Revised global treaty to assure free flow of information worldwide
Delegates from over 160 countries meeting in Dubai have finished drafting the text of a revised global treaty that sets out general principles for assuring the free flow of information worldwide, the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced Thursday.
"This treaty contains many gains and achievements, including increased transparency in international mobile roaming charges and competition, an extremely important win for consumers," ITU's Secretary-General, Hamadoun I. Toure, said in a statement.
The drafting of the revised International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) treaty marks the culmination of the ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications, which began in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates on Dec 3.
The current ITRs functions as the binding global treaty designed to facilitate international interconnection of information and communication services, as well as ensuring their efficiency and widespread public usefulness and availability.
Toure noted that the revised treaty contains a newly updated article that will promote greater connectivity for people with disabilities as well as a new resolution covering land-locked developing nations and small island developing States.
"This resolution will set the framework for increased investment and roll out of broadband and mobile broadband, bringing vital services to populations that are currently disconnected," he stated.
"Information and communication technologies can now play a greater role in driving sustainable development, in particular with new articles that provide recommendations for dealing with the growing scourge of e-waste and promoting greater energy efficiency," he added.
"I have been saying in the run-up to this conference that this conference is not about governing the Internet," Toure stated, referring to various reports that the conference was trying to restrict freedom online. "I repeat that the conference did not include provisions on the Internet in the treaty text."
Annexed to the treaty, he noted, is a non-binding resolution that aims to foster the development and growth of the Internet - a task that ITU has contributed significantly to since the beginning of the Internet era. It is also a task that is central to the ITU's mandate to connect the world - a world that today still has two thirds of its population without Internet access, he added.
"History will show that this conference has achieved something extremely important," the ITU head said. "It has succeeded in bringing unprecedented public attention to the different and important perspectives that govern global communications. There is not one single world view but several, and these views need to be accommodated and engaged."