Category

Specialized Agencies

HQ location

Geneva

Date established

Founded 1865

Resolution

GA Resolution 124(II)

Joined CEB

1 January 1949

Leadership

Secretary-General

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was founded in 1865 in Paris as the International Telegraph Union.  The 1932 Madrid Plenipotentiary Conference decided the current name, which came into force on 1 January 1934. The ITU is an inter-governmental organization that brings together governments and industry to coordinate the establishment and operation of global telecommunication networks and services.

The purposes of the Union are to:

  • Extend international cooperation among Member States for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications of all kinds.
  • Promote and enhance participation of entities and organisations in the activities of the Union and foster cooperation and partnership between them and Member States.
  • Promote and offer technical assistance to developing countries in telecommunications.
  • Promote the development of technical facilities and their most efficient operation.
  • Promote the extension of the benefits of information and communication technologies to all the world's inhabitants.
  • Promote the use of telecommunication services with the aim of facilitating peaceful relations.
  • Harmonise the actions of Member States and promote cooperation and partnership between Member States and sector members.
  • Promote internationally a broader approach to telecommunications issues by cooperating with other inter-governmental organisations and those non-governmental organisations concerned with telecommunications.

The Union pursues its objectives by means of :

  • Promoting international cooperation in the delivery of technical assistance to developing countries.
  • Policy papers and reports designed to provide a focus on topics of current interest the regulators, policy-makers and the broader ITU membership.
  • Global coordination of radio frequency spectrum usage and orbital satellite positions, and the adoption of international regulations and treaties governing all uses of the frequency spectrum within which countries frame their national legislation.
  • Adopting technical standards that foster global inter-connectivity and inter-operability with as low rates as possible, consistent with efficient service.
  • Policy advice and technical assistance to developing countries.
  • Measures for ensuring the safety of life, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters
  • Promoting preferential and favourable lines of credit for the development of social projects aimed at extending telecommunication services to the most isolated areas.

The Union's current areas of focus are :

  • Developing infrastructure for information and communication technologies (ICTs) to connect under-served and remote communities.
  • Building cybersecurity and confidence in online transactions with a focus on protecting children online.
  • Promoting ICTs as an aid to combat climate change
  • Strengthening emergency telecommunications
  • Facilitating implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.

The Union comprises:

  • Plenipotentiary Conference
  • Council
  • World conferences on international telecommunications
  • General Secretariat.

The Constitution provides that a Plenipotentiary Conference, the supreme organ of the Union, be convened every four years. Plenipotentiary Conferences are composed of delegations from the Union's Member States.  They adopt the underlying policies of the organisation, determine its direction and activities, and make decisions relating to its structure through a treaty called the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union.

The Council acts on behalf of the Plenipotentiary Conference.  It comprises up to 25 percent of Member States, elected by the Plenipotentiary Conference with due regard to the equitable distribution of Council seats among the five world regions (Americas, nine seats; Western Europe, eight seats; Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, five seats; Africa, 13 seats; Asia and Australasia, 13 seats).  The current Council comprises 48 Member States and meets annually.

The role of the Council is to consider, in the interval between Plenipotentiary Conferences, broad telecommunication policy issues and ensure that the Union's activities, policies and strategies respond fully to the rapidly changing telecommunication environment. The Council is also responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the Union, coordinating work programmes, approving budgets and controlling finances.

The ITU has three main sectors, encompassing its main conferences:

  • The Radiocommunication Sector comprises the world and regional radio communication conferences, radio communication assemblies, study groups, the Radio Regulations Board, the Radiocommunication Advisory Group and the Radiocommunication Bureau.
  • The Telecommunication Standardization Sector comprises the world telecommunication standardisation assemblies, study groups, the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group and the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.
  • The Telecommunication Development Sector comprises the world and regional telecommunication development conferences, study groups, the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group and the Telecommunication Development Bureau.

The ITU's General Secretariat is headed by the organisation's Secretary-General, assisted by a deputy secretary-general and three elected directors.

 

ITU membership consists of 192 Member States and around 700 sector members.  Sector members are public and private companies and organisations with an interest in telecommunications that are entitled to participate, with specific rights and obligations, in the work of one or more ITU sectors. 

One hundred associates also take part in some ITU work under special arrangements with the sectors.  It is up to each sector to admit associates as partners in their activities.  Current ITU Council members were elected at the Plenipotentiary Conference in October 2010.  The next elections will be held in 2014.

The Americas
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Suriname
Trinidad and Tobago
USA
Uruguay
Venezuela

Western Europe
Andorra
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatia
Cyprus
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Holy See
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
San Marino
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
UK

Eastern Europe and Northern Asia
Albania
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Bulgaria
Czech Republic
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Montenegro
Poland
Republic of Moldova
Romania
Russian Federation
Serbia
Slovakia
Tajikistan
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
Uzbekistan

Africa
Algeria
Angola
Benin
Bostwana
Burkin Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Congo
Cote d'Ivoire
DR Congo
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libyan AJ
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
Sudan
Swaziland
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
UR of Tanzania
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Asia and Australasia
Afghanistan
Australia
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia
China
DPRK
Fiji
India
Indonesia
Iran
Israel
Japan
Jordan
Kiribati
Lao PDR
Lebanon
Malaysia
Maldives
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
Mongolia
Myanmar
Nauru
Nepal
New Zealand
Oman
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Philippines
Qatar
ROK
Samoa
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
Solomon Islands
Sri Lanka
Syria
Thailand
Timor-Leste
Tonga
Tuvalu
UAE
Vanuatu
Viet Nam
Yemen

The ITU Telecom World was held from 24 to 27 October 2011 in Geneva; ITU World Radiocommunication Conference from 23 January to 17 February 2012 in Geneva; and World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) from 6 to 15 November 2012 in Geneva.  The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was held on17 May 2012.

Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 20
Switzerland
Telephone: ( +41 22) 730 5111
Fax: ( +41 22) 733 7256
Email: itumail@itu.int