U.S. Government Policy Statement at the International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary Conference

Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda
Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Busan, Republic of Korea
October 22, 2014

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Chairman, Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates and colleagues.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to address the 2014 International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference on behalf of the United States of America. I especially want to thank our Korean hosts for their gracious hospitality.

The United States is committed to working collaboratively over the next three weeks to build consensus and enable a Union that supports global telecommunication development. We very much appreciate the opportunity to hear the views of our colleagues, including those with which we sometimes disagree. We believe these debates are vitally important to the future of global communications. But while frank conversations and deliberations are necessary, we should commit ourselves to finding compromises where we can and building consensus on these difficult issues.

We believe in the ITU. We believe it plays a vital and important role in enabling Member States to build bridges between nations. And we are committed to ensuring that the work we do contributes to the advancement of all our people. In that spirit, we propose that the ITU move forward on the basis of consensus, ensuring this Union continues to perform its vital work for years and generations to come.

Here in the amazing coastal city of Busan, this community can further the fruitful collaboration over the last four years that many other speakers, the Chairman of the Conference, and the Secretary General have already noted. Together with other stakeholders and institutions, this Union can and will make a contribution to the fulfillment of a fully inclusive information society. But it must stay focused and true to its mission.

The active participation of our Sector Members and other stakeholders in the preparation and execution of the 2013 WTPF and the WSIS +10 High-level Event made those events successful. The inclusion of a much wider range of the global community than simply governments made it possible to develop highly relevant and expert outputs that benefit not only ITU members, but all people more generally.

I commend the Secretary General and the Union for recognizing that increased inclusion is working and for taking an additional step forward by agreeing to make all the input and output documents of this meeting freely and publicly available. We should continue to move toward the full engagement and inclusion of all non-governmental stakeholders in all of the activities and work of the ITU over the next four years. We have nothing to fear from doing so, and much to gain.

This specialized agency of the United Nations exists to encourage and enable the deployment of telecommunications over air and wire and to ensure that those networks are interoperable and secure. We are not here to dictate or control how people use that connectivity to express themselves, organize, or create and operate the services that are enriching the lives of the 2.7 billion people connected to the Internet today.

We recognize that the rise and growth of that kind of connectivity comes with challenges as well as benefits. And the Internet’s multistakeholder community is working hard to ensure that existing Internet governance institutions are fully open and inclusive. Through these multistakeholder processes of cooperation and consensus, we can work together to most effectively address the legitimate threats that some of our colleagues have highlighted in their policy statements and that we all face on a borderless Internet. The multistakeholder processes of cooperation and consensus are the best way to ensure that the greatest possible expertise is brought to bear on these important issues.

Further, our sister organizations within the UN system at the UNODC, the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, in the General Assembly, and at the multistakeholder Internet Governance Forum are already airing and exchanging views on ways to address the aspects of the challenges of a hyper connected world that are within their specific purview and expertise. We should embrace the work of these organizations rather than trying to re-create, supplant, or undermine it. Give it a chance to work. Engage it.

We have come a long way over the last four years as a Union. Our leadership is strong. Our discussions are honest, direct, and increasingly transparent. These three weeks will test our ability to work together. We must pass that test, not for ourselves, but for our people.

I thank our host nation and look forward to building a stronger, united ITU.

Thank you.