Nº 3 2014 > Council 2014
All signs point to Busan as Council 2014 wraps up
At the helm
The ITU Council met from 6 to 15 May to finalize preparations for the forthcoming Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 20 October to 7 November 2014. “We stand on the threshold of a bright and extraordinary future, delivered by the power of information and communication technologies. This is an important moment for ITU", said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré in his State of the Union address.
There were 421 participants from 48 countries representing ITU's total membership of 193 Member States at this year’s session. They were joined by 40 Member State observers, five Sector Member observers and representatives of three regional telecommunication organizations. Also in attendance were ministers from Australia, Cameroon, Jamaica, Mali, the Philippines and Tunisia, as well as vice-ministers from China and Costa Rica.
Opening the session, outgoing Council Chairman Marius Cătălin Marinescu, President of Romania's National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications, said that “Each day we lay the foundations for the future, each task we complete opens doors towards new challenges, each problem we solve just brings along other questions to answer. This is what our lives should be about — our struggle to leave the world we live in a better place, at least from the telecommunications point of view, should be our mission”.
Aboubakar Zourmba, Deputy Director-General of Cameroon's Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, was elected as Chairman of the 2014 session of the Council, having served as Vice-Chairman in 2013. 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. In the light of consultations with countries of Region E (Asia and Australasia), Wonki Min from the Republic of Korea was elected Vice-Chairman of the 2014 session of the Council.
Caroline Greenway from Australia was re-appointed Chairman of the Standing Committee on Administration and Management, and Marcin Krasuski from Poland and Vernita Harris from the United States were re-appointed Vice-Chairmen.
Implementing the 2012–2015 Strategic Plan
ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, presented the report on the implementation of the 2012–2015 Strategic Plan of the Union. The activities undertaken to date show how ITU has continued to provide a forum for debate and for international agreements on information and communication technologies (ICT). ITU has also continued to establish innovative standards, follow up on spectrum management matters, and work to strengthen capacity and provide technical assistance, all in the interests of Member States.
In approving this report, the Council authorized the Secretary-General, under the supervision of the Council Chairman, to update it in the light of councillors' observations, and add the results of the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-14), held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from 30 March to 10 April 2014, the Global Symposium for Regulators (Manama, Bahrain, 3–5 June 2014), the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations, and the WSIS+10 High-Level Event (Geneva, 10–13 June 2014). The final version of the report will be submitted to PP-14.
ITU Strategic Plan and Financial Plan for 2016–2019
In discussing the report of the Council Working Group on the Elaboration of the Strategic and Financial Plans for the Union for 2016–2019, presented by its Chairman Mario Canazza from Brazil, councillors stressed the importance of following the results-based management and budgeting methodology, of ensuring coherence between the financial plan and the strategic plan, and of the need for the latter to be made flexible enough to ensure that it did not undermine the balance in the financial plan.
The Council endorsed Resolutions 71 (Strategic Plan), 72 (Linking strategic, financial and operational planning in ITU) and 151 (Implementation of results-based management in ITU), and will submit these resolutions to PP-14. It fixed the provisional amount of the contributory unit at CHF 318 000.
Draft revisions to Decision 5 (Revenue and expenses for the Union for the period 2016–2019) were agreed, subject to final decision by PP-14. Member States are encouraged to identify additional measures for balancing revenue and expenses. Brazil proposed a series of measures for reducing expenditure, and these will be transmitted to PP-14.
The Chairman of the Council Working Group on the Elaboration of the Strategic and Financial Plans, was authorized, under the supervision of the Chairman of the Council, to incorporate the results of any subsequent discussions, for example, in the Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG) or in the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG), into a revised version of the report for submission to PP-14.
China to increase its financial contribution to ITU
During the discussion on the financial plan, the Deputy Minister of China’s Industry and Information Technology, Lihua Liu, announced that, as of 2016, China would raise its financial contribution to the Union's budget from 12 to 14 contributory units, that is from CHF 3.816 million to CHF 4.452 million.
Council Working Group on Financial and Human Resources
Following a report from the Chairman of the Council Working Group on Financial and Human Resources, Bruce Gracie from Canada, the Council instructed the secretariat to provide a comprehensive report to PP-14 on rights, obligations and conditions for participation of Sector Members, Associates and Academia, as appropriate, in meetings of all three Sectors and in the Council and Plenipotentiary Conferences. The Council adopted a new draft resolution concerning the review of the current methodologies and development of a future vision for the participation of Sector Members, Associates and Academia in the activities of ITU. This resolution will be submitted to PP-14.
ITU’s operational plans for 2015–2018
The Council considered and unanimously approved the Union’s four-year rolling operational plans for 2015–2018, as outlined in the examples below.
Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R)
In ITU–R, the period starting in 2015 will be marked by the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting, especially in countries subject to the GE06 Agreement deadline of 17 June 2015. Work to complete this transition on schedule and to facilitate the implementation of the resulting digital dividend will be a priority, and assistance will be provided in cooperation with ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) and the regional organizations. The need to compile information on experiences with the digital transition for the use of all those engaged in the process was stressed.
The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015 (WRC-15) will decide on the future of radiocommunications in areas ranging from mobile and satellite services and broadcasting to emerging spectrum requirements and regulatory and procedural matters. Implementing WRC-15 decisions and preparing for the following WRC will constitute some of the Sector's key tasks in the coming period. Other tasks for ITU–R include delivering relevant recommendations, reports and handbooks in a timely manner, and continuing to assist the membership in implementing best practices in spectrum usage.
Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T)
With the convergence of the telecommunication and information technology sectors, the ITU–T operational plan for 2015–2018 aims to ensure that ITU–T continues to adapt to the changing environment. The first part of ITU–T's strategic goal is to develop interoperable, non-discriminatory, international standards that can be implemented on a worldwide basis. Therefore, any patents in the standards must be made available either free of charge or on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The second part is to bridge the standardization gap by involving as many ITU Member States as possible in developing standards. The third part is to collaborate with other national and regional standards bodies, forums and consortia.
Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU–D)
The four-year rolling operational plan for ITU–D provides the framework for implementing the Sector’s mission and objectives during 2015–2018. These years will be dominated by the implementation of WTDC-14 outcomes and of resolutions and decisions emanating from PP-14. A number of councillors laid emphasis on the assistance to be given to countries making the digital transition and the steps to be taken for countries unable to meet the deadline of 17 June 2015. Others drew attention to the assistance to be provided to developing countries in the areas of cybersecurity, broadband development and bridging the digital divide.
The General Secretariat aims for effectiveness and efficiency in the planning, management, coordination and delivery of services to support the Union and its membership. It ensures the implementation of the financial and strategic plans of the Union, and coordinates intersectoral activities. In the years 2015–2018, the General Secretariat will aim, among other things, to implement a resource mobilization policy, foster the implementation of the human resources strategic plan, maintain and continue to improve the conference and publications-related services to the membership, enhance security and assurance of ICT infrastructure and information assets, and foster greater understanding of the role of ITU, promoting its activities and mission to core constituencies.
International cooperation to enhance cybersecurity
Councillors expressed their appreciation for the work of ITU in helping to combat threats such as denial-of-service attacks, identity and data theft, and increasingly destructive and sophisticated malware. This work is aligned with ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda, which is built around legal measures, technical and procedural measures, organizational structures, capacity building and international cooperation.
Illicit use of ICT
Algeria, a prime mover in the adoption of Resolution 174 (Guadalajara, 2010) on ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues relating to the risk of illicit use of ICT, noted that the resolution was yet to be implemented. Algeria, backed by Saudi Arabia, would therefore put forward a proposal to PP-14 to revise the current text.
Child online protection
The Council Working Group on Child Online Protection emphasized the importance of international cooperation in addressing child online safety. Several councillors encouraged ITU to continue its action in this field.
ITU's activities for youth
Some of ITU's activities on youth fall within the Five-Year Action Agenda launched in 2012 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to encourage and guide the work of the United Nations system. The agenda advocates the empowerment of young people, as does the System-wide Action Plan for Youth Development (SWAP), which the United Nations launched in 2013. ITU plays an active role in implementing SWAP and in inter-agency activities on youth. Other activities include the Young Innovators Competition, held every year as an integral part of ITU Telecom World events.
Councillors acclaimed the BYND2015 Summit on Youth, held in September 2013 in San Jose, Costa Rica, where young people were able to advocate for the inclusion of information and communication technologies in the United Nations post-2015 global development frameworks. Several countries that had sent young participants commended ITU and Costa Rica for this initiative.
Noting that there is no ITU-wide coordination and reporting mechanism on activities for youth, Costa Rica announced its intention to put forward a resolution to PP-14 to create such a mechanism. Poland offered its support. Bulgaria encouraged the ITU membership to increase the number of youth in their delegations. Saudi Arabia requested that indicators and benchmarks be developed to provide a baseline for the purpose of measuring and reporting.
The ITU secretariat appealed to national administrations to include young people and ensure a gender balance in their delegations to PP-14. It was agreed that an annual report on ITU's activities on youth will be presented to each session of the Council.
ITU's Internet-related activities
The Council noted a report summarizing ITU's activities within the scope of Resolutions 101 on "Internet Protocol-based Networks", 102 on "ITU's role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses", 133 on the "Roles of administrations of Member States in the management of Internationalized (multilingual) domain names", and 180 on "Facilitating the transition from IPv4 to IPv6”.
Councillors welcomed the role of various forums in facilitating discussions on Internet-related public policy issues, including ITU's World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and NETmundial, hosted by the Government of Brazil in Sao Paulo in April 2014.
