Promoting the global information commons:

A statement by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to WSIS Tunis PrepCom2


Mme La Presidente, Delegates, I thank you for the opportunity to be heard on behalf of global civil society on the subject of financing. I speak on behalf of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and its member associations and libraries throughout the world.

We speak not just for libraries and information services but for the two and a half billion people who use them, the people of civil society. For their sake, we ask governments and the global community to find ways of resourcing the program of action with a sense of urgency and in partnership with all stakeholders. The people of the world need vigorous action now, not in a decade, because a child entering school today will likely have finished in a decade. In a world suffering from HIV/AIDS, conflict, natural calamities, gender discrimination and other causes of marginalisation, we need urgent and concerted action if we are to promote a truly inclusive and mutually beneficial global information society.

Libraries, archives and information services provide access points to the Internet for members of communities and also the support and skills development which are essential to effective use. They not only maintain our cultural heritage but also the records which are essential to effective government and to continuing economic development. Through such means they build capacity in communities and nations and help to redress disadvantage.

IFLA advocates a global information commons through which all people will be enabled to seek and impart information. Its realisation requires, at a minimum, ubiquitous access to sufficient affordable bandwidth, up to date and affordable ICTs, unrestricted multilingual access to information and skills development programs to enable all to both access information and disseminate their own while respecting the fundamental right of human beings to both access and express information without restriction. .

This requires investment by governments, international agencies and business entities through the harnessing of all available infrastructure and resources in partnership with civil society. A modest investment in the worldwide network of libraries and information services would build on the existing foundation to:

provide an extensive web of internet access points, each supported with advice and training

offer relevant information in appropriate formats, languages and

develop literacies and capacity

support health and education

advance the position of women

provide opportunity and choice for children and the benefits of lifelong learning

promote innovation and economic development

ensure the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage and diversity

foster respect and understanding between peoples.

To that end, we propose a new paragraph on financing to appear after paragraph 24 of the operational part of the final document:

"Investment should be applied in partnership with all stakeholders including grassroots communities and civil society and should build on existing infrastructure to create sustainable mechanisms to enable major progress against the goals as quickly as possible."

We also have a specific recommendation for an additional clause in paragraph 6 on the achievement of targets and objectives. We suggest the addition of:

"enhancing capacity and sustainable access to content by improving connectivity and otherwise investing in existing infrastructure including the global network of libraries, archives and information services".

Finally, we invite you to our pre-Summit conference in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt, on 10 and 11 November 2005 at which we will show how libraries and information services around the world are realising the global information society for all.

IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, thanks you Mme La Presidente and Delegates for the opportunity to be heard and reminds Delegates of the urgency of applying the financial and human resources of the world to achieving a truly inclusive global information society.


Alex Byrne



Peter Johan Lor

Secretary General

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

PO Box 95312, 2509 CH

The Hague, Netherlands

Tel +31 70 31 40 884

Fax +31 70 38 34 827


22 February 2005