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The United Nations Secretary-General Message on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

by May 17, 2011 Official News, United Nations

Islamabad: The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. 17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/252) in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.

The UN Secretary-General issued the following message on this Day:

“Information and communication technologies have transformed the global landscape. They power the world economy and have become the great enablers of modern society, helping people communicate across distances and cultural divides, facilitating trade and commerce, and providing access to critical resources such as healthcare and education.

Recent events around the world, in particular in North Africa and the Middle East, have also highlighted the catalytic role that mobile phones and social media can play in galvanizing public opinion against repression. And in the aftermath of natural disasters that have struck with greater frequency and force, we have seen how these technologies are a vital part of the aid response, establishing lines of communication that can save lives, reunite families and help emergency relief reach people in need.

The theme of this year’s observance, “Better life in rural communities with ICTs”, highlights the need to harness the full potential of ICTs for the benefit of the world’s rural population. Seventy per cent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas. Their lives can be transformed as we connect village schools to information and knowledge on the Internet, bring telemedicine to far-flung rural health centres, provide accurate weather information to farmers and fishermen, and supply up-to-date market information to producers. The International Telecommunication Union and its partners continue striving to connect the world. I welcome these efforts, especially the drive to bring broadband to every community. Broadband telecommunications will make it possible to drive content to the remotest rural districts.

As we bridge the digital divide, we narrow the chasm that separates those with and without access to information and knowledge, thereby broadening opportunities for a better life. Greater access means earlier achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It means less poverty and hunger, and more environmental sustainability. And it translates into greater equality and empowerment for women and the underprivileged.

On this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, let us resolve to connect rural communities and the entire world to the digital revolution as a means of achieving our development goals and fostering peace and prosperity for all.”

For more information, contact:
Ms. Ishrat Rizvi,
National Information Officer,
UN Information Centre, Islamabad
Cell: +92300 8553 790
Fax: +9251 227 1856