UNITED NATIONS Press Release 17 February 2003 GENEVA, 17 February (ITU) -- The second Preparatory Committee meeting for the World Summit on the Information Society, scheduled for Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003, and Tunisia in 2005, opened with an appeal for all of the stakeholders to work quickly and constructively to develop the declaration of principles and first draft of the plan of action that will ensure the benefits and rights of the information society are extended to all of humanity. Freedom to receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers is enshrined as a fundamental right in article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), which are increasingly important to ensure this right, are neither freely nor equitably distributed. Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency organizing the Summit, said that the meeting was "where the substance of the World Summit must be formed, and it is where we, the representatives of a hugely diverse parts of humanity, have the responsibility to craft our inputs into a coherent whole". The United Nations Millennium Declaration acknowledges that ICTs can make the world a better place, by helping to alleviate poverty, improving the delivery of education and health-care services, and making government more accessible and accountable to the people. "In the Goals of the Millennium Declaration, humanity has a united vision of what we wish to achieve in the next decade. Information and communication technologies are tools that will help us achieve that vision, and the World Summit on the Information Society will provide the direction", Mr. Utsumi said. Mr. Utsumi implored delegates to spend the two weeks of the preparatory meeting developing a draft of a text of the declaration and action plan "that will help to attract the attention of the world's leaders and persuade them to lend their support to the Summit. It must be compelling and provocative, and it must capture our hopes and aspirations and those of the societies of which we are all part -- as well as addressing our fears and concerns". World of Information Society Stakeholders The dawning of the information society is having an impact on every citizen of the world; therefore, in order to ensure the widest possible input to the Declaration of Principles and Action Plan for the World Summit, regional meetings have been held in Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Western Asia, as well as in the subregions. Numerous contributions from governments and United Nations bodies, including the ITU, have also been prepared. The President of the Preparatory Committee, Adama Samassékou, remarked that "the work must be done in such a way as to be inclusive and that participations of all stakeholders -- government, private sector, civil society and intergovernmental organizations -- be taken into account". The result has been more than 100 contributions to the preparatory process thus far. "These contributions provide a point of departure for a new era in which the information society becomes a society of shared knowledge, and where its guidelines will result in greater human communication and global solidarity". Moritz Leuenberger, Federal Councillor of Switzerland, reinforced that message saying a further need was to widen as much as possible the palette of the issues at hand, to include "the contents of the information society, that is, its cultural and political dimension". "Communication" comes from "community", "and it is the community that is the basis to build peace and permits the dialogue among cultures. And this dialogue among cultures is the alternative to war", Mr. Leuenberger said. "Let us develop communication for peace." (For a complete list of the stakeholder contributions, see itu.int/wsis/preparatory/prepcom/.) Andrey V. Pirogov (Russian Federation) was elected Rapporteur. Bahrain, on behalf of the Asian Group, announced that a meeting of the Group would be held to nominate the President of Subcommittee 2 - the subcommittee charged with drafting the Summit Declaration and Plan of Action. The meeting also accredited the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and the business sector, on the basis of the recommendation of the Summit Secretariat (listed in document WSIS/PC-2/9, Annexes). Among those accredited are the organizations in consultative status with Economic and Social Councilwho have indicated an interest in participating in the meeting. A total of 1,632 participants have registered to participate in the second Preparatory Committee meeting, of which 714 are from governments, 52 from business and the private sector, and 673 from NGOs and civil society. Visionary Afternoon The afternoon session, devoted to the "Visionaries Panel", began with a reminder by Secretary-General Utsumi that a solid house must rest on a strong foundation and that in order for delegates to make real their hopes for an information society, the Declaration and Action Plan of the Summit must rest on a strong vision of the future. The panel moderator, Maria Livanos Cattaui, who is the Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, asked five leading opinion-makers to share their vision of the information society, in order to assist the delegates in creating an information society that will benefit all of humanity. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, a leading architect of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) initiative and the Honorary Chairman of the e-Africa Commission, said that "we need digital solidarity, perhaps founded on a digital charter, by which economies higher up on the ICT development scale would be bound to help those at the lower end. This would be based on a digital snake, with a gradually narrowing gap between the extremes". President Ion Iliescu of Romania, who hosted the European regional preparatory conference for the Summit in Bucharest, said that "the information society increases our dependency on technology: that is why establishing a suitable framework will be of key importance". John P. Barlow, a commentator on the Internet, said that the Web was creating a "civilization of the mind", adding that "the Internet should play a humanizing role, creating a more democratic and equitable society on a worldwide scale". Professor Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School, one of the leading commentators on the legal and policy aspects of communication technologies and cyberspace, said with his eyes shut he could see the great potential of the Internet to generate freedom of information and to disseminate the great stores of human cultural and intellectual heritage. "With my eyes open, I see the reality of recent years, when curbs to the intellectual freedom of the Internet are restricting access to that heritage", he said, adding that "The potential of the information society will only be preserved in a free culture, not a feudal one." Author and politician Jacques Attali, currently the head of PlaNet Finance, saw four main challenges in creating an information society. "First, an adequate legal framework needs to be put in place, and the border between public and private goods defined. Second, a financial system is needed to ensure that the poorest countries benefit by receiving and by producing information. Third, classification of information is needed by a responsible group, to create a hierarchy that will avoid the Internet becoming a waste paper bin. Four, ICTs need to be reduced to reduce poverty." For further information, please see the Summit's Web site, www.itu.int/wsis. ========== HURIDOCS-Tech listserv ========== Send mail intended for the list to <email@example.com>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/huridocs-tech/markup/maillist.php To subscribe to the list, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>, with the following text in the message: subscribe huridocs-tech To unsubscribe from the list, send a message to <email@example.com>, with the following text in the message: unsubscribe huridocs-tech If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
[Reply to this message] [Start a new topic] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index] [Subject Index] [List Home Page] [HREA Home Page]