The Secretary-General congratulated the Government of Brazil for hosting NETmundial — an event he and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Under Secretary-General Wu Hongbo had attended as representatives of the United Nations, at the request of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I believe that NETmundial is an important milestone in the global dialogue on Internet governance, and I am pleased that this meeting demonstrated the continuing desire for dialogue between all parties," Dr Touré told the Council, adding that he and Mr Wu had delivered a common message from the United Nations system, namely that “as a global public good, the Internet should be open, fully inclusive, free, reliable, robust, secure and trustworthy. It should ensure human rights online, and stakeholders from all nations should have a say in its running and development.˝
Councillors supported the principle of a multistakeholder approach to Internet governance, and several councillors also congratulated Brazil on hosting the successful multistakeholder event NETmundial. Turkey invited everyone to attend the 9th IGF in Istanbul in September 2014.
Council Working Group on International Internet-related public policy issues
Recent activities of the Council Working Group on International Internet-related public policy issues were reported on by the group's Chairman, Majed Almazyed from Saudi Arabia.
The group’s third meeting had examined the results of the consultations held with all the stakeholders concerning the fight against spam, international public policy issues relating to IPv4, and the development of Internet networks. The fourth meeting had examined the replies to the questionnaire which the third meeting had agreed to send out, and which had provided useful information on States' practices in the area of international public policy in regard to the Internet.
Councillors expressed their support for the group's activities, especially as a platform that fosters dialogue and experience sharing among Member States with regard to issues pertaining to international Internet-related public policy. They also welcomed the various online open consultations with stakeholders throughout the working period of the Council Working Group. In this regard, all Member States are invited to participate actively in the deliberations and contribute to the work of the group.
World Telecommunication Development Conference
Convened under the overarching theme of “Broadband for Sustainable Development˝ in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 March to 10 April 2014, WTDC-14 charted a course to accelerate and expand broadband uptake and digital literacy worldwide, particularly in the least developed countries. The key outcomes of WTDC-14 are the Dubai Declaration, the ITU–D contribution to the draft ITU Strategic Plan, and the Dubai Action Plan.
Councillors congratulated the Director of BDT and his team for the excellent results obtained at WTDC-14, and thanked the host country, the United Arab Emirates. They also expressed full support for the Dubai Declaration and Action Plan, which opened up new horizons. Several councillors highlighted the importance of Objective 5 “Enhance environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and disaster management efforts through telecommunication/ICT,” emphasizing that the measures needed to tackle climate change were at the heart of many countries' concerns.
The Secretary of Science and Technology of the Philippines, Mario G. Montejo, said that he had come to the Council to first and foremost deliver a message of gratitude for the assistance extended to his country by ITU 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. ITU's assistance saved lives,” he said, explaining that cell towers rated for 180 kilometres per hour winds had been no match for Typhoon Haiyan's greater than 300 kilometres per hour winds, and that the typhoon even affected an undersea cable, with the result that all communications were lost. “We are currently updating our policies on emergency communications, and are now in the process of putting in place resilient communications systems with valuable input from the ITU's real-world example.” he said.
The Director of BDT, referring to his efforts to link action in emergency situations to sustainable development, drew attention to the difficulties in shipping equipment following the occurrence of a disaster, and to the need for rapid delivery of useful equipment to the most vulnerable populations and to isolated areas.
Councillors underlined that WTDC-14 had set the tone for the year and hoped to see the positive atmosphere and constructive spirit experienced in Dubai continue at PP-14. The Council agreed that the ITU–D strategic component, developed at WTDC-14, should be incorporated into the overall draft strategic plan of the Union for 2016–2019 to be submitted to PP-14 for approval.
Climate change and protection of the environment
A report was presented to the Council on ITU's activities on climate change and the protection of the environment, ITU's contribution to the United Nations environmental agenda (with a particular focus on the ongoing negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), and progress achieved by ITU itself in approaching climate neutrality.
Cameroon called for further action to reinforce Resolution 79 of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2012 (WTSA-12) on “The role of telecommunications/information and communication technology in handling and controlling e-waste from telecommunication and information technology equipment and methods of treating it˝, observing that the transition from analogue to digital television will result in a significant increase in the quantity of e-waste. Cameroon — supported by Rwanda, Egypt, Mali, Italy and France — proposed that the Council ensure the effective implementation of the measures taken for the treatment of e-waste and protection of the environment.
The Council invited the ITU membership to contribute to the work of the Union as well as to the broader United Nations process on climate change, as envisaged in Resolution 182 (Guadalajara, 2010) on “The role of telecommunications/information and communication technologies on climate change and the protection of the environment˝.
