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World Summit on Information Society set to take place under ITUís leadership

Geneva, 28 July 2000 ó The ITU annual governing body - the Council - agreed to proceed with the preparation of a World Summit on Information Society to be held in 2003 under ITUís leadership in close cooperation with interested United Nations agencies.

The aim of the Summit is to develop a common vision and understanding of the information society, drawing up a strategic plan of action for its concerted development. The Summit is also to define an agenda covering the objectives to be achieved and the resources to be mobilized. The roles of the various partners (Member States, UN agencies, private sector and civil society) in ensuring a smooth coordination of the practical establishment of the information society around the world will also be at the heart of the Summit and its preparation.

"There is little doubt that the emergence of the information society poses new challenges for governments, the private sector and civil society," said ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi. "But the advent of new information and communication technologies (ICT) can also empower individuals and communities to improve their lives in ways not possible before", he also said. "It is therefore important to define clearly the challenges resulting from the development of ICT and agree on shared approaches as society moves from a machine-based to a knowledge-based society."

Already, several countries have adopted Information Society initiatives and the matter is under active consideration in many others. But the inherent global nature of knowledge-based societies makes it vital that international approaches be considered to avoid the creation of a new form of divide or the emergence of conflicting frameworks.

The decision of the Council rests on the results of a feasibility study initiated in 1999, following the decision of ITU top policy-making body to give consideration to the holding of such a summit, the overwhelming support of Executive Heads of the United Nations agencies which called the ITU action "a timely initiative" and a review of recent global summits.

The proposed summit is called to express a clear statement of political will and a concrete action plan. The themes will be sufficiently broad to ensure that the Summit takes a comprehensive approach to the issues while being clearly defined so as to allow focused discussions and results. The core issues to be addressed will include infrastructure, equitable access in a digital global economy, services and applications and their implications for economic, social and cultural development, consumer protection, privacy and security as well as content and the right to communicate.

The scope and nature of this ambitious project will require strategic partnerships with public and private entities that will be actively sought in the coming months.

Two countries, Switzerland and Tunisia have already indicated interest in hosting the event. The venue will be decided before the end of this year to enable the host country chosen to initiate preparations for the Summit.

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Updated : 2002-12-17