Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Reports from the WSIS Prepcom 17-25 September

These special reports by Sally Burch, ALAI, Ecuador about PrepCom 2 were supported by a CRIS/EED grant

The full report can be found by clicking on the links below.

Civil society reorganizing around content - February 22 2005

At the second Preparatory Committee (or Prepcom) of phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society, taking place in Geneva February 17-25, the different civil society thematic caucuses are developing content in response to a new phase of governmental negotiations on the Summit documents.

The documents to come out of the official process in Tunis next November include, among others, a political umbrella statement (known as the political chapeau), and an operational chapter, intended to lay out the mechanisms and organizational responsibilities, to ensure follow-up and implementation of the agreements from the 1st phase of WSIS, concluded in Geneva at the end of 2003. Two issues will receive special attention: financing mechanisms for ICT and development, and ICT global governance, on both of which, multistakeholder working groups were set up last year.

As the first Prepcom of this phase of the Summit, held last June in Tunis, was largely taken up by the polemics around the human rights situation in the host country, -a theme that is still very present- most of civil society has only now, during these last few days in Geneva, begun to reorganize around content issues, through the dozen or more thematic caucuses that have reconvened here.

http://www.crisinfo.org/content/view/full/736 (en Espanol)

WSIS - Cultural diversity and education - February 23 2005

Cultural diversity, as a key issue to incorporate in public policy relating to information and communication, has been present in the proposals civil society has presented to the WSIS. It has had a scant echo, nonetheless, in the official documents.

The cultural diversity caucus, in Geneva this week, has identified as its main priorities: the importance of governments committing to protecting (in addition to fostering and respecting) cultural diversity; this has met with resistance, however, from official delegations such as the US and Japan, that are reluctant to admit any reference to protection, which could imply an obligation.

Secondly, the caucus underlines that access and active contribution to knowledge is a fundamental human right. "Active contribution" to information and knowledge implies a creative and participatory process. The caucus therefore proposes that references to people's "access to infrastructure" should be complemented -or better, preceded- by references to information and knowledge.

Cultural diversity has been seen as all the more important to defend in the Summit context, since the international Convention on Cultural Diversity, being promoted by UNESCO, no longer seems to be on schedule for approval before the November Summit in Tunis, following the stand-off in negotiations at the Convention preparatory meeting held in Paris in early February.


WSIS: Financial Mechanisms - no commitments - February 24 2005

At this second Preparatory Committee of phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society, the central issue for debate among governments is that of Financial Mechanisms for ICT Development, which the organizers are hoping to bring to a conclusion tonight. There is little indication that much new will come out of the document on this issue. Governments seem set to accept a compromise agreement worked out between Ghana and the European Union, that essentially states that they "welcome" the voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund established in Geneva at the first WSIS (December 2003), that was set up, not by states, but by local governments, on the initiative of Geneva and Lyon.


WSIS: Internet governance - issues of democracy and human rights - February 25 2005

One of the more unexpected documents circulating at the WSIS Preparatory Committee in Geneva this week, is a jig-saw puzzle. The puzzle is a cartoon graphic of Internet governance, depicted as a building under construction.

The ground floor is Infrastructure and Standards, and above that the successive floors contain Jurisdiction, Development, Economic, and Socio-cultural building blocks.

Unravelling the "puzzle" of what Internet governance is or might be, what it should and should not address, who should make decisions and who should implement them, is one of the central issues of this second phase of the WSIS process. For civil society organizations, the issue has fundamental human rights implications and must be addressed within a framework that incorporates human rights, development and democracy as basic principles.