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An American, the first woman to head the UN telecommunications agency

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American Doreen Bogdan-Martin on Thursday became the first woman to head the UN telecommunications agency, a little-known organization with a crucial role in modern communications, widely outvoting her Russian rival.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken celebrated his “historic election” at the head of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a body founded in 1865 crucial to modern communications, from satellites to 5G.

In a statement, he also stressed that US leadership “in multilateral forums, including the United Nations, is crucial to ensuring that the international community is in the best position to address our common challenges.”

With 139 votes in his favor against 25 for the former Russian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications Rashid Ismailov, Bogdan-Martin will take over next year from the Chinese Houlin Zhao at the head of the organization, which has been part of the UN since 1949.

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“Today, we have made history. After 157 years, we have broken the glass ceiling”Bogdan-Martin said before the representatives of the Member States.

This organization was created to manage the international telegraph networks, but it expanded its field of action as technology such as the telephone, radio, television, satellites, cell phones and the Internet evolved.

Today it plays a fundamental role in information and communication technologies, and sets the global standards that control both mobile phones and television or the Internet.

unit message

Until now responsible for the development of the organization, Bogdan-Martin wanted to send a message of unity.

“Our success depends on the union of our efforts. The ITU is a union, a union of its members (…). And together we are united, we are united in our hope and in our conviction that we can work collectively to make a better connected world.” assured.

This fight between Washington and Moscow to lead the organization was also proof of Russia’s prestige in the United Nations, seven months after its brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“This election is an absolute priority for the United States”US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had declared when presenting Bogdan-Martin’s candidacy.

Moscow lost friends at the United Nations over the neighboring country’s invasion, but ITU member states blocked an attempt to bar Russian candidates from running.

“Russia is facing unprecedented pressure today,” Russian Deputy Minister for Digital Development Bella Cherkesova had declared.

The agency plans to publish a report on the damage caused to telecommunications infrastructure in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24 last.

“Universal access by 2030″

Leadership positions in the UN are always an exercise in balancing powers.

China’s Houlin Zhao’s second four-year term as ITU Secretary-General expires at the end of December.

The organization brings together 193 member states, as well as some 900 companies, universities and international and regional organisations.

Bogdan-Martin, who speaks fluent Spanish and French, joined their development office in 1993 and became its director in 2019.

Its priorities are connecting more of the world to the internet and advancing broadband access.

“We have to provide universal connectivity underpinned by resilient and secure networks for the 3.7 billion people who are not yet connected,” defend.

“Being at the forefront to understand the transformative effects of technologies such as 5G and 6G, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning”he adds.

According to US President Joe Biden, Bogdan-Martin has “the integrity, experience and vision to transform the digital landscape.”

In his program, Bogdan-Martin emphasizes having an “ITU that offers universal access to the internet, that is secure, inclusive and at a reasonable cost, by 2030″

Source: Gestion

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