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World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.

World Information Society Day

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.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The updated Resolution 68 invites Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually by organizing appropriate national programmes with a view to:

  • stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council
  • debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society
  • formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of its membership

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 (ITU). This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which has been celebrated annually since 1969.

2019 Theme: Bridging the standardization gap

Setting standards is a fundamental pillar of ITU’s mission as the specialized agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies (ICTs). ITU standards help accelerate ICTs for all Sustainable Development Goals. The 2019 theme will allow ITU Membership and other key stakeholders to focus on the opportunities for:

participation of developing countries in ITU’s standards-making process;

empowering local experts in the standardization process at the national, regional and international levels; and promoting the implementation of international standards in developing countries.

ITU Secretary-General’s Message Bridging the Standardization Gap

On 17 May, we will be celebrating the 50th World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

This year, we will focus on “bridging the standardization gap.”

Setting standards is a fundamental pillar of ITU’s mission as the specialized agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies.

You want to connect to the internet, enjoy a sports event on TV, listen to radio in your car or watch a video on your smartphone? ITU standards make it possible.

The upcoming 5G standards, especially if coupled with artificial intelligence, will support a new range of applications which we will soon take for granted: from self-driving cars to safer and smart cities.

ITU standards ensure interoperability, open up global markets and spur innovation and growth. They are good for developed and developing countries.

They help accelerate ICTs for all Sustainable Development Goals.

I call upon ITU Member States, industry members, small and big companies and academia, together with UN sister agencies, our partners and all stakeholders, to support ITU’s “Bridging the Standardization gap” programme and prosperity and well-being for all.