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International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ITU and related information.

Context: World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2020 was observed on 17 May with the theme “Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”


It has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.

About International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

It is an agency of the United Nations (UN) whose purpose is to coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world.

Originally founded in 1865, as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU is the oldest existing international organization.

Headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ITU consists of three sectors:

Radiocommunication (ITU-R) — ensures optimal, fair and rational use of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum.

Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T) — formulates recommendations for standardizing telecommunication operations worldwide.

Telecommunication Development (ITU-D) — assists countries in developing and maintaining internal communication operations.


There are 193 Member States of the ITU, including all UN member states except the Republic of Palau, plus the Vatican City.

Membership of ITU is open to only UN members, which may join the Union as Member States, as well as to private organizations like carriers, equipment manufacturers, funding bodies, research and development organizations and international and regional telecommunication organizations, which may join ITU as non-voting Sector Members.


  • The ITU sets and publishes regulations and standards relevant to electronic communication and broadcasting technologies of all kinds including radio, television, satellite, telephone and the Internet.
  • The organization conducts working parties, study groups and meetings to address current and future issues and to resolve disputes. The ITU organizes and holds an exhibition and forum known as the Global TELECOM every four years.
  • Another important aspect of the ITU’s mandate is helping emerging countries to establish and develop telecommunication systems of their own.
  • Although the recommendations of the ITU are non-binding, most countries adhere to them in the interest of maintaining an effective international electronic communication environment.

India and the ITU:

India has been an active member of the ITU since 1869 and has been a regular member of the ITU Council since 1952. In November 2018, India was elected as a Member of the ITU Council for another 4-year term (2019-2022).


Prelims Link:

  1. Who can be a member of ITU?
  2. What is ITU Council?
  3. International Telegraph Convention.
  4. Can private organisations be a part of ITU?
  5. Objectives of ITU.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of ITU.

Sources: pib.