ITU’s conformance and interoperability programme
ITU's conformance and interoperability (C&I) programme is based on four pillars: 1) Conformity assessment; 2) Interoperability events; 3) Capacity building; and 4) Establishment of test centres and C&I regimes in developing countries. Pillars 1 and 2 are led by the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) and pillars 3 and 4 by BDT.
Cameroon’s request to BDT for assistance in implementing the subregional telecommunication maintenance centre was supported. Councillors also emphasized the importance of test centres and virtual laboratories, and considered that ITU should formalize procedures, recommendations and guidelines for certifying such establishments vis-à-vis ITU–T standards. They welcomed the recognition by WTDC‑14 of the importance of conformance and interoperability, in devoting a new Question to the issue in its programme of studies, and stating in the Dubai Declaration 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˝. The United States said it would provide a rapporteur for this new study question on “Assistance to developing countries for implementing conformance and interoperability programmes˝, assigned to ITU–D Study Group 2.
Tunisia recalled that it had hosted several C&I workshops and seminars. The Russian Federation stated that the C&I programme was one of the most important activities in ITU, while China offered to make its C&I expertise available to developing countries. Several councillors from developing countries urged ITU to accelerate the programme to eliminate the risk of non-compliant or counterfeit equipment and devices.
The Council decided that a report from the ITU secretariat on the progress made over the past four years in implementing the C&I programme should be submitted to PP-14.
International numbering resources
The Council considered a document on International Numbering Resources (INR) and agreed with the view of TSB Director Malcolm Johnson that the assignment criteria for INR ranges that ITU assigns directly should be aligned more closely with criteria that national administrations have introduced to allow number ranges to be used more flexibly.
The Council instructed the Director of TSB to invite ITU–T Study Group 2 to set up an expert group to review the assignment criteria for INR ranges that ITU assigns. Further, the Council requested the Director of TSB to forward a report to the final session of the Council on 18 October 2014 on the advantages and disadvantages of using revenue generated from international numbering resources for the purpose of balancing revenue and expenses.
ITU's potential role as supervisory authority of the future international registration system for space assets under the draft Space Protocol
The Council considered a report on follow-up to the discussions that took place at its 2012 and 2013 sessions on the possible role of ITU as supervisory authority of the international registration system for space assets under the Space Protocol.
The second session of the preparatory commission for the establishment of the International Registry for Space Assets, held in Rome on 27 and 28 January 2014, considered that 90 per cent of the draft Space Regulations were already approved in principle. The entire Regulations will be presented for final approval at the September session of the commission, which will also consider selecting the space assets registrar. The commission is working on the assumption that ITU will eventually accept the role of supervisory authority.
Pending the entry into force of the Space Protocol, the preparatory commission will act as the provisional supervisory authority. If the governing bodies of ITU decide that ITU should not become the supervisory authority, the commission will appoint another international organization or entity for that role.
Annexed to the report was a note from the secretariat of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) clarifying the role of the supervisory authority of the international registration system for space assets.
Japan said that before deciding whether or not ITU should become the supervisory authority it was necessary to clarify such matters as how ITU’s mandate and activities correlated with the role of supervisory authority, and what the consequences would be if ITU decided to refuse that role.
The United States considered that ITU is at present the appropriate organization to serve as the supervisory authority, and called for an assessment of the feasibility of ITU performing that role, having regard to the financial, juridical and technical implications. The United States and others proposed that if PP-14 did not have sufficient information to decide on the matter, then it should authorize the Council to do so. Other councillors considered that the decision had to be taken by the plenipotentiary conference.
China was in favour of ITU agreeing to become the supervisory authority, provided that the financial, juridical and technical implications of that function were considered. One possibility would be for ITU to take on the role on a trial basis after the entry into force of the Protocol.
Councillors noted with satisfaction that the secretariat’s report clarified numerous points raised during previous sessions of the Council. They also welcomed the fact that the preparatory commission was proceeding on the assumption that ITU would be the supervisory authority of the international registration system for space assets.
The Council recommended that a full report clarifying all the legal, financial and technical questions raised by councillors should be submitted to PP-14 for action, as appropriate.
Meanwhile, the Council authorized the Secretary-General to continue to express ITU’s interest in becoming the supervisory authority, without prejudging whether or not ITU should take on that role. Further, it authorized the Secretary-General or his representative to continue to participate as an observer in the work of the preparatory commission.
Preparations for RA-15 and WRC-15
Preparations for the Radiocommunication Assembly 2015 (RA‑15) and the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) are well under way. The following dates and venues for these events have been confirmed: RA-15 will be held in Geneva from 26 to 30 October 2015, followed by WRC-15, also to be held in Geneva from 2 to 27 November 2015.
