FSM Delegation attends International Telecommincation Union Conference in Mexico
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): October 11, 2010 - The Federated States of Micronesia dispatched a delegation to the 18th Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication which began on 04 October 2010 in the City of Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico and will end on 22 Oct 2010. The FSM Delegation to the Plenipotentiary Conference is headed by the Honorable Francis I Itimai, Secretary of Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure. The other members of the Delegation are: Mr Jolden J Johnnyboy (Alternate Head of Delegation), Assistant Secretary for Communication; James A Naich, Deputy Chief of Mission at the FSM Embassy in Washington DC; Mrs Sharon Jahn, special advisor; Mr John Sohl, President/CEO, FSM Telecommunication Corporation; and Mr Fredy Perman, Executive Vice President/COO, FSMTC.
The International Telecommunication Union is an intergovernmental agency affiliated with the United Nations which regulates information and communication technology issues. ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and establishes worldwide standards.
The ITU includes a Plenipotentiary Conference, which meets every four years. This is the supreme organ of the Union. The quadrennial event, representing the highest authoritative body of the ITU, draws participants not only from the member governments but also from regional and international organizations, and the private sector.
The 2010 Plenipotentiary (PP10) Conference will determine the ITU's policy and strategic direction for the next four years. While the agenda of the PP10 is rather comprehensive, the Conference will also highlight issues associated with the management of the ITU as well as other critical telecommunication issues. Among the agenda items is the management and distribution of Internet number resources, including the distribution of IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses and Autonomous System (AS) Numbers, with a view toward ensuring that the shift to IPv6 does not disadvantage the developing countries. The subject of global cyber-security and the broad topic of ICT and broadband connectivity are also high on the agenda of PP10. Upon the conclusion of the Conference on 22 October 2010, the Member States are expected to approve and sign a Final Act Treaty.
In his Policy Statement during the Plenary Session, Secretary Itimai expressed appreciation to the ITU for the attention so far given to the unique needs of the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) such as the FSM, further remarking that, if the Union should fulfill its mission, the approach to addressing the unique needs of the SIDS must be on a sustainable, long-term basis, relevant, concrete, and flexible. Noting that the world's oldest telecommunication organization can make a difference for the SIDS, he stated that the "ITU is all that we have, it is the best there is - second to none," a phrase that was widely quoted on the ITU news-screen.
Aside from calling attention to the unique needs of the SIDS, as the FSM had done in similar conferences before, Secretary Itimai suggested specific priorities of the FSM Government for which the support and guidance of the Union and the FSM's development partners would be most welcome. One example is to ensure that broadband connectivity, a critical element in the FSM's ongoing nation-building endeavors, is expanded to the entire country, noting that approximately three-fourths of the population are still without access to broadband connectivity.
One main agenda item of the PP10 is the election of the officers of the ITU, including the directors of its key bureaus and members of the Council. The FSM was actively engaged in the process whereby candidature countries sought the support for their respective candidates. The members of the FSM Delegation also lobbied for support for issues considered highly important for the FSM.
In addition to several other bilateral meetings, another took place between Secretary Itimai and His Excellency Dr Hamadoun Toure of Mali, shortly upon the latter's re-election as ITU Secretary-General for the next five years, giving Itimai the opportunity to personally express his congratulations and best wishes to the Secretary-General from President Mori and the leadership of the FSM. Itimai also seized the opportunity to reiterate President Mori's policy of expanding broadband connectivity to the three remaining states, beside Pohnpei State, via submarine fiber optic cable, considering its potential to aid the FSM in its social and economic development.
The Seretary-General was also given a briefing on the other major telecommunication issues being pursued by the FSM Government, including a review for necessary legislative measures; formulation and implementation of a reliable and affordable ICT particularly in the high-priority areas of education and health, and extension of universal services for the rural and remote island communities. In addition, Secretary Itimai gave a "heads-up" to the ITU SG that, pursuant to the approved rules and procedures of the ITU relating to adjustment in contributory units for the LDCs and SIDS, the FSM Delegation was submitting a request for reduction of annual membership fees to take effect in 2012, if approved.
In the friendly conversation between the two men, SG Toure pledged his support in any way he can to narrow the "Digital Divide" for the FSM, stating that the initiatives as explained by Secretary Itimai and the members of his delegation "are good ones" that need to be further discussed and examined. He proposed to Secretary Itimai "to challenge each other" in seeing what can be done to help the FSM, suggesting that the FSM Government transmits a concrete request by early next year, reiterating his pledge in his speech to the plenary session to devote greater attention to the special needs of the small island developing states and the land-locked states.
Another major bilateral meeting that Secretary Itimai had at the margins of the PP10 was with Ambassador Philip L Verveer, Head of the US Delegation. It is significant to note that the meeting was held just before the Compact-mandated annual meeting of the Joint Telecommunication Board between the US and the FSM, including the RMI and Palau. The JTB, hosted by the US, will be held on Kwajalein.
In the meeting with Ambassador Verveer, Itimai expressed appreciation for the annual gathering to discuss issues of common concerns in the area of telecommunication and the FSM Government's commitment to ensuring that the JTB process is mutually beneficial and achieves the spirit of true partnership. He highlighted some concrete issues of concerns for the FSM, including the language of the Amended Compact relating to broadband connectivity especially in the Compact high-priority areas of health and education, technical assistance for frequency allocation table and relevancy of spectrum management tools, and cybersecurity.
Ambassador Verveer remarked that the US considers its relationship with the FSM as a special one and pledged to help in ensuring that the JTB process is successful and meaningful, inviting further discussion. Specifically on the issue of cybersecurity, he invited his key staff on the subject matter, Mr James G Ennis, who gave a briefing. This was one of the topics proposed to be taken up with Mr Ennis, at least initially by the officials of the FSM Embassy in Washington DC.
The FSM gained full membership in the ITU 1994. It has been a member of good standing since then.
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