ITU Council sets stage for Plenipotentiary Conference

Endorses plans to mark ITU’s 150th anniversary in 2015

Geneva, 15 May 2014 – ITU’s governing Council concluded two weeks of deliberations which focused on the strategic and financial plans for the Union for 2016-2019 as well as on inputs to the forthcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, the highest governing body of the Union, that will be held next in Busan, Republic of Korea, 20 October – 7 November 2014.

ITU Council comprises 48 countries representing the ITU Membership of 193 States, with over 420 delegates attending. Ministers from Australia, Cameroon, Jamaica, Mali, the Philippines, Tunisia as well as vice-ministers from China and Costa Rica also participated. The 2014 spring session was chaired by Mr Aboubakar Zourmba, Assistant Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Board (ART) of Cameroon. Mr Zourmba emphasized the importance of digital inclusion and said that care should be taken to ensure that populations with literacy gaps are not condemned to digital exclusion.

The Council covered several agenda items, including those related to gender mainstreaming, ICT access for persons with disabilities, Internet-related activities, cybersecurity and Child Online Protection.

Countries expressed their appreciation and support for ITU's activities on protecting children online and especially congratulated the ITU Secretary-General for his leadership and commitment towards building a safer online environment for children and young people. ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré called for greater international cooperation to combat growing threats to cybersecurity and to the safety of children online.

The Council also reviewed ITU's activities on youth, particularly the BYND2015 Summit on Youth and ICTs, held in September 2013 in San José, Costa Rica, where young people were able to advocate for ICTs in the United Nations post-2015 global development frameworks. Council also took note of the ‘The Young Innovators Competition’, which is held every year as an integral part of ITU Telecom World events and invites new start-ups and concepts.

A report on the recent World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-14), held in Dubai 30 March – 10 April 2014, was presented to the Council. Many councillors took the floor to congratulate the host country, the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the excellent organization and hospitality. Convened under the overarching theme of ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’, WTDC-14 charted a course to accelerate and expand broadband uptake and digital literacy worldwide, particularly in the least developed countries, to enable their populations to access the benefits of digital inclusion.

The Council was updated on the status of ITU's Conformance and Interoperability (C&I) programme following WTDC-14, which recognized that “widespread conformance and interoperability of telecommunication/ICT equipment and systems through the implementation of relevant programmes, policies and decisions can increase market opportunities and reliability and encourage global integration and trade”.

During the Council session, Chinese Vice-Minister Lihua Liu announced an increase in the financial contribution to ITU by the Peoples’ Republic of China.

The Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines, Mario G. Montejo, referred to Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon in history that struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013, taking the lives of thousands and affecting more than 9 million people while causing damage to infrastructure and agriculture estimated at billions of US dollars. The Minister said he had come to the Council mainly to deliver a message of gratitude for the assistance ITU extended to his country in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. “ITU's response of immediately sending its experts with satellite phones and data terminals played critical roles at hospitals and evacuation and relief operation centres’” Mr Montejo said. “ITU's assistance saved lives.”

Council endorses plans for ITU’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015

The Council approved plans for the preparation of ITU’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015 and decided on the theme: ‘Telecommunications and ICTs: Drivers of innovation’. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which marks the founding of ITU on 17 May 1865, will also focus on the 150th anniversary theme.

ITU will be celebrating its 149th anniversary tomorrow, 16 May in Geneva. The World Telecommunication and Information Society Award will be presented to three laureates: Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; Ms Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea; and Mr Carlos Slim, Chairman, Grupo Carso and President of the Carlos Slim Foundation.