We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from
10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information
Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred,
inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can
create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling
individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in
promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life,
premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations
and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our challenge is to harness the potential of information and communication
technology to promote the development goals of the Millennium Declaration,
namely the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achievement of universal
primary education; promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women;
reduction of child mortality; improvement of maternal health; to combat
HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and
development of global partnerships for development for the attainment of a more
peaceful, just and prosperous world. We also reiterate our commitment to the achievement
of sustainable development and agreed development goals, as contained in the Johannesburg
Declaration and Plan of Implementation and the Monterrey Consensus,
and other outcomes of relevant United Nations Summits.
We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and
interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right
to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also
reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are
interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen respect
for the rule of law in international as in national affairs.
We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information Society, and as
outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of
frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and
the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information
Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no
one should be excluded from the benefits the Information Society offers.
We further reaffirm our commitment to the
provisions of Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
that everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full
development of their personality is possible, and that, in the exercise of their
rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are
determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect
for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of
morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. These
rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and
principles of the United Nations. In this way, we shall promote an
Information Society where human dignity is respected.
In keeping with the spirit of this declaration, we rededicate ourselves
to upholding the principle of the sovereign equality of all States.
We recognize that science has a central role in the development of the
Information Society. Many of the building blocks of the Information Society are
the result of scientific and technical advances made possible by the sharing of
We recognize that education, knowledge, information and communication are at
the core of human progress, endeavour and well-being. Further, information and
communication technologies (ICTs) have an immense impact on virtually all
aspects of our lives. The rapid progress of these technologies opens completely
new opportunities to attain higher levels of development. The capacity of these
technologies to reduce many traditional obstacles, especially those of time and
distance, for the first time in history makes it possible to use the potential
of these technologies for the benefit of millions of people in all corners of
We are aware that ICTs should be regarded as tools and not as an end in
themselves. Under favourable conditions, these technologies can be a powerful
instrument, increasing productivity, generating economic growth, job creation
and employability and improving the quality of life of all. They can also
promote dialogue among people, nations and civilizations.
We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information technology
revolution are today unevenly distributed between the developed and developing
countries and within societies. We are fully committed to turning this
digital divide into a digital opportunity for all, particularly for those who
risk being left behind and being further marginalized.
We are committed to realizing our common vision of the Information Society
for ourselves and for future generations. We recognize that young people
are the future workforce and leading creators and earliest adopters of ICTs.
They must therefore be empowered as learners, developers, contributors,
entrepreneurs and decision-makers. We must focus especially on young
people who have not yet been able to benefit fully from the opportunities
provided by ICTs. We are also committed to ensuring that the development
of ICT applications and operation of services respects the rights of children as
well as their protection and well-being.
We affirm that development of ICTs provides enormous opportunities for
women, who should be an integral part of, and key actors, in the Information
Society. We are committed to ensuring that the Information Society
enables women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of
equality in all spheres of society and in all decision-making processes. To this
end, we should mainstream a gender equality perspective and use ICTs as a
tool to that end.
In building the Information Society, we shall pay particular attention to
the special needs of marginalized and vulnerable groups of society, including
migrants, internally displaced persons and refugees, unemployed and
underprivileged people, minorities and nomadic people. We shall also
recognize the special needs of older persons and persons with disabilities.
We are resolute to empower the poor, particularly those living in remote,
rural and marginalized urban areas, to access information and to use ICTs as a
tool to support their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given
to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation
of their heritage and their cultural legacy.
We continue to pay special attention to the particular needs of people of
developing countries, countries with economies in transition, Least Developed
Countries, Small Island Developing States, Landlocked Developing Countries,
Highly Indebted Poor Countries, countries and territories under occupation,
countries recovering from conflict and countries and regions with special needs
as well as to conditions that pose severe threats to development, such as
We recognize that building an inclusive Information Society requires new
forms of solidarity, partnership and cooperation among governments and other
stakeholders, i.e. the private sector, civil society and international
organizations. Realizing that the ambitious goal of this Declaration — bridging
the digital divide and ensuring harmonious, fair and equitable development for
all — will require strong commitment by all stakeholders, we call for
digital solidarity, both at national and international levels.
18. Nothing in this Declaration shall be
construed as impairing, contradicting, restricting or derogating from the
provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, any other international instrument or national
laws adopted in furtherance of these instruments.