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Former ITU Secretary General Richard Butler passes away

The ITU homepage announces the death of former Secretary General (1983-89) Richard Butler.

Dick Butler had many achievements to his credit, the most well known being the successful outcome of the crucial and difficult World Administrative Telephone and Telegraph Conference (WATTC) held in Melbourne in 1988 at which new rules governing the conduct of international telecommunications services were approved in a fraught environment. There is value in looking at that achievement today, especially in light of the upcoming WCIT in Dubai, that will seek to revisit the International Telecommunication Regulations adopted in Melbourne during Dick Butler’s watch.

What we’d like to emphasize is that Dick Butler was a forward looking man. Having been in the ITU for over two decades prior to becoming Secretary General, he could have acted to reinforce the existing dysfunctional status quo. But he did not. His leadership was marked by progressive actions such as the Melbourne Convention and the commissioning in 1989 of a report by Poul Hansen and William Melody that was critical to making the ITU less hostile, if not actually supportive, of the liberalization of telecom industries.

We hope that the current Secretary General will also adopt a forward looking stance that embraces the potential of the Internet as we revisit Dick Butler’s work in Melbourne in 1988.


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