World Summit on the Information Society

WSIS E-FLASH N°21,  22 March 2005
  • High interest in the preparatory process of the Tunis phase of WSIS
    The second Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom-2) of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held from 17 to 25 February 2005 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The meeting was attended by 1’718 participants, which included 926 delegates representing 149 governments and the European Community. 150 participants represented 53 international organizations while 565 participants came from 208 civil society entities and 61 participants from 30 business entities. In addition to the formal meetings of PrepCom-2, eleven parallel events were organized by international organizations, civil society and the private sector highlighting their WSIS-related activities. 

  • Financial mechanisms outlined to meet the challenges of the Digital Divide
    The work of PrepCom-2 focused mainly on the issue of financial mechanisms to bridge the digital divide and meet the development challenges for ICT. PrepCom-2 had before it the Report of the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms presented by UNDP and the draft text prepared by the  Group of Friends of the Chair. Following intense negotiations, PrepCom-2 succeeded in reaching consensus on most sections of the text on financial mechanisms, including: 
    · Identification of areas where more attention to funding is needed; 
    · Prerequisites for equitable and universal accessibility to and better utilization of financial mechanisms; 
    · Providing affordable access to ICTs by reducing international Internet costs charged by backbone providers and broadening network access by supporting the creation and development of regional ICT backbones and Internet Exchange Points; 
    · Establishment of a voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund.

    Some parts of chapter two on financial mechanisms of the Tunis document, which did not find consensus, have remained in brackets and will be considered during PrepCom-3 in September.

  • PrepCom-2 welcomes the creation of a voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund
    PrepCom-2 recognized that financing ICT development is a huge undertaking that requires multiple mutually supportive solutions. It is in this context that Governments welcomed the voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF). Governments considered that the DSF represents an innovative financial mechanism of a voluntary nature open to interested stakeholders. It aims to transform the digital divide into digital opportunities by addressing specific and urgent needs at the local level and by seeking new voluntary sources of “solidarity” finance. The DSF will complement existing mechanisms for funding the Information Society, which should continue to be fully utilized to fund the growth of ICT infrastructure and services.

    The DSF was proposed by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal at the Geneva phase of WSIS and will be inaugurated in Geneva on 14 March 2005 by President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union. The Fund, managed by a foundation with headquarters in Geneva, will decide on the criteria for contributions and on the use of the funds.

  • Working Group on Internet Governance
    PrepCom-2 considered the interim report tabled by the Working Group on Internet Governance at the plenary meeting on 24 February 2005. The working group had been set up by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the request of the Geneva Summit to investigate and make proposals for appropriate action. The delegates recognized that the issue of Internet Governance involved a host of issues that went beyond assigning IP addresses and domain names and consensus emerged on the need to improve current international coordination arrangements for the Internet. At the same time, they agreed that the process should not undermine the stability and reliability of the Internet. 

    The final report of WGIG will be made available on 18 July 2005, following which Governments and other stakeholders will be invited to send their written comments by mid-August to the WSIS Executive Secretariat. These comments and drafting proposals will then be compiled in a document that will be presented to PrepCom-3 together with the final report of the WGIG.

  • Format of the Tunis Summit
    PrepCom-2 accepted a proposal for the Format of the Tunis Summit that combines the Geneva round tables with additional panel discussions. The objective of the panel discussions is to create a high profile, media-friendly platform for dynamic debate and discussion, while respecting UN Summit protocol. Based on the proposed format, the Summit will start with an organizational meeting, followed by the Opening Ceremony. The General debate will begin on the morning of Wednesday 16 November and will continue in six Plenary meetings until Friday afternoon. The Summit will hear Reports from multistakeholder events on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 November afternoon. Round tables will be organized in parallel to the General Debate to provide Heads of State or Government the opportunity to engage in an interactive discussion on the future of the Information Society with leaders from business and civil society organizations. The panels will feature leading experts in the ICT field and will encourage audience participation.

  • Parallel events at the Tunis Summit: deadline for applications, 30 April 2005
    The Tunis Summit will provide an opportunity for accredited entities to organize events related to WSIS themes in parallel with the core political process. As in Geneva, the parallel events at Tunis will be a highlight of the Summit intended to brainstorm on relevant issues and showcase best practices. Reports from these multi-stakeholder events will be presented to the Summit plenary. Further information and the application form can be found in the “Guidelines for Organizers of Parallel events during the second phase of WSIS” published on the website of the Tunisian host country. 
    Please note that applications should be submitted not later than 30 April 2005

  • Intersessional period between PrepCom-2 and PrepCom-3
    In its last plenary meeting, the Preparatory Committee agreed to send the negotiated chapter on Financial Mechanisms directly to PrepCom-3 to finalize the text that remains in square brackets. The political component of the Tunis document will be forwarded to PrepCom-3, along with a compilation of all written comments and proposals made during PrepCom-2. The chapters on Implementation and Follow-up mechanisms for the WSIS Action Plan and post-Summit phase will be reviewed by the Group of Friends of the Chair. The revised text on these issues, along with a compilation of the written comments and proposals, will be transmitted to PrepCom-3. 