The Radiocommunicatiion Bureau (BR) was commended for holding regional preparatory meetings. The Director of BR, François Rancy, confirmed that BR would continue to support regional preparatory meetings. He informed the Council that an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meeting had discussed the recent Malaysia Airlines aircraft loss and that ICAO intended to ensure that the matter was brought up at WRC-15, which might well be requested to allocate frequency for the monitoring of flight data. The matter would probably be raised at PP-14, with a view to adding an item to the agenda of WRC-15.
ITU Telecom World
The Council took note of the outcomes of ITU Telecom World 2013 and preparations for ITU Telecom World 2014, which will take place in Doha (Qatar) from 7 to 11 December 2014.
The model for Telecom events — comprising a forum, an exhibition/showcase area, and interaction, dialogue and networking spaces and activities — was perfected at ITU Telecom World 2013. A post-event survey of participants demonstrates the success of ITU Telecom World 2013, a result reinforced by the surplus of almost CHF 2 million generated by the event, net of ITU Telecom secretariat operating costs, event costs and salary costs reimbursed to the secretariat.
China noted the immense progress made between 2011 and 2013 in ITU Telecom events in terms of scale, influence, participation and financial outcome, stressing the importance of considering new approaches to organizing the event to better respond to the different needs of participants. China called on all Member States to endeavour to increase ITU’s visibility and influence, learning from the lessons of Telecom between 2011 and 2013, and invited the Secretary-General to consider the appropriate future direction of ITU Telecom events and report to PP-14. Councillors endorsed China’s proposal, which should lead to revision of Resolution 11 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) on “ITU Telecom events” at PP-14.
Speakers welcomed the trend of growing revenue from ITU Telecom World events and the surplus of almost CHF 2 million resulting from the 2013 event, recognizing that such surpluses were in principle earmarked for assistance to least developed countries.
ITU efforts to promote remote participation and electronic working methods were highly acclaimed, following a report on work undertaken since the previous Council session in June 2013. A pilot project, now in its fourth phase, was one response to Plenipotentiary Resolution 167 (Guadalajara, 2010) on “Strengthening ITU capabilities for electronic meetings and means to advance the work of the Union˝.
Councillors welcomed the report, noting the benefits of remote participation in particular for developing countries. Several councillors highlighted challenges, including the importance of ensuring that the status and rights of a remote participant were equal to those of an onsite participant, the need to revise existing rules of procedure devised on the basis of physical rather than virtual participation, the need to ensure that the six official languages were used on an equal footing, the potential adverse effects of different time zones on participation, and the lack of opportunities to resolve difficulties during coffee breaks.
Responding to comments, the secretariat explained that the current regulatory and procedural framework, developed for onsite participants, does not cater for the full exercise of all the rights deriving from the status of delegate in a remote participation scenario. There are procedural and technical difficulties, for example in calculating the quorum, voting by a show of hands or secret ballot, in the impact of a lost connection during a vote, and in the exercise of all prerogatives by a remote chairman. The General Rules of Conferences, assemblies and meetings of the Union, the Rules of Procedure of the Council and resolutions of World Radiocommunication Conferences, World Telecommunication Standardization Assemblies and World Telecommunication Development Conferences would require revision if remote participation was to be applied to all ITU meetings and conferences.
The Council requested the secretariat to prepare a detailed report to PP-14 on the legal, technical and financial challenges of remote participation, as a basis for discussion of the direction to be taken and the procedural changes that would be required for remote participation to be institutionalized. The report should also address the equal use of languages, and access for participants with disabilities and specific needs.
ICT access for persons with disabilities
Promoting accessibility to ICT for persons with disabilities (Resolution 175, Guadalajara, 2010) has been at the heart of ITU’s activities in the past year. The Council noted with appreciation a voluntary contribution of USD 15 000 made by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority to the ITU Accessibility Fund for the Digital Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.
Indonesia, supported by Cameroon, China, India, Kenya, Romania and Turkey, proposed that adequate resources should be devoted to providing assistance to ITU Member States, particularly developing countries, in establishing the necessary mechanisms to fast-track the implementation of Resolution 175. The Council decided that it will put this proposal before PP-14 and also noted that its Working Group on the Strategic Plan and the Financial Plan had agreed to incorporate a new intersectoral objective on ICT accessibility in the draft Strategic Plan for the Union for 2016–2019. If PP-14 approves that objective, then resources will have to be allocated to this area of activity.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates suggested that the phrase “persons with disabilities” be changed to “persons with disabilities and specific needs" in line with the agreement reached by WTDC-14 regarding ITU–D documents.
Working definition of the term ˝ICT˝
A Correspondence Group on the Elaboration of a Working Definition of the Term “ICT”, set up in September 2012 by ITU–D Study Group 1 at the request of the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG), agreed on the following working definition of ICT: “Technologies and equipment that handle (e.g., access, create, collect, store, transmit, receive, disseminate) information and communication”.
