ITU Secretary-General response to members of civil society

by Anja Kovacs

Last week, a large group of civil society organisations wrote to the ITU’s leadership, requesting them to ensure greater transparency and openness of the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Today, we received the below response from ITU's Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré to our call. Though our request to allow members of the public to participate as observers in all aspects of the conference has still not been granted, we are grateful to Dr. Touré for the support he has expressed in his letter for our demands. Will the ITU Member States now, too, display such support at the ITU Plenipot when they discuss the openness and transparency that the ITU can and will display in the longer term? We will keep you updated as more details on the discussions emerge. The text of Dr. Touré's letter below can also be found on the ITU website.

The Secretary-General

Geneva, 14 October 2014

To Members of Civil Society 

I very much welcome and appreciate the open civil society letter on transparency at the ITU Plenipotentiary which was published online on 8 October 2014. This open letter reflects a positive approach, and I am very pleased to see that our efforts in reaching out to civil society have been recognized.

As I have done consistently since my election in 2006, I encourage heads of delegations to open the Plenipotentiary to the public and include civil society organizations in their delegations. I will continue to pursue this approach at the forthcoming Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Republic of Korea, which will include civil society briefings onsite.

It is also important to note that the draft of the main outcome document of PP-14, the ITU Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2019, has been developed using a fully-open consultation process lasting well over a year, and featuring all stakeholders, including governments, industry representatives and civil society. We have welcomed civil society’s inputs, which came through an online public consultation on the global strategy – the first such initiative by a UN agency. These inputs were included in the draft plan submitted to and subsequently approved by ITU Council in its 2014 session in May, and which now goes for final approval by PP-14.

Concerning civil society participation at PP-14, any entity can contact its government (or any organization admitted to participate in the conference) and ask it, in its contribution to PP-14, to take into account the organization’s views. Also, as mentioned, a request could be made to join a Member State’s delegation at PP-14, as Member States are free to compose their delegations as they wish.

It is also important to note that a request will be put to Heads of Delegation requesting that all plenary sessions at PP-14, as well as sessions of the substantive committees, will be webcast in full, enabling those not present to follow the proceedings. A request will also be made to Heads of Delegation to allow the media and members of the public to be present at the conference, in line with previous arrangements adopted at similar ITU conferences.

Concerning civil society inputs to PP-14, we will create a space on the Plenipotentiary web pages where we can publish your views, and I will myself continue to engage personally.

Finally, I will be publishing this response to your letter on our website and would encourage you to do the same.

Yours faithfully,


Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

ITU Secretary-General