    The Report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) will also be submitted to PrepCom-3, along with the compiled comments and drafting proposals made by the stakeholders until mid-August.

    The third meeting of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom-3) of the Tunis phase of the WSIS will be held in Geneva, 19-30 September 2005. Information about PrepCom-3 will be made available on the WSIS website.

  • New contributions to the WSIS Fund
    ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi confirmed at PrepCom-2 that the WSIS-2005 Fundraising Campaign has brought in more than CHF 1.3 million in new financial contributions to support core preparatory activities of the Tunis phase With these new contributions to the WSIS Fund, more than CHF 2.7 million has been raised, representing over half of the CHF 5 million campaign goal. The total cost of organizing the core preparatory process and the Summit for the Tunis Phase is estimated to be approximately CHF 15 million (CHF 5 million cash and CHF 10 million in-kind), not including costs incurred by the host country. For details, see the WSIS press release

  • Upcoming events related to the Tunis phase of WSIS: 

WSIS Regional and Sub-Regional Preparatory meetings:  

8-10 May 2005, Cairo, Egypt
The conference entitled "Towards WSIS II: An Arab Regional Dialogue", will be held under the auspices of the League of Arab States, in coordination with the International Telecommunication Union and the WSIS Executive Secretariat. Organized and hosted by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt, the conference is expected to produce an updated version of the Pan Arab Regional Plan of Action.

8-10 June 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

The Brazilian government is convening the Regional WSIS Preparatory Ministerial Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean “On the way to Tunis”. Concurrently, seminars will be organized with the participation of civil society, academia and the private sector on topics related to building a Regional Action Plan (eLAC2007) for the Information Society.



WSIS Thematic meetings: 

14 - 18 March 2005, Ottawa, Canada
In order to prepare a thematic meeting on “Indigenous Peoples in the Information Society: Delivering on the Plan of Action” at the Tunis phase of WSIS, the Aboriginal Canada Portal  has sent out a call letter. Plans are being developed between the Government of Canada and Canadian National Aboriginal Organizations (through the Aboriginal Canada Portal Working Group – ACPWG), other States and Indigenous organizations and the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to begin planning for the Tunis phase of WSIS. The meeting will focus on reviewing implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action and on planning the Indigenous theme at the Tunis Summit. 

6-7 May 2005, Bamako, Mali

UNESCO, in partnership with the 'Académie Africaine des Langues' (ACALAN), the 'Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie' (AIF) and the Government of Mali and other international institutions, is organizing a thematic meeting on “Multilingualism for Cultural Diversity and Participation of All in Cyberspace” in Bamako, Mali, on 6 and 7 May 2005. The meeting will build on the WSIS recognition of the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity in the digital world and highlight the fundamental importance of removing barriers to access and participation of all on the Internet. The discussions will focus on multilingualism from two perspectives: Policies and standards needed to ensure inclusive knowledge societies; and global experiences in building a multilingual cyberspace. 

11-13 May 2005, Paris, France
In preparation for the Tunis phase of WSIS, UNESCO and the Club of Rome are organizing a World Conference on "ICT for Capacity Building: Critical Success Factors" at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The purpose of the Conference is to discuss the use of ICT, including satellites, for capacity building, and its key strategic role for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals and building knowledge societies. It gives particular attention to the special needs of marginalized groups in areas that are out of the reach of traditional education systems but could be given access to new forms of education delivery through satellite technologies.

16-17 May 2005, Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese government, in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations University, will organize a WSIS thematic meeting entitled “Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Conference”. It aims to facilitate the implementation of the common vision of “the ubiquitous network society” to: 
· bridge the digital divide 
· develop information and communication infrastructure 
· enable sustainable, ubiquitous and affordable access to ICTs 
· provide universal access to information and knowledge. 

28 June –1 July 2005, Geneva, Switzerland
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will organize from 28 June to 1 July 2005 a “WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity” at ITU headquarters in Geneva. This conference will examine the recommendations in the WSIS Plan of Action that relate to building confidence and security in the use of ICTs and the promotion of a global culture of cybersecurity. The meeting will specifically consider six broad themes in promoting international cooperation among governments, the private sector and other stakeholders: 
· Information sharing of national approaches 
· Good practices and guidelines 
· Responding to the misuse of ICTs 
· Harmonizing national legal approaches and international legal coordination 
· Technical standards 
· Privacy, data and consumer protection 
· Providing assistance to developing economies.

The first day of the meeting will focus on countering Spam as a follow-up to the ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam held in July 2004.

WSIS Regional Thematic Meetings:

9-11 May 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) and the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) will organize the second “Asia Media Summit - AMS2005”, with the objective of engaging broadcasters from around the world in a dialogue to foster understanding, tolerance and cooperation. The Media Summit will also provide an opportunity for broadcasters to share their thoughts on the Information Society with a view to submitting their recommendations to WSIS in Tunis. 

  • Outcomes of past WSIS thematic meetings on the WSIS website
    Outcome documents of past WSIS thematic meetings (if available in electronic form) are published on the WSIS website




With best regards,