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 BASIC INFORMATION : ABOUT WSIS
 Preparatory Process
 

Preparatory Committee

The General Assembly of the United Nations on 21 December 2001 adopted Resolution 56/183 Pdf format concerning the organization of a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). That Resolution recommended creating an intergovernmental Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), which would be responsible for the preparations for WSIS. Its tasks would include drawing up an agenda for the Summit, finalizing a draft declaration and a draft action plan, and deciding on the arrangements for participation by other stakeholders.

 

President of PrepCom
The first session of the Preparatory Committee, convened by the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) from 1 to 5 July 2002 in Geneva, elected Mr. Adama Samassékou, former Minister of Education of Mali, as President of the Preparatory Committee for the Geneva phase of WSIS. Mr Samassékou made it his mission to ensure that information and communication technologies “be put into the service of all people, regardless of language, culture, gender or geographic location.”

 

For the Tunis Phase of the Summit, the Preparatory Meeting that took place in Hammamet (Tunisia) from 24-26 June 2004, elected Ambassador Janis Karklins, from Latvia, President of PrepCom. 

 

Bureau
Furthermore, at its first session in July 2002, PrepCom elected one President and fourteen Vice-Presidents (three representatives from each of the UNGA regions), and two more ex-officio from the host countries, Switzerland and Tunisia). Together with Committee President Adama Samassékou, they constituted the Bureau of PrepCom for the first phase of WSIS with the mandate to give guidance to the Preparatory Committee on procedural matters. The Bureau members were drawn from the following countries: Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Japan, Latvia, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania,  Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, and United States of America.


For the Tunis phase, governments agreed on the composition of a new Bureau and to raise the number of countries per region to six. The following 32 countries constituted the Bureau of the Tunis phase of the Summit:

  • Asia Region: Bangladesh, China, Japan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia
  • Latin America and Caribbean Region: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
  • Africa Region: Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Senegal, Zambia
  • Western Europe and North America Region: Canada, France, Greece, Norway, Spain, United States
  • Eastern Europe Region: Armenia, Belarus, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro
  • Ex-officio members (host countries): Switzerland and Tunisia


The preparatory process of the Geneva phase
In the preparatory process of the Geneva phase, Governments were involved in large consultations with other stakeholders and in intense negotiations to draft the Declaration of Principles that would form the bedrock for the Information Society and formulate a Plan of Action to meet concrete targets to ‘connect the world’ and bring the benefits of ICTs to all nations. Three Preparatory Committee sessions took place in the first phase as well as a series of Regional conferences and thematic workshops. 


PrepCom Schedule in the first phase
PrepCom 1: Geneva 1-5 July 2002
PrepCom 2: Geneva 17-28 February 2003
PrepCom 3: Geneva 15-26 September 2003; 10-14 November 2003; 5-6 December 2003; and 9 December 2003.

An Intersessional Meeting (between PrepCom-2 and PrepCom-3) was held in Paris (15-18 July 2003) under the auspices of UNESCO.

Regional Conferences in the first phase
Africa – Bamako, Mali 28-30 May 2002
Europe – Bucharest, Romania 7-9 November 2002
Asia Pacific – Tokyo, Japan 13-15 January 2003 
Latin America & Caribbean – Bávaro, Dominican Republic, 29-31 January 2003
Western Asia – Beirut, Lebanon, 4-6 February 2003

 

WSIS-Geneva: Final negotiations for the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action
The third and final PrepCom that met in Geneva in September 2003 grappled with the contentious issues surrounding internet governance, open source software, freedom of expression, the media, financing, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). In order to complete negotiations on these critical issues, it was decided to resume the session in November 2003. Following more consultations and facilitation from the host government, the PrepCom reconvened yet again in December and, on the eve of WSIS, on 9 December 2003, agreement was finally reached on the Declaration of Principles, “Building the Information Society: A Global Challenge in the New Millennium”, and a concrete Plan of Action.

