging times".

Key discussions and proposed conclusions to be approved by consultation by correspondence

During the VCC-2, Councillors debated items that were considered as urgent for the good functioning of the Union and called for an urgent decision before the end of the year.

Subject to consultation by correspondence, the Councillors provisionally approved:

  1. new guidelines on fellowships;
  2. amendments to the Financial Regulations and Financial Rules;
  3. revision of Resolution 1299 regarding the strategic plan for human resources;
  4. new vice-chairs for Council Working Groups;
  5. the audited financial operating report for 2019;
  6. the accounts as audited;
  7. the creation of an independent and dedicated investigation position;
  8. the appointment of a new external auditor;
  9. the report of the Independent Management Advisory Committee (IMAC) and its recommendations;
  10. the ITU risk management policy and risk appetite statements;
  11. all the requests for exemptions presented to the Council.

Other issues

Subject to consultation by correspondence, Councillors noted the reports of the Council Working Groups and endorsed their recommendations, the report of the internal auditor, as well as the report by the Working Group on Internal Controls.

Councillors debated a range of other key issues, including: reviewing the sustainability of ITU Telecom events, considering ITU's regional presence, business continuity issues, and ITU's new building project, as well as a the impact of COVID-19 on the Union's activities.

Responding to COVID-19

This year, the world has been navigating unchartered waters. Due to COVID-19, isolation measures, national and local lockdowns, and the adoption of home teleworking and remote learning have boosted demand for telecom/ICT services very suddenly. Councillors congratulated ITU on how it has been responding to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, including remote teleworking, the transition to virtual meetings, and measures for the safety and security of staff. The ITU COVID-19 Updates webpage highlights all ITU initiatives, events, products and partnerships related to COVID-19.

Virtual meetings

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and introduction of global restrictions on gatherings and travel, a race began in February 2020 to continue to provide services to its membership uninterrupted during the pandemic. By mid-March, ITU had suspended all travel and physical meetings and gone fully virtual (including Study Group meetings). ITU has been using several conferencing technology platforms to support the business continuity of the Union and adapt to the different types of meetings. In May 2020, ITU developed "Guidelines and Best Practices for Virtual Events and Remote Participation". In early November, ITU started providing support for regional virtual events with remote interpretation. The ITU Secretariat is working further on simplifying and standardizing the support to Member States with respect to virtual and hybrid meetings to support the 'new normal'.

Virtual consultation at a glance

Media

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OneITU - We need your feedback!

ITU is working on a new OneITU website for you, other members and partners. Mobile friendly, in six languages, with smarter navigation and fresh content, it demonstrates how we use the Union’s expertise to create impact on the ground. We’d love to share the prototype and get your feedback by 20 December.

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