STATEMENT OF H.E. MR MARC FORN╔, HEAD OF
GOVERNMENT OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF ANDORRA,
TO THE WORLD SUMMIT ON THE SOCIETY
Geneva, 11 December 2003
Mr Secretary General, Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an obvious fact that new technologies have had a great influence in shaping our present day world which is more and more interdependent and globalized and this fact has been stressed by the speakers who have preceded me at this summit.
The technological revolution, likely all new things, has both positive and negative aspects and it is up to the rulers of the world to enhance the positive ones and eliminate or minimize the negative ones, always bearing in mind than the greatest beneficiary of the new technologies must be mankind.
The new technologies must be used to unite and not to separate, to make a more just and peaceful world and not to widen or create gaps and differences between countries.
So I believe that we must promote access to the new technologies at a reasonable cost. The quality of the information content, the preservation of intimacy, the avoidance of cultural and linguistic colonization are the rights of all world citizens. It is also necessary to lay down moral guide lines based on human rights to avoid information contents which are degrading, discriminatory or vexatious.
Andorra has not been unconnected with the application of the new technologies and has made available to its population the benefits brought by scientific advances in the world of communications. In this context, aware of the enormous advantages implied by this change, we acted in the first place in the sphere of education and in the school computerization program was begun in 1985. Today all Andorran schools have computers as a tool to support the teaching of other subjects. All schools are connected to Internet. Moreover, the University of Andorra has reached agreements with other universities to provide university teaching via Internet. According to statistics drawn up in May 2002, 93% of students and 92% of teachers used computers in the schools. 77% of students over 12 years old had access to Internet in their homes.
In 1995 we made available universal access to email and direct access to Internet with no need for any administrative contract. At that moment we were pioneers and other countries showed interest in this model developed in Andorra.
But we also wished the benefit of the new technologies to reach the whole population, especially those having daily direct contacts with the administration. The result of this reflection and the opportunities offered us by the new technologies was the implementation in 1999 of the "TrÓmits" project by which any citizen can carry out any administrative formality in his or her parish of origin taking advantage of the new technologies.
To face these technological challenges the government of Andorra set up the Department for the Information Society which, since the drawing up of the white paper, has taken the lead in a whole series of projects conceived to bring citizens closer to the new technologies.
In the international field, despite our modest territorial dimensions, in 1998 Andorra promoted and carried out the computerization of the archives of the group of western states in the United Nations (WEOG) by means of a computer server installed in the Andorran Mission which serves all these states. And I now have the honour of presenting the United Nations Mobile project which Andorra has developed to complement United Nations information in mobile or electronic diary formats available over the Internet. All those interested can attend the presentation of this project today at 2 p.m. in Hall 4 room 17.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to point out that the report published in November under the title "The United Nations World Public Sector Report 2003: E-Government at the crossroads" contains out of date information about Andorra and other small countries.
Only for purposes of information I would like to correct some of the statistics appearing in this report with current data on the position of Andorra in the field of the new technologies which rectify the former:
- The number of telephone lines per thousand inhabitants is 670 (the report says 438). The number of mobile phones per thousand inhabitants is 840 (the report says 302 - an error of 178%).
- According to the same report persons using Internet are 362 per thousand inhabitants. The real figure is 557. The number Internet connection points given by the report is 89 per thousand inhabitants. The current figure of these connection points is 436 (in this case the error is one of 390%)
Greater accuracy is required when drawing up such reports and this accuracy is easy to achieve by means of a phone call or email requesting the true data from those who have them.
All these programs already begun and continuing in Andorra are envisaged in various points of the projected Declaration of Principles proposed for this Summit and I wish to stress that my country will consequently back the projected Declaration.
Up to now I have sketched out the situation of Andorra and the role which the administration has played in making available to the population the advantages given us by the new technological tools. But the work does not stop here. We must have solidarity with the developing countries and do everything possible to enable these countries to benefit from these advances.
At the beginning of this year the small states in group I agreed on a series of basic principles including the points I have already made and noting the attention to be given to the developing countries, something which my country particularly supports. In practical terms it is essential to combat the digital cleavage which is opening up more and more between rich and poor countries, between big and small countries and between social classes with differing purchasing power.
Lastly, for us as citizens of the world, the important basic challenge for the future - once we have achieved the aim of everyone being able to obtain information speedily - is that the information be trustworthy and true and in knowing what use we are to make of the information which we have, while preserving the cultural identity of every country.
So I hope that this first step we are taking here in the city of Geneva today will serve as a guideline for the road which must lead us to the Tunisia Summit in 2005.