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ICANN at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference

31 October 2018
By Göran Marby


Earlier this week, I had the honor to speak at the opening of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2018 Plenipotentiary conference (PP-18) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Every four years, this conference brings together representative governments and members from telecommunications, information and communication technologies (ICT) and academic institutions from all over the world to decide the ITU's course of action and work program for the next four years. Decisions taken during this meeting have direct effects on how the world of communications will evolve, impacting the way billions of users communicate on a daily basis.

I would like to thank Mr. Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General and the delegates at the conference for their warm welcome and for the opportunity to highlight ICANN's evolving and collaborative relationship, within our technical remit.

The Internet is evolving in important ways. The ability to engage in multiple languages and scripts through the use of internationalized domain names (IDNS), and the expansion of the Internet with IPv6 are two notable examples. The security, stability, and the resiliency of the Internet remain paramount for ICANN's work to ensure a global interoperable Internet for all. Our engagement with all stakeholders and organizations, including the ITU, is an important part of our commitment to raise factual awareness and enhance opportunities.

I would like to provide some of the thoughts I shared with the ITU members in Dubai:

Mr. President, your Excellences, Ministers, Secretary Generals, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, before I begin, I want to thank our host, the Telecommunications Regulation Authority of the United Arab Emirates, as well as ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao, for giving me this opportunity to address you all this afternoon.

I am honored to be the first ICANN CEO invited to speak during an ITU Plenipotentiary. Also, I was happy to welcome Secretary General Zhao to the sixty-third ICANN Public Meeting, which was held in Barcelona, Spain, last week. It is always great to be with the ITU. It is important that we continue to work well together.

Over the course of the next three weeks, you all will be participating in important dialogues and deliberations that will set the course of the ITU for the next four years, and in turn, impact how the world communicates and interacts. As the Internet has continued to grow and expand, the ITU has played a key role in aiding its expansion and helping provide affordable access to communities around the globe. I want to applaud the work that the Broadband Commission has done in furthering this mission and also the work of ITU-D in working with the Regional Internet Registries in promoting the adoption of IPv6.

The Internet should be a resource available to everyone, so everyone can benefit. ICANN stands ready to work together with the ITU and its members to further this vision. We have a strong, collaborative relationship already, and I look forward to continuing building on it, not just during this meeting, but in the months and years to come. Looking around the room, I recognize a few faces from our meeting in Barcelona, and I want to thank everyone who is already an active participant within the ICANN community. I encourage all of you to join and participate in the many conversations currently taking place regarding the future of the Internet.

Governments play an important role in helping ICANN shape policy that ensures the secure and stable functioning of the Domain Name System. As our world evolves and changes, ICANN's role is to make sure that the unique identifiers system continues to function as intended. We appreciate all of you who contribute to these conversations.

Your continued support for not only ICANN, but the multistakeholder model that acts as the foundation of our community, is appreciated. We all have a responsibility to ensure that this unique resource allows everyone, both today and in the future, to build their own digital agendas and benefit from an Internet many already take for granted. We have seen, and may again, policies and legislation, often well intentioned, which can inhibit users to connect to this wonderful resource.

ICANN has only a limited sphere of responsibility but with our partners in the Technical Community, such as the Internet Society, the Regional Internet Registries, the IETF and the World Wide Web Consortium, ccTLDs, many of whom are in this Conference Room, we stand ready to provide factual information and advice. Please use us. I look forward to the days ahead, and for the opportunity to interact with many of you.

Thank you very much for having me here today.

The next couple of weeks at the ITU 2018 Plenipotentiary conference will witness serious discussions related to ICTs. ICANN is happy to be contributing to this critical conversation in furtherance of our mission to maintain an open, secure and interoperable Internet.

Most importantly, we are all committed to connecting people across the world – wherever they are.

*Link to recording of the address can be found here at 1:48:38.


Göran Marby

Göran Marby

Former President & CEO