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US versus Russia in competition for next ITU head

Doreen Bogdan-Martin.jpg

An American and a Russian will be competing against each other next month for the role of the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency that is almost, but not quite, a global regulator.

The two are the only candidates for a four-year job to replace Houlin Zhao of China, whose second four-year term ends in December.

The American, proposed by the permanent mission of the US to the UN, is Doreen Bogdan-Martin (pictured), who has run the ITU’s telecommunication development bureau since 2018. She began her career in 1989 at the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Bogdan-Martin is also executive director of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.

Her challenger is Rashid Ismailov, former deputy minister at Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, and was later president of VimpelCom, the Russian arm of Veon. He has also worked for Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei.

The decision will be taken by the ITU calls a Plenipotentiary Conference, held every four years. The next once convenes in Bucharest on 26 September and is due to run until 14 October – almost three full weeks.

The ITU, which has 193 member states, is the oldest of all UN agencies, dating back to 1865 when it was the International Telegraph Union. The agency has five senior posts to fill at this conference.

After the members elect the secretary-general, they vote for deputy secretary-general; and then the election of the directors of the ITU’s three departments, the Radiocommunication Bureau, the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau and Telecommunication Development Bureau. The new management team of five takes up their roles on 1 January 2023.

Delegates also elect members of the Radio Regulations Board.

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