The 19th Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which opened on October 20 ended at the weekend in Korea.
Delegates from around the world reaffirmed ITU’s role in global ICT development, and extending the Union’s mandate in emerging areas including harnessing ICTs to promote gender empowerment and to help address urgent issues such as youth unemployment, global disease control and aeronautical safety.
The conference attracted 2,505 delegates from 171 countries. Dignitaries present included Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, 76 government ministers, 36 deputy ministers and 56 ambassadors.
The conference further strengthened ITU’s mandate across existing work areas including bridging the digital divide, strategies to accelerate broadband roll-out, green ICT strategies to help combat climate change, the role of ICTs in disaster response, and the use of ICTs to promote accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The conference also agreed new areas of work, including the addition of an agenda item for the forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference on spectrum allocations for improved flight tracking, and collaborative work to harness the power of ICTs to combat the Ebola epidemic and future global health crises.
The Conference formally adopted ITU’s Strategic Plan 2016-2019 and the Financial Plan for the same period. Both will help the Union implement the decisions of the conference during the next four years until the 2018 Plenipotentiary, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates.
In his valedictory address to assembled delegates, outgoing Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré told delegates that the Busan conference represented a new coming together of countries determined to collaborate even more closely, as ICTs increasingly serve as the cornerstone of global economic and social development.
“ICTs are playing a vital role in each and every one of the great challenges facing humanity, from the MDGs and the SDGs to climate change, healthcare, education and good governance,” he said. “In the 21st century, ICTs are always part of the solution,” he said.
Other highlights of the Conference included the election of the top five executives to govern the UN specialised agency for ICTs for the next four years.
Houlin Zhao was elected the new Secretary-General, Malcom Johnson was elected Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson, Current incumbents François Rancy (Radiocommunication Bureau) and Brahima Sanou (Telecommunication Development Bureau) were re-elected and Chaesub Lee was elected Director of Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. All the elected officials will commence their new terms of office on January 1, 2015.
The conference also elected the twelve members of the Radio Regulations Board (RRB), the body which deals with global radiocommunications matters which fall under the purview of ITU.