|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Noting Two Thirds of World Not Online, Secretary-General Urges Telecommunication
Conference to Close Digital Divide, ‘Ensure Universal Access’ to Technology
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message to the opening of the World Conference on International Telecommunications, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 3 December:
Excellencies, Secretary General Touré, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to address the ITU [International Telecommunication Union] World Conference on International Telecommunications. I thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting. Information and communications technologies are transforming our world — opening doors, educating and empowering people, saving lives.
The Arab Spring showed the power of information and communications technology to help people voice their legitimate demands for human rights and greater accountability. As we strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and shape the post-2015 development agenda, expanding the benefits of information and communications technology will be crucial.
In the coming days, you will review the agreement that underpins how we communicate with each other across the globe. Our overall objective must be to ensure universal access to information and communications technology, including for the two thirds of the world’s population currently not online.
A digital divide has no place in the information age and twenty-first-century knowledge economy. The management of information and communication technology should be transparent, democratic and inclusive. I am gratified that you have taken steps to open the process, including the vital voices of civil society and the private sector.
The United Nation system stands behind the goal of an open Internet. The right to communicate is central to the ITU’s mission. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom of expression across all media and all frontiers. As the World Summit on the Information Society affirmed, the free flow of information and ideas is essential — for peace, development, human rights and our common progress.
These freedoms are indispensable. We must continue to work together and find consensus on how to effectively keep cyberspace open, accessible, affordable and secure for all. I trust that together, Governments, industry and civil society will rise to this occasion.
I wish you a successful conference.
* *** *For information media • not an official record