The Digital Revolution
The digital revolution, fired by the engines of Information and Communication Technologies, has fundamentally changed the way people think, behave, communicate, work and earn their livelihood. It has forged new ways to create knowledge, educate people and disseminate information. It has restructured the way the world conducts economic and business practices, runs governments and engages politically. It has provided for the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid and healthcare, and a new vision for environmental protection. It has even created new avenues for entertainment and leisure. As access to information and knowledge is a prerequisite to achieving the Millennium Development Goals – or MDGs -, it has the capacity to improve living standards for millions of people around the world. Moreover, better communication between peoples helps resolve conflicts and attain world peace.
The Digital Divide
Paradoxically, while the digital revolution has extended the frontiers of the global village, the vast majority of the world remains unhooked from this unfolding phenomenon. With the ever-widening gulf between knowledge and ignorance, the development gap between the rich and the poor among and within countries has also increased. It has therefore become imperative for the world to bridge this digital divide and place the MDGs on the ICT-accelerated speedway to achievement.
World Summit - The Need for a Global Discussion
Recognizing that this new dynamic requires global discussion, the International Telecommunication Union, following a proposal by the Government of Tunisia, resolved at its Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis in 1998
to hold a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and place it on the agenda of the United Nations.
In 2001, the ITU Council decided to hold the Summit in two phases, the first from 10 to 12 December 2003, in Geneva, and the second from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis. This was endorsed by the UN General Assembly
56/183) while according the lead role to ITU in cooperation with other interested organizations and partners. It further recommended that preparations for the Summit take place through an open-ended intergovernmental Preparatory Committee – or PrepCom – that would define the agenda of the Summit, decide on the modalities of the participation of other stakeholders, and finalize both the draft Declaration of Principles and the draft Plan of Action.