Observers Call for e-Strategies, Sustainability and Audacity
Speakers from the business community, international organizations, media and
environmental groups launched the day’s discussions with food for thought on
what they see as essential elements to be reflected in the draft action plan.
Among other factors, the need for national e-strategies, or ICT
strategies, was stressed. This echoed similar comments already heard during
governmental working group discussions. E-strategies at the national level,
pointed out one speaker, can reflect and respect cultural diversity, while also
creating a framework for services and international cooperation to flourish.
If strategies are one side of the same ICT development coin, technologies are
on the other, was the next speaker’s point. Broadband holds the key to
always-on, affordable access, and can help achieve economies of scale to bring
down costs, argued a speaker from the International Telecommunications Satellite
Organization (ITSO). Calling for “audacity”, he stressed that “the most
needy people in the world are those in rural, remote, small, landlocked, island
and poverty-stricken places”.
When considering strategies and
technologies for sustainable development, the ecological pros and cons of ICTs
need to be taken into account, said a spokesperson on environmental issues. For
example, he said, the disposal of technological waste can be an environmental
hazard, while the benefits of teleconferencing and teleworking help cut down on
environmental pollution from cars and planes. Other international treaties such
as the Johannesburg Summit, Basel Convention and Kyoto Protocol deserve a
mention, he urged, as they encouraged governments to take responsible actions.
Working Group on Draft WSIS Documents Winds Up
The final meeting of the working group continued to discuss the working draft
action plan contained in Document DT/3. The document contains fewer inputs and
has had less time for consideration than the working draft declaration (document
DT/2), explained the chairperson. Nevertheless, most commentators saw the
document as a feasible working document as the basis of ongoing work on the
draft action plan.
Comments made at the group’s previous meeting were echoed again, with broad
agreement that the document should be concise and should contain concrete
proposals for action. Many delegates reiterated the need for benchmarks to be
clearly defined, and for the set timeframes to cater for the difficulties that
developing countries might face in meeting them. But there was a strong sense
that concrete achievements could be expected between 2003 and 2005, by the
second phase of WSIS.
In a spate of general points raised by delegates, the delicate questions of
balance of inputs, and of the delicate equilibrium needed between rights and
obligations, were raised. Many also reiterated that a “global culture of
cybersecurity” needed to be instituted with the help of a democratic,
multilateral, intergovernmental body to oversee Internet governance.
As it stands, the document does
not yet constitute a draft action plan, the chair clarified. “We have a lot of
work before us before PrepCom-3” she warned. Thanking the working group for
its discipline, she said: “Working with you, I had a few sleepless nights. But
you know, a mother who spends a lot of sleepless nights with a baby thinks it is
worth it because of the joy she gets. Likewise, it has been a real pleasure
working with you, thank you very much.”
Output from the Working Group consists of the working draft declaration and
action plan, together with two information documents containing synopses of
written and oral contributions and inputs received to date. The group
recommended to Subcommittee 2 that, following PrepCom-2, revised versions of
these documents would be distributed to administrations and posted on the WSIS
website within a three-week period.
Subcommittee 2 Wavers On Procedural Matters
The status of civil society,
business sector and NGO observers came into the firing line once more, in what
some delegates saw as a throwback to PrepCom-1. While there was strong consensus
among government representatives that the value of the inputs from the observer
groups was incalculable in meeting the goals of the Summit, the practicalities
proved harder to surmount. To follow the recommendations of the Working Group to
Subcommittee 2 in incorporating the inputs from observers in the revised working
documents might constitute a breach of the rules of procedure. The crux of the
question appeared to be whether inputs from observers, who do not have
negotiating rights, could be included in such a text on an equal footing with
“We are on the horns of a dilemma,” said one delegate. Recognizing the
strong input from civil society and private sector, he confirmed “an
information society which deprives the engine of that technology from having any
voice would render it largely meaningless”. On the other hand, the question
was raised of how to ensure that “the established norms of negotiation are not
Others feared that “the sense” of the work of the Summit in its aim to
inclusively take on board issues affecting all of society might be jeopardized
over a procedural issue. The challenge is “to re-read our practices within our
new and changing environment”, thought the President of PrepCom, Mr Samassékou.
Greater inclusiveness could only give rise to better ideas, others suggested.
As a lengthy debate ensued on whether to include observers’ inputs in a
single document, a separate document or as an annex, one delegate wondered,
“Are we drowning in a thimbleful of water?”
We are nowhere near anything binding or committal, she argued. Placing
the achievements of the PrepCom in a more optimistic perspective, it was
recalled how from nothing, two working documents have been produced.
The issue was temporarily resolved
with the insertion of square brackets in two paragraphs of the draft report of
Subcommittee 2 to plenary, pending further discussions.
This is the final edition of
PrepCom-2 Highlights. The final
Press Release will be distributed and posted as soon as possible.
The Highlights were produced by:
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