I am proud of ITU’s substantial and diverse membership – 193 Member States and around 700 Sector Members, including members of the Internet community, industry, civil society and academia. ITU members from different regions and different perspectives continue to work together for the common good and in the public interest to resolve complex and challenging issues.
It’s also important to acknowledge that not everyone may have the opportunity to participate in discussions at ITU. That’s why, as the ITU Secretary-General, I constantly seek different means to reach out and to engage all those whose ideas could make a difference. No one person, no single group or institution, no one country has a monopoly over good ideas. As history has reminded us time and again, the brightest minds can be found anywhere.
If international policy-making is to be effective and to achieve the desired impact, it is clear to me that the diverse views of all constituents must be taken into account when making these policies. This is particularly true when it comes to international Internet-related public policy issues as it directly impacts how we manage a vital global resource which must be considered today as a basic commodity for all the word’s people. As such, everyone’s views and opinions should be heard and accommodated in global Internet-related policy making.
In this regard, the multi-stakeholder model has been recognized at WSIS as the way forward for the global governance of the Internet. The WSIS outcome documents provided a set of framework principles for the multi-stakeholder model. In particular, a reference to the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder model can be found in many paragraphs of the Tunis Agenda (2005), including in Paragraph 35 which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder group.
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of WSIS, the global debate continues on this topic at various international fora including the UN General Assembly, ITU, UNCTAD’s CSTD, IGF, ICANN, and several others.
Recently, many proposals were received on this topic and carefully reviewed by a multi-stakeholder group at ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-13) held in May 2013, and its year-long preparatory process. Outcomes included multi-stakeholder agreement on six non-binding opinions to guide internet-related public policy-making as well as significant progress and a clear recognition of the importance of continuing the discussion on the role of governments in various fora.
It was so impressive to see all stakeholders coming together at WTPF and working in such a positive spirit of collaboration. I am proud that ITU continues to play its part to champion multistakeholderism and to use its convening power to facilitate constructive dialogue. That is why today, I am launching a series of informal consultations – called ‘Open Talks’ – on Internet-related public policy issues, including the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. I will adopt informal, open and inclusive formats providing opportunities for anyone, anywhere in the world to participate.
- A World Café on October 8, 2013 at the ICT Discovery in ITU Headquarters from 18:15 – 20:15
- A Town Hall meeting at IGF 2013, Bali, Indonesia (October 25, 2013 9:00-10:30)
- Online – through the use of an interactive crowd-sourcing platform (expected launch date: October 14, 2013).
The essence of the discussions during the informal consultations will inform my ‘Information Document’ which I will submit to the ITU Council Working Group on International internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) in November 2013. I also hope to be active on social media channels such as Google Hangouts and Twitter to further ensure that this conversation is as wide and inclusive as possible.
I look forward to hearing from all of you and listening to the different ideas and perspectives that you will undoubtedly share.
By Dr Hamadoun I. Touré
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré has been Secretary-General of the ITU since January 2007; he was re-elected for a second term in October 2010. He has wide professional experience in both the public and private sectors. A national of Mali, Dr Touré is committed to ITU as an innovative, forward-looking organization adapted to meeting the challenges created by the rapidly-changing ICT environment, and to continuing to spearhead ITU towards implementing the resolutions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Dr Touré is married with four children and two grandchildren.