TDAG in 2013 received liaison statements from the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), ITU–T Study Group 12 and the Chairman of ITU–T Study Group 2 voicing concerns about the proposed working definition. TDAG concluded that any further comments should be submitted directly to the Council.
So when this working definition was presented to Council 2014, the United States and others proposed that if the Council decided to transmit that definition to PP-14 (a step that it was not obliged to take), it should do so by sending the final report of the chairman of the correspondence group. That report included the definitions and all relevant guidelines and parameters under which the working definition was to be understood.
The United Arab Emirates and others considered the definition to be a work in progress, and stated that a definition not agreed by all Sectors should not be forwarded to PP-14 by the Council.
Among other views expressed, one councillor said that it would be preferable to define ICT in fundamental terms, observing that the proposed definition was somewhat tautological, since it used the words “technologies”, “information” and “communication” to define ICT. Another councillor recalled that ITU had been trying to define ICT since PP-06. Noting that many ITU member organizations had “ICT” in their titles, he proposed asking them (by letter) what they meant by the term. A report giving all the different responses should then be submitted to PP-14.
After a long debate, the Council agreed to transmit the definition drawn up by the correspondence group, together with the group's report, to PP-14.
Free online access to ITU publications
Over a 17-month period to the end of April 2014, there were more than 14 000 free downloads of the 2012 edition of the Radio Regulations yet sales of that edition are more than 9 per cent higher than sales of the previous edition.
Cameroon proposed that free online access should be extended to other documents of the Union. The Russian Federation proposed that the Rules of Procedure approved by the Radio Regulations Board, the Radio Regulations, and ITU publications concerning the use of telecommunications and information and communication technologies in emergency situations should be made available to the general public free of charge on a permanent basis.
These proposals were supported but some councillors wanted any final decision on document access policy to be deferred pending consideration of all relevant information, including the report of the Council Working Group on Financial and Human Resources.
The Council revised its Decision 571 to provide the general public with free online access to the following publications on a permanent basis: International Telecommunication Regulations; Radio Regulations; Rules of Procedure; Council Resolutions and Decisions; ITU–R Handbooks on radio-frequency spectrum management (these include the ITU–R Handbooks on National Spectrum Management, Computer Aided Techniques for Spectrum Management, and Spectrum Monitoring); and ITU publications concerning the use of telecommunications and information and communication technologies for ensuring disaster preparedness, early warning, rescue, mitigation, relief and response. The Secretary-General will report to PP-14 and Council 2015 on the impact of this decision on revenues.
Access to the reports of the Internal Auditor, the External Auditor and Independent Management Advisory Committee
The Council debated at length the subject of public disclosure of reports of the Internal Auditor, the External Auditor and the Independent Management Advisory Committee (IMAC).
While a number of councillors supported the public disclosure of these documents to enhance the transparency of ITU decisions, improve decision-making and help ensure accountability, some emphasized that caution must be applied in public disclosure of such information and that the documents must be carefully verified to avoid incorrect conclusions being drawn.
The United States proposed that the reports of the Internal Auditor and IMAC be made publicly accessible, highlighting the importance of transparency of financial management practices to build confidence among all stakeholders and to ensure continued support of the organization and its mandates.
Some councillors supported the United States proposal, others expressed reservations, and a number wanted to defer the discussion to allow ample time to study the matter.
In the end, the Council approved the publication on a temporary and exceptional basis of the report of the IMAC for 2013, the report of the external audit for 2013, and a summary of the internal audit report for 2013. Such temporary arrangements should in no way create any precedent, leaving it to PP-14 to decide on the general policy of accessing ITU information and documents.
Use of the six ITU official languages on an equal footing
Resolution 154 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) on use of the six ITU official languages on an equal footing mandates the Council Working Group on Languages (CWG-LANG) to monitor progress and report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution. A report from the Chairman of CWG-LANG, Imad Hoballah from Lebanon, acknowledges that the secretariat has implemented equal treatment of languages in terms of structure, processes, working methods, tools and resource allocation. However, the report notes two major items — Arabic terminology and use of languages on the ITU website — as requiring particular attention and improvement.
Cameroon proposed that the website be translated into the six languages, in application of Resolution 154. A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, India, Mali, the Russian Federation, Spain and Switzerland, supported Cameroon’s proposal. The Russian Federation emphasized that timely and simultaneous delivery of documentation is an important factor for equality of treatment and said it would submit proposed revisions to Resolution 154 to PP-14.
Saudi Arabia, backed by Kuwait and others, stressed the need to complete the Arabic terminology project and expressed the hope that the report to PP-14 would provide assurances that the use of the six official languages on an equal footing had finally become a reality. Others sought to know the financial implications of the recommendations set out in the report of CWG-LANG.
The secretariat explained that ITU clearly did not have sufficient financial resources to translate the entire website, given its volume and the cost of translation. All possibilities to make savings were being explored, and the secretariat would continue to do its best within the limited resources available.
