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The UK gets a go on the ITU governing council

For some reason the UK wasn’t previously one of the 48 countries on the governing council of the UN’s telecommunications agency.

As you can see from the screenshot of the ITU’s Wikipedia page that had yet to be updated at the time we took it. Despite being an ITU member over 150 years, the UK was previously not one of its 48 governing council members. It probably didn’t matter but still seems a bit weird that one of the countries that has been at the centre of the telecoms industry since its inception was considered unworthy for whatever reason.

Maybe they figured, pre Brexit, that Germany and France spoke for the rest of the EU so there was no point in getting any of the others involved. But that doesn’t explain Italy, Spain, etc. Anyway, we’re apparently off the UN naughty step and can now get involved in all the vital stuff the ITU does like doshing out country codes. Sweden was also added, while Hungary and Greece seem to have been dropped.

“The UK is a technology superpower and has always played a leading role setting international standards for telecoms and innovations which have improved billions of people’s lives across the globe,” said UK Tech and Digital Economy Minister Damian Collins. “With a seat on the ITU’s governing council, we will champion tech as a solution to the world’s biggest challenges, redouble our efforts to close the divide between those cut off from technology and those in the digital fast lane and make sure the internet remains free and open.”

“I’m delighted the UK has been selected to help lead the ITU’s mission in realising everyone’s right to communicate freely and securely, wherever they are in the world,” said Foreign Office Minister of State and UK Special Representative to the ITU, Lord Ahmad. “Through our seat in the governing council, we’ll work with all states to ensure the organisation delivers for its members and bridges the digital divide.”

The climate around the ITU seems more politicised than usual, largely thanks to the US making 5G into a national security matter. It managed to get one of its own at the top of the organisation, replacing a Chinese Secretary General and defeating a Russian candidate in the process. Perhaps the UK was appointed to the board because it can be counted on to tow the US line.

‘The UK’s success comes as US candidate Doreen Bogdan-Martin was elected on Thursday as the first female Secretary General of the ITU, defeating Russia’s Rashid Ismailov,’ concludes the UK government press release. ‘The result was welcomed by the UK as a significant win for the efforts of western democracies to block attempts by authoritarian regimes to put greater government controls on the internet.’

 

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  • ITU Telecom World


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