AP

US candidate to lead UN telecoms agency after US-Russia race

Sep 29, 2022, 2:25 AM | Updated: Sep 30, 2022, 10:20 am

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Doreen Bogdan-Martin of the United States was elected Thursday to head the U.N.’s telecommunications agency, winning a U.S.-Russia face-off for the leadership of a global agency that sets guideposts for radio, internet, satellite and television communications.

Envoys from the 193 member states of the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union selected Bogdan-Martin over lone rival Rashid Ismailov of Russia, ending a contest that was largely overshadowed by geopolitics in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Members of the agency’s policy-making body meeting in Romania’s capital voted 139-25 with a number of abstentions in favor of naming the first woman as ITU secretary-general and the first American to hold the post since the 1960s.

Bogdan-Martin, who will begin her four-year term as ITU secretary-general on Jan. 1, is a 29-year ITU veteran and the current director of its telecommunication development bureau. Her career began in the U.S. Commerce Department.

Speaking in the plenary hall in Bucharest after her election, Bogdan-Martin described the leadership position as “an immensely important position” and said it will be an “honor for me and my country” to lead the organization.

“I hope this day will be an inspiration for other women to follow,” she said. “We need to deliver affordable, trusted, and meaningful connectivity to all. Universal connectivity has been a dream for far too many years — let’s unite and make it real.”

Ismailov, 57, is a former deputy telecommunications minister in Russia and a former executive in telecom companies such as Eriksson, Nokia and Huawei. Before Thursday’s vote, both candidates touted expanding connectivity to the internet and the benefits of information and communication technology, or ICT, to roughly half the world that still has no access.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, alluding to the Biden administration’s support for Bodgan-Martin, hailed a broad international endorsement of her vision for “universal connectivity, digital empowerment, and leadership at the ITU that is innovative, collaborative, and inclusive.”

“We have made clear since the earliest days of the administration that American leadership in multilateral venues, including the United Nations, is crucial to ensuring the international community is best positioned to address our shared challenges,” Blinken said.

David Gross, a former State Department official now with the Wiley law firm in Washington, said Bodgan-Martin’s margin of victory showed much of the world rejects “the Russian approach regarding government ‘top-down’ control of technology” and said her challenges would now include finding “common ground among competing approaches” and “creative ways to connect the unconnected.”

The ITU, whose history dates to 1865, is among the oldest U.N. specialized agencies and predates the United Nations itself by 80 years. The agency has its roots among countries that coordinated over the development of the telegraph, a forebear of the high-tech telecommunications of today.

The agency’s main tasks now are setting out a “digital transformation” for the 21st century — as outgoing Secretary-General Houlin Zhao put it — and setting out standards for telecommunications and regulating the development of technologies like 5G networks.

U.S. officials were eager to recapture the post amid news reports and allegations from experts suggesting that Zhao, a former government official in China, was too cozy with Beijing and promotional of Chinese interests and technology standards during his two terms as ITU chief.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, which has put Moscow on the diplomatic defensive, led some countries to think twice about handing a top U.N. post to a former member of Russian government. Ismailov has alluded to the pressure Russia has faced — including in Geneva diplomatic circles that are home to many U.N. institutions like the ITU.

Also weighing over Ismailov’s bid were concerns that Russia’s government has encouraged at worst — or turned a blind eye to, at best – the use of the Internet and other telecommunications networks to disrupt activities of foreign companies, governments and civilians, if not spy on or monitor people at home.

The United States also has come in for sharp criticism – notably from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia to escape U.S. justice – over its own surveillance and spying on civilians and government officials.

___

Jamey Keaten reported from Geneva.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

2 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

3 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

5 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

6 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

6 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

US candidate to lead UN telecoms agency after US-Russia race