The Council endorsed the report's recommendations, and adopted a set of updated measures and principles for interpretation and translation. Member States may wish to use a draft revision of Resolution 154 (contained in Document C14/INF/10) in preparing for PP-14.
Preparations for PP-14
Several presentations were made on the preparations for the Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan. First was a status report from the ITU secretariat, which also outlined a proposed structure of the conference as follows: four standing committees (steering, budget control, credentials, and editorial) and two substantive committees — on policy and legal matters (Committee 5) and administration and management (Committee 6) — as well as a plenary working group.
The Republic of Korea highlighted some of Busan’s attractions and provided information on the conference venue and facilities. The United States put forward a proposal and draft decision on providing webcasting and captioning during PP-14. The United Arab Emirates presented a document containing proposals to amend provisions 229 and 231 of Article 55 of the Constitution in order to accomplish a stable ITU Constitution.
All speakers thanked the authorities of the Republic of Korea for the preparations for the conference. Clarification was sought on the financial implications of the United States’ proposal. Both the secretariat and the authorities of the Republic of Korea were urged to facilitate the granting of visas, particularly for citizens of those countries without consular representation of the Republic of Korea on their territory.
Responding to questions, the secretariat said that while webcasting could be made available for all the main conference rooms, captioning in all meeting rooms had not been foreseen when the Host Country Agreement had been signed and would cost approximately USD 49 000. Should the Council wish to proceed with the United States’ proposal, Member States would be invited to make voluntary contributions to offset the cost of captioning.
The secretariat further said that ITU and the Republic of Korea were working to anticipate and resolve difficulties associated with the granting of visas. The Host Country Agreement allows, on an exceptional basis, for visas to be issued free of charge on arrival. For countries in which the Republic of Korea has no diplomatic representation, the possibility is being studied of issuing visas through a third State in which the Republic of Korea has diplomatic representation.
Regarding the proposal by the United Arab Emirates on the entry into force of constitutional amendments, the secretariat anticipated that the report of the Council Working Group on a Stable ITU Constitution would be considered by Committee 5 of PP-14.
The Council noted the secretariat's report and the proposed structure of PP-14. It was agreed that captioning will be provided as far as possible within the budgetary restrictions for PP-14. The Council also noted the proposal by the United Arab Emirates to facilitate and accelerate procedures for the entry into force of amendments to the ITU Constitution. The United Arab Emirates will submit its proposal to PP-14.
Project to replace the ITU Varembé building and study on relocation of ITU headquarters
The Council instructed the Secretary-General to submit a report to PP-14 for a decision on whether or not to replace or renovate the Varembé building, to rent premises locally or to relocate the headquarters of the Union. Councillors agreed that the report should cover all the current ITU buildings and should include a time-frame for action and a cost-benefit financial analysis for every option.
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
The Council took note of the report on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2014 and approved “Telecommunications and ICTs: Drivers of Innovation” as the theme for 2015.
ITU’s 150th anniversary celebration
The Council approved a report from the Chairman of the Committee for the preparation of the 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015, Nasser A. Bin Hammad from the United Arab Emirates. Essentially, the 150th anniversary celebrations should focus on ITU achievements in innovation and its impact on daily life throughout history and in the future. The Council also approved “Telecommunications and ICTs: Drivers of Innovation” as the overarching theme for the 150th anniversary of the Union, aligning it to that of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2015. Finally, the Council approved a draft resolution proposed by the committee to hold the anniversary celebrations throughout the entire year in 2015.
Council Working Group on the World Summit on the Information Society
The Chairman of the Council Working Group on the World Summit on the Information Society, Professor Vladimir Minkin, reported on the group's two recent meetings, which focused on ITU's role in the Overall Review of the WSIS Implementation. The Council considered the report and commended the multistakeholder approach being used for the WSIS+10 Multistakeholder Preparatory Platform (MPP) for its inclusiveness, effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Connect the World initiative
Councillors welcomed a report on the series of regional summits held as part of the Connect the World initiative, along with updates on progress in implementing the outcomes.
Cameroon presented a document describing the achievements in his country following the Connect Africa Summit, and proposing that ITU monitor project performance and check that the commitments of financial and other international institutions were being fulfilled.
Many councillors expressed appreciation for ITU’s Connect the World initiative and supported Cameroon’s proposal. Some emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships. Others advised ITU to report on progress under the Connect the World initiative (including projects) to Council 2015.
Information and Communication Technologies Development Fund
The Council approved the withdrawal of USD 2 million from the Exhibition Working Capital Fund to be transferred to the ICT Development Fund (ICT-DF) Capital Account. This approval follows a recommendation from the Secretary-General to transfer this amount, taking into account the high demands from the membership for support to various projects at national, regional and global levels.
