STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI,
AT THE WORLD SUMMIT ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
TUNIS, 16 NOVEMBER 2005
Your Excellency, President Ben Ali of the Republic of
Your Excellency Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the
Your Excellency Mr Y Utsumi, Secretary General of the
International Telecommunications Union,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Heads of Delegation, Ministers, distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for affording us the opportunity to participate
in this important World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Let me
also thank the government and the people of the Republic of Tunisia for
their warm hospitality and the excellent manner in which they have organised
this important gathering.
The world community of nations has recognised the fact
that one of the central and urgent challenges facing humanity is the
eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.
We hope that the fact that this second phase of the World
Summit on Information Society takes place in Africa will further underline
the need for us all to do everything possible to promote the use of modem
information and communication technologies to help extricate the poor of
Africa and the world from their condition of underdevelopment,
marginalisation and social exclusion.
We believe that it is imperative that the decisions we
take should fully reflect the desire we expressed in the Declaration of
Principles we adopted in Geneva in 2003, "to build a people-centred,
inclusive and development-oriented Information Society...enabling
individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in
promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of
These decisions must, again as we agreed in Geneva,
enable all stakeholders to work together, among other things "to improve
access to information and communication infrastructure and
technologies...build capacity, increase confidence and security in the use
of ICTs, develop and widen ICT applications, foster and respect cultural
diversity...and encourage international and regional cooperation."
In this regard, we welcome and fully support the agreed
position that Internet Governance is an essential part of a "people-centred,
inclusive, development-oriented and non-discriminatory Information Society",
and that "we commit ourselves to the stability and security of the Internet
as a global facility and to ensuring the requisite legitimacy of its
governance, based on the full participation of all stakeholders".
Indeed, the creation of an inclusive and
development-oriented Information Society is in the best interests of the
majority of humanity because most of the peoples of the world, especially
from the developing countries, are confronted by the challenge of exclusion
in the context of the global economy, in whose development modern
information and communication technologies play a vital role.
Accordingly, one of the fundamental challenges facing all
of us is to build multilateral and multi-stakeholder institutions and
systems rooted within the UN system to ensure inclusive and equitable access
to ICTs within the context of an Internet Governance system that is
legitimate, transparent and accountable.
We therefore agreed fully that this World Summit should
mandate the Secretary General of the United Nations to convene the Internet
Governance Forum to enable multilateral, multi-stakeholder, democratic and
transparent dialogue to take place covering all relevant areas.
We also believe that we should move with the necessary
speed to implement the agreement to utilise various technologies and
licensing models, including those developed under both proprietary schemes
and open source and free modalities to expedite access to ICTs and the
elimination of the digital divide by fostering collaborative development,
inter-operative platforms and free and open source software.
Our country and continent are determined to do everything
possible to achieve their renewal and development, defeating the twin
scourges of poverty and underdevelopment. In this regard, we have fully
recognised the critical importance of modern ICTs as a powerful ally we have
to mobilise, as reflected both in our national initiatives and the priority
programmes of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
We are therefore determined to do everything we can to
implement the outcomes of this World Summit on the Information Society and
appeal to all stakeholders similarly to commit themselves to take action to
translate the shared vision of an inclusive development-oriented information
society into practical reality.