International Telecommunication Union
Telecommunication Union was founded in Paris on 17 May 1865 and is therefore
the eldest organization in the UN system. The original name International
Telegraph Union was changed in 1932 (effective from 1 January 1934) to properly reflect the full scope of the Unionís responsibilities, which by this time covered all forms of wireline
and wireless communication. In 1948 the ITU Headquarters were transferred from Bern to Geneva.
The reason for twenty European states to come together
to discuss international cooperation was the growing popularity of the telegraph.
Unfortunately telegraph lines did not cross national borders, so every message
had to be written out and handed over so it could be sent through the next
network. Since 1865 the ITU has set more than 3.000 standards for all means of
communication, radio, telephone, fax, internet. Even the picture format JPEG is
based on an ITU standard.
Members of the ITU can be independent states (at the
moment 190 states) and private companies in the field of communications, the
Sector Members (over 600). The highest authority in the organization is the
Plenipotentiary Conference which is held every five to seven years.
Two important committees were formed to deal with
specific issues. The international Telephone and Telegraph Consultative
Committee (CCITT) was formed in 1947 by the merger of the separate committees
for telephone and telegraph (CCIF, 1924 and CCIT, 1927). In
1927 the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) was created.
ITU organises special fairs in the field of
telecommunications. Since 1971 Telecom is held every four years, first in Geneva, in 2006
in Hong Kong. In the periods
between two World Telecom events, regional Telecoms are held in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the
Middle East and the Arab States.
On the upcoming occasion of the 50th anniversary of
the Union in 1915, the
conference in Lisbon in 1908
decided that a monument should be erected. The monument should be placed in Paris, but the
French delegation suggested that Bern was a
better place. The following competition was won by the Italian sculptor
Giuseppe Romagnoli (1872-1966) from Bologna. It
shows a central figure depicting World Telegraphy surrounded by figures
representing among others family, labour, suffering, fertility. The
commemorative plaque on the back with the twenty founder states was covered
with a new plaque in 1965 with all members by that date. During 2001-2003 the
monument was restored by the Swiss Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics
for around CHF 1.100.000. The stone plates with the texts could not be saved
and were replaced by exact copies.
Since 1958 special stamps are issued by Switzerland for use
on mail from the ITU Headquarters in Geneva. These
stamps can be found in the stamp catalogue.
The website of the International Telecommunication Union.
Flag of the ITU in Flags of the
Article on the ITU in Wikipedia.
The history of the ITU monument in Bern and the
sculptor from g26.ch, platform for art, culture and society
(in German and Italian).
ITU 125th anniversary
Plenipotentiary Conference, Nairobi
Radio Consultative Committee
World Summit on the
of the Telephone Centenary
Stamp catalogue -
Belgium††††††††††††††††††††† 17 April
Up - Home
revised: 5 October 2008