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150th Anniv. of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

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About 150th Anniv. of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is United Nation's specialised agency in charge for information and telecommunication technologies (ICT), with the seat in Geneva (Switzerland). As the world's roof organisation in the field, ITU is in charge for the assignment of radiofrequency spectrum and satellite orbits on global level, standardisation in the field of communication networks and technologies and entire development of ICT in the world. Today ITU numbers 193 member states and the Republic of Croatia is a full member since June 1992. Apart from states, the membership of the organisation consists also of more than 700 institutions, from regulatory bodies in the field of ICT to the representatives of private sector (operators, producers of ICT equipment) and university institutions from the whole world, which makes ITU a unique agency within UN. ITU is also active through 12 regional and area offices throughout the world.

ITU was founded in Paris on 17 May 1865, by signing of the first International Telegraph Convention entitled International Telegraph Union. Its present name ITU was given in 1934 and in 1947 it became UN's specialised agency. In 150 years of its existence ITU has actively followed all changes in communication's global development – from the first telegraph intended for personal use, over telephone, radio and television to satellite communications, internet, and smart mobile phones and other recent digital communication technologies – always consistently focused on connecting the whole world's population and protecting the fundamental right of each individual to communication.

The work of ITU develops within three main sectors, which organise their activities through conferences at international and regional level and meetings of their work bodies: Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) and Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D).

The ITU's top body is the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, which sits each fourth year with the participation of authorised representatives of all member states of ITU. Within range of the Conference is bringing key decisions important for future organisation, work and role of ITU. In the period between two Conferences the organisation is managed by the ITU Council composed of elected representatives of 48 member states, taking account on the even representation of all five world regions. The Plenipotentiary Conference elects the ITU head management for the period of 4 years – the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and the Directors of the three Bureaux of ITU. At last 19th Plenipotentiary Conference, held in 2014 in Busan (Republic of Korea), at which also Croatian delegation was present, unanimously elected for the new ITU Secretary-General was Houlin Zhao from China as the 11th Secretary-General in the history of ITU (until 1947 head managers of ITU were directors appointed by the Swiss government).

From the very beginning ITU was an institution organised on the principles of public-private partnership, recognising the importance of strategic cooperation and mutual understanding of the representatives of the state public sector and private sector, as well as of all stakeholders in the field of ICT. Therefore, the ITU’s role is –in the epoch of global information - a key role in the spirit of common purpose, which the Secretary-General Zhao expressed in following words: "Better telecommunications/ICT, better life for all". A working contribution to such efforts gives also Croatia from the very beginnings of its membership. And, one symbolic part of its contribution in the ITU's jubilee year is this Croatian postage stamp.

Krešo Antonović