Building Common Ground on Information and Communications Technology Issues

Posted by Daniel Sepulveda
September 18, 2013
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Despite diverse views among Western Hemisphere countries on policy approaches to information and communications challenges, we have more in common than that which divides us.  We agree on the need to build information and communications technology (ICT) capacity throughout the region and enhance participation in multi-stakeholder Internet governance processes.   We support emergency communications improvements and completing the transition to digital broadcasting.  We also support the adoption of affordable broadband service in furtherance of the goal of universal broadband access.

Just a few short weeks ago United States delegates participated in meetings in Montevideo, Uruguay, along with representatives from fourteen countries in the Americas, to formulate a common agenda for the development of ICTs.  These meetings continue in Mendoza, Argentina next month.

The relationships we built, along with honest dialogue and strong decisions made in Montevideo, constitute an important first step for the Americas 2014 World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTDC-14) preparations. It is at the WTDC that the global community determines the priorities and activities of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Development Sector for the next four years. 

My office is busy collaborating with government and industry to prepare proposals we hope are adopted as draft inter-American proposals to WTDC-14 at the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meeting in Mendoza. In Montevideo, we expressed our intent to work with the developing world to have the ITU engage in work within its mandate to help meet the needs of countries at various stages of development while guarding against policy initiatives that could threaten the open and interconnected global information system.

In Montevideo we agreed on regional initiatives to advance development efforts. We must advocate policies and identify places where countries can address continuing concerns regarding connectivity costs, lack of local content, cybersecurity, and barriers for entrepreneurs.   Our joint work with some of the countries who attended the Montevideo meeting was one such step.  After extensive discussions, we defined a new regional initiative with a focus on capacity building measures to help countries improve their cybersecurity efforts and strengthen the ability of developing countries to participate in existing Internet governance institutions, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the regional Internet registries, the Internet Engineering Task Fargentirce (IETF), the Internet Society, and the World Wide Web Consortium.  This initiative complements ongoing capacity building work already being conducted by these organizations in conjunction with ITU regional offices. 

We are committed to work with countries from our region and around the world to ensure WTDC-14 is responsive to their needs and the action plan is achievable within the mandate and resources of the ITU.  As with the outcome of the ITU World Telecommunication Policy Forum in May, the results from Montevideo add to our record for building consensus and producing strong outcomes.  As the State Department leads U.S. preparations for WTDC-14, we continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders at home and abroad to set a new course for the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector that facilitates the development of ICTs for all of humankind.

About the Author: Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda serves as U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy.

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