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Guy-Olivier Segond appointed Special Ambassador for the World Summit on the Information Society

Geneva, 4 February 2002 Mr Guy-Olivier Segond, former President of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, has been appointed Special Ambassador for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the first phase of which is to held in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003.

In the words of Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union and Chairman of the High-Level Summit Organizing Committee (HLSOC): "Given his well-established competencies, his wide-ranging experience in relations with leaders from all parts of the world and his close participation in the Summit preparatory activities thus far carried out, I am convinced that his active involvement will be a key factor in ensuring the success of this global event".

Mr Guy-Olivier Segond is a Swiss political figure who, in the course of his various elective terms as a member of the Federal Parliament, as Mayor of Geneva and as President of the State Council of Geneva, has always been committed to international cooperation.

With a keen eye on human rights, sustainable development and the digital divide, Mr Segond has participated in numerous conferences and meetings at which the focus was on putting new technology to work in the service of human development. It was in that context that he co-chaired, together with His Excellency Mr Alpha Oumar Konare, President of Mali, the Bamako 2000 Conference. In addition to this, he played an active part in the high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council devoted to new information and communication technologies, which contributed to the Millennium Statement and to United Nations General Assembly resolution 56/183 of 21 December 2001 on the World Summit on the Information Society.

As Special Ambassador for the Summit, Mr Segond will be responsible for high-level contacts with governments and with agencies of the United Nations system aimed at sensitizing them to the importance of the Summit. In addition to this, he will be responsible for contacts with leaders in the private sector aimed at securing their involvement in the preparatory work for the Summit on both the content and financial levels. And, last but not least, he will ensure that the Summit receives the necessary media exposure and will participate in relevant meetings and events.

"My appointment as Special Ambassador for the World Summit on the Information Society is a great honour and a major challenge: mobilizing all the leaders of the planet in a short space of time will call for a strong, clear and unfailing commitment" said Mr Segond, adding that "The stakes in terms of human development are enormous, which is why I intend to take up this challenge and carry through this important mandate in the interests of facilitating the advent of the information society for all".

The aim of the World Summit is to develop a common vision and understanding of the information society as something which has a bearing on all fields of human activity. It will examine ways and means of ensuring that the information revolution works in favour of human development and against the digital divide, to which end it will adopt a statement of principles and a strategic action plan for concerted development. The Summit will be held in two phases, in Geneva in December 2003 and in Tunis in 2005. The preparatory work will take the form of an intergovernmental process that is open to international organizations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society. The process will be led by a Preparatory Committee and will be accompanied by regional conferences and theme-based meetings. In order to realize this vision, it will be necessary to draw up a strategic plan of action for concerted development. The Summit will thus provide a unique opportunity to bring together the global community at the very highest level - Heads of State, Heads of United Nations agencies, industry leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media, and the spokespersons of society at large.

The themes being proposed for the Summit will be discussed during the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), to be held from 1 to 5 July 2002 in Geneva. They will address matters corresponding to the central issues raised by the information society, such as:

  • building the infrastructure
  • opening the gates: universal and equitable access to the information society
  • services and applications
  • the needs of the user
  • developing a framework
  • ICTs, education and health

Under each theme, consideration will be given to, among others, the relevant developmental, economic, policy, social, cultural and technological aspects.

The initiative for the Summit originated at the 1998 Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU, the United Nations specialized agency responsible for telecommunications. Since telecommunications will play a central role in the emerging information society, ITU will play a lead role in the planning and organizing of the Summit, in close cooperation with all information society players.

For further information on the Summit, click here

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