 

The preparatory process of the Tunis phase

The Geneva Summit decided to hold a preparatory meeting in the first half of 2004 to review those issues of the Information Society that should form the focus of the Tunis phase of WSIS and to agree on the structure of the process for the second phase on the basis of contributions from delegations. This preparatory meeting constituted the first PrepCom of the Tunis phase.

PrepCom-1 of the Tunis phase
PrepCom-1 of the Tunis phase took place at Hammamet, Tunisia , 24-26 June 2004. The meeting adopted the Decision of PrepCom-1 and decided that the focus of the Tunis Phase should be:

  • Follow-up and implementation of the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action by stakeholders at national, regional and international levels, with particular attention to the challenges facing the Least Developed Countries;
  • Consideration of the report of the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM) and appropriate action;
  • Internet governance: consideration of the report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) and appropriate action;

The meeting further decided that agreements reached in the Geneva phase should not be reopened, that the output of the Tunis Phase should be a final document or documents comprising a concise political part and an operational part, both of which reflect the areas of focus of the Tunis phase while reaffirming and enhancing the commitments undertaken in the Geneva phase, and that the preparatory process of the Tunis Phase should be inclusive, efficient, transparent and cost-effective: in principle, following the roadmap illustrated in the annexed chart.  

Regarding PrepCom-2, the meeting decided that a group of friends of the President of the PrepCom of the Tunis Phase (afterwards informally called Group of Friends of the Chair) with the assistance of the WSIS Executive Secretariat and in consultation with regional groups, should prepare a document to serve as a basis for negotiations in PrepCom-2, taking into account , as appropriate, the outcomes of relevant thematic, regional and other WSIS-related meetings.

The last part of the decision was an answer to the procedural difficulties of the Geneva phase. In the Geneva phase, the basis of negotiation was developed by combining the outcomes of the 5 regional preparatory meetings, in a lengthy process to eliminate redundancies. In the Tunis phase, for the sake of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the basis of negotiation was developed by the Group of Friends of the Chair (GFC), taking into account the different written inputs from all stakeholders, but also the two documents that were submitted to the Preparatory Process by the United Nations Secretary-General, namely the Report from the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (which was submitted to PrepCom-2), and the Report from the Working Group on Internet Governance (which was submitted to PrepCom-3). The GFC held several meetings before PrepCom-2, and also between PrepCom-2 and PrepCom-3. Some of the meetings were closed meetings, while others were open to all observers.
 

PrepCom-2 of the Tunis phase
PrepCom-2 took place in Geneva, 17-25 February 2005. The meeting adopted the basic structures of the Tunis outcome documents with a political chapeau and an operational part with four chapters, as proposed by the Group of Friends of the Chair (GFC):

  1. Implementation mechanisms
  2. Financing mechanisms
  3. Internet Governance
  4. The way ahead

PrepCom-2 adopted the “Decision of PrepCom-1”. GFC was asked to continue working on chapters 1 and 4 of the operational part. It further decided that the existing text of chapter 2 and the political chapeau would be forwarded directly to PrepCom-3, and invited Governments and all stakeholders to submit written comments and proposals for chapter 3, which would be compiled by the Executive Secretariat and sent to PrepCom-3.

PrepCom-3 of the Tunis phase
PrepCom-3 took place in Geneva, 19-30 September 2005. As the meeting was unable to finalize negotiations, PrepCom-3 decided to resume its session in Tunis from 13 to 15 November 2003. The resumed session of PrepCom-3 decided that the political chapeau should be a separate document, and finalized both the political chapeau (called “Tunis Commitment”) and the operational part (the “Tunis Agenda for the Information Society”) late on 15 November. Finalization of the documents took place in Tunis largely in plenary and subcommittee mode, with all stakeholders present in the room. Observers were invited to speak at the beginning of the Plenary meeting of 13 November, and also at the beginning of the Subcommittee meetings on 13, 14 and 15 November.

go List of chairpersons during the Geneva and Tunis phases of WSIS

go List of members of the civil society caucuses and working groups [external site]

go Some personal recollections of the WSIS process (WSIS stories):

go Some assessments of WSIS by different stakeholders:

 


 

 

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