Future reports on ICT-DF will provide more details about projects supported by the fund, including the Regional Initiatives approved by WTDC-14.
Strengthening ITU's regional presence
The Council saluted progress made over the past four years by ITU in implementing Resolution 25 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) on strengthening its regional presence. In particular, councillors appreciated the new approach promoted by the Director of BDT, whereby the regional initiatives are considered the main deliverables of BDT at country level. They also welcomed the new focus of regional development forums, now being used as tools to inform the membership about the activities carried out at regional level and to get feedback on the approach to be followed according to each region's needs and priorities. Several councillors supported a contribution from Cameroon calling for further reinforcement of the regional presence.
BDT will continue to enter into partnerships with entities, in particular the private sector, governments and nongovernmental organizations, in order to implement activities, including projects identified by the Connect summits.
Mainstreaming gender in ITU
During 2013–2014, much has been achieved in ”Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies˝ (Resolution 70, Rev. Guadalajara, 2010). The Council welcomed the progress made in implementing the ITU Gender Equality and Mainstreaming Policy (GEM) that it approved last year. Among the steps taken to implement the new policy is the creation of a Gender Task Force, which is preparing an ITU-wide action plan.
Some councillors hoped to see more being done within ITU and its membership. Switzerland encouraged the ITU management to introduce more flexible working arrangements, and requested that more detailed statistics be included in the annual report, such as the number of applicants by grade and gender who are pre-selected, shortlisted and then selected for posts.
Australian Minister emphasizes the need for innovation
Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recalled that Australia has been a Council Member State for 55 years, saying ”It is a position that we greatly value. We value the ITU's work in radiocommunications, its work in telecommunications development and in reducing the digital divide, and the opportunity Australia has had to work together with the ITU Regional Office in Bangkok on furthering these issues.˝
Mr Turnbull noted that the Dubai Declaration recently adopted at WTDC-14 describes telecommunications and ICT infrastructure, services and applications as powerful tools for economic growth and innovation. ”This is true of course, and yet infrastructure, services and applications will not foster innovation and — from that — economic growth if innovation is hampered in other ways. Governments cannot legislate innovation, but what we can and should do is make it much easier for businesses in our countries to innovate,˝ he said.
Malian Minister commends ITU officials for their great achievements
Mali's Minister for the Digital Economy, Information and Communication, Mahamadou Camara, said that Council Chairman Aboubakar Zourmba, who represented not only Cameroon but also Africa as a whole, could count on Mali's full support. He congratulated the Secretary-General and all the elected officials and their colleagues on the excellent work they had accomplished.
Qatar invites Council Member States to ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha
Ambassador Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Henzab, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, said that his country, which had successfully organized numerous regional and world events, was looking forward to hosting Telecom World 2014 from 7 to 10 December. He invited all councillors to participate actively in that highly influential event for the global ICT community and to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by Qatar for cultural and recreational activities.
Tunisia committed to maintaining its close relations with ITU
Tunisia’s Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Information and Communication Technologies, Tawfik Jelassi, was pleased to announce that, following the adoption of a new constitution and installation of a government of technocrats, Tunisia was now a stable State. Tunisia was committed to maintaining its close relations with ITU and was ready to host meetings and conferences of the Union.
Jamaica’s competitive environment
Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, said that Jamaica had led the Caribbean region in deregulating telecommunications, and that the competitive environment had resulted in a 100 per cent increase in teledensity. Speaking as President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, he saluted the Secretary-General for his tremendous work in enabling people to become part of the knowledge-based world. ITU had supported CARICOM in areas such as Internet governance and spectrum management, and through a range of projects, in particular to eliminate roaming charges and to provide access to persons with disabilities.
155th anniversary of Russian radiocommunication pioneer Alexander Popov commemorated in ITU headquarters meeting room bearing his name
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré launched celebrations on 7 May 2014 to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Russian radiocommunications pioneer Alexander Popov and ''Radio Day'' in the Russian Federation.
”Radio Day˝ is celebrated in the Russian Federation on 7 May each year to mark the day in 1895 when the Russian scientist gave what is widely regarded as the first demonstration of communication over radio waves. Addressing the Council to mark the occasion, Alexey Borodavkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, gave a brief outline of the career of Alexander Popov and his impact on the development of radiocommunications. Tributes to the Russian scientist were also expressed by Ms Lyudmila N. Bakayutova, Director of the A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communications in St Petersburg, and Rashid Ismailov, Director of the Department of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Communication and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.
Silver medal for Council Chairman
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré presented Council Chairman Aboubakar Zourmba with the ITU Silver Medal for brilliantly chairing the session and for outstanding service to the Union.
Next Council meetings
The final meeting of this year's session of the Council will be held on 18 October in Busan, Republic of Korea. The Council agreed to the following dates and duration for its session next year: Tuesday 12 May to Friday 22 May 2015.