The Conference, which took place at the foot of the Taurus Mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, met for three weeks, 6-24 November, at the Vega Convention Centre, Sungate Port Royal Hotel, under the skilled chairmanship of Dr Tanju ataltepe of Turkey.
The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference noted the many developments that have occurred in a rapidly changing telecommunication and ICT environment that will have significant implications for ITU.
Mr ataltepe said.
It set the guidelines for ITU, as the pre-eminent intergovernmental organization in ICT, to foster the sustained development of telecommunications and ICT networks so that people everywhere can participate in the emerging Information Society and benefit from its vast potential.
At the closing Press conference, Mr ataltepe said that ITU was ready to face the challenges of the future, especially in implementing the outcomes of WSIS.
The Conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Turkey, His Excellency Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoan.
Over 2000 participants from 164 countries, including more than one hundred ministers attended the Plenipotentiary Conference, the supreme organ of ITU which meets every four years, and lent their support to the future work of the Union. The conference focused on a number of key issues:
- ITU’s role in Implementing the outcomes and action lines of WSIS
- Enhanced cooperation among the membership on international public policy issues related to the internet, such as internationalized domain names, to build bridges within the internet community and in the intergovernmental process
- To study ways for ITU to invite stakeholders to work together
- Promoting telecommunication/ICT development in line with WSIS objectives and the Doha Action Plan 2006, with emphasis on assistance to developing countries and disaster mitigation, prevention and relief
- Embracing cooperative projects that benefit all users in dealing with cybersecurity, in keeping with WSIS action line C5
- Convening a World Telecommunication Policy Forum in 2009 to address internet-related public policy issues such as interoperability and convergence
- Organizing a World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in 2012 to review the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR), a treaty that governs international communications
- Deployment of next generation networks (NGN) in developing countries
- Rotation of Telecom WORLD events
The Plenipotentiary Conference agreed on a strategic plan to guide the Union in its future work and decided on financial parameters for the 2008-2011 quadrennial. Several options were considered to reduce expenditures, including greater coordination and harmonization of work in hand. The process of ‘results-based budgeting’, introduced at the last Plenipotentiary Conference in Marrakesh in 2002, was reviewed and used as a spring board to launch ‘results-based management’ as the next step in reforming the Union.
Other decisions relate to:
- Strengthening of the ITU’s project execution function, including countries with special needs, to reflect new trends emerging in development and commercially oriented projects
- Special measures for least developed countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in keeping with the Doha Action Plan established earlier this year at the 2006 World Telecommunication Development Conference
- Specific mention of economies in transition in the ITU work plans
- Cost-recovery measures on satellite network filings and arrears accounts of Member States, Sector Members and Associates
- Strengthening ITU’s regional presence, to enhance the effectiveness of ITU programmes and activities.
- Twenty-five major Regional initiatives adopted by WTDC-06, including implementation of the ICT programme for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the agenda for connectivity in the Americas based on the Quito Action Plan
- Promoting the use of six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) on an equal footing in the work of ITU by unifying databases for definitions and terminology
- Human Resources Management and Development within ITU with a focus on training and capacity building
- Celebrating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day annually on 17 May in keeping with the recommendation of WSIS, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in March 2006
- Studying the management structure of the Union to enhance efficiency.
- Convening the next Plenipotentiary Conference in 2010.
The Plenipotentiary Conference closed with the signing of the Final Acts which contain amendments to the Constitution and Convention of the Union.
A Turning Point
Outgoing Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi expressed his satisfaction at the accomplishments of the last eight years of his tenure and stated that his legacy would pave the way for the enhancement of the future role of ITU.
I have come to the end of a long journey, a road of many twists and turns which took ITU to the pinnacle of achievement,
said Mr Utsumi.
During this period more than two billion new users have been added to the world’s networks, most of them using mobile phones, and more than 800 million users have been connected to the internet. ITU had anticipated and helped create this change by setting aside spectrum and by developing interoperability standards. ITU continues to be at the cutting edge of technological change, and telecommunications now lie at the heart of a global ICT business which is valued in terms of trillions of Dollars contributing more than 7 per cent of global wealth.
“The Plenipotentiary Conference has succeeded in opening many doors for enhancing the work of ITU and reasserting its mandate as the leading United Nations agency for telecommunications and ICT,” said Dr Hamadoun Tour, Secretary-General elect.
I look forward to the challenge of fostering the development of the industry as well as using the latest innovations to help connect people everywhere and especially the underserved. I expect to work in close collaboration with Member States and industry which have reaffirmed their support to ITU here in Antalya to achieve the goals and objectives set before us.
Along with my dedicated staff and colleagues at ITU, I will build bridges to a digital future through the active and meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society dealing with ICT. I believe that teamwork is the key to success.
At the closing Press conference, Dr Tour said,
The membership has set a task to deal with International Public Policy issues related to the internet in which ITU has been involved for many years in developing standards and providing services.
Responding to a question on ITU’s role in internet governance and management of the internet, Dr Tour said,
ITU is not looking at taking over internet governance. ITU very well positioned to manage internet resources and will continue to contribute to the growth of the internet in its area of expertise and along with all stakeholders.
Referring to the financial situation of ITU, the Secretary-General elect said that he would make all efforts, along with his management team, to present a balanced budget to the Council in September 2007 and continue the efforts of the outgoing Secretary-General in establishing good management practices.
The New Team
The Plenipotentiary Conference formalized the team of newly elected officials of the Union at a swearing-in ceremony on Monday, 20 November. Dr Hamadoun Tour took the oath as Secretary-General along with Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao of China and the Directors of Bureaux: Mr Malcom Johnson of the United Kingdom (Telecommunication Standardization Bureau) and Mr Sami Al Basheer of Saudi Arabia (Telecommunication Development Bureau). Mr Valery Timofeev of the Russian Federation (Radiocommunication Bureau) was re-elected to a second term.
Forty-six countries were elected to sit on the ITU Council, which acts on behalf of the Plenipotentiary during the intervening years. The following were elected:
- Region A (Americas): Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, United States, Canada, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
- Region B (Western Europe): France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Turkey
- Region C (Eastern Europe): Russian Federation, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ukraine
- Region D (Africa): Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Nigeria, Mali, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon
- Region E (Asia and Australasia): Japan, Korea (Republic of), China, Thailand, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Australia
The Plenipotentiary also elected the members of the new Radio Regulations Board:
- Region A (Americas): Ms Julie Napier Zoller (United States), Mr Robert W. Jones (Canada),
- Region B (Western Europe): Mr Mindaugas Zilinskas (Lithuania), Ms Martine Limodin (France)
- Region C (Eastern Europe): Mr Baiysh Nurmatov (Kyrgyzstan), Mr Wladyslaw Moron (Poland),
- Region D (Africa): Mr Hassan Lebbadi (Morocco), Mr Shola Taylor (Nigeria), Mr Aboubakar Zourmba (Cameroon)
- Region E (Asia and Australasia): Mr Ali Ebadi (Malaysia), Mr Shahzada Alam Malik (Pakistan), Mr P.K. Garg (India)
Among its functions, the Radio Regulations Board approves technical criteria used by the Radiocommunication Bureau in the application of Radio Regulations.