A Chairman for Subcommittee-2
The Chairman of the PrepCom, Mr Adama
Samassékou, opened today’s plenary meeting, the second of the conference,
with news of the decision by the Asian Group to nominate Ambassador Yasuaki
Nogawa of Japan as Chairman of Subcommittee 2 (the task of which is to develop a
draft declaration of principles and action plan for WSIS). Mr Nogawa’s
election in Plenary received a warm response from the regional groups and
numerous delegations, who were convinced of his ability to steer the work of the
subcommittee to a successful and fruitful conclusion.
The Secretary of the plenary, Mr Pierre
Gagné, introduced a compilation prepared by the Executive secretariat of the
regional declarations to assist the Subcommittee in its work. This compilation
had been requested by the Bureau. Mr Samassékou also presented his updated
orientation document, which takes into account the outcome of all the regional
conferences. All documents and contributions are available on the WSIS website
Summing up, Mr Samassékou said, “The
roundtables have borne witness to the wealth of ideas you all have, including
your impressions and recollections from the regional meetings. These will
provide food for the work of the days ahead”. He added: “I believe that the
fraternal atmosphere between us here will continue to set the tone for our work.
Finding the Way Forward
Opening Thursday’s meeting of
Subcommittee 2, the newly-elected chairman of Subcommittee 2, Ambassador Nogawa
(Japan), recalled the words of the President of PrepCom,
saying: “I hope we can conduct our work in a spirit of peace and
friendship.” The subcommittee has before it the difficult task of developing a
draft declaration of principles and action plan for WSIS. But Ambassador Nogawa
was optimistic at the high degree of convergence already achieved in regional
meetings. Given the limited time for work, he called for expediency, and hoped
the subcommittee would move rapidly onto substantive issues.
But as discussions began on procedural
matters, consensus was not easy to come by. The first point of contention was
which document to use as the basis for the draft declaration and action plan.
Some delegations, including Greece, Kenya, Mali and Switzerland, thought Mr
Samassékou’s informal, orientation document “information and communication
for all” formed a good starting point with broad scope for development. Others
thought that the compilation document of outcomes from the regional conferences
(document WSIS/PC-2/DT/1) prepared by the WSIS Executive Secretariat should be
used. The output from the regional meetings was, it was argued, representative
of both the decisions reached at PrepCom-1, and reflected the views of
governments at ministerial level Others called for a new document to be
produced on the basis of the compilation document, taking into account all the
other contributions, as well as the PrepCom-2 roundtable outputs.
While consensus hovered close at hand at
times during what was a heated debate, no clear solution emerged. In an attempt
to overcome the stalemate, a number of calls were made for a drafting, or ad
hoc, group to be set up to produce a basic document based on the compilation
document and other inputs to date, in addition to the output from the
roundtables. Despite widespread support for this in principle, the question
could not be resolved of whether such a group should be open-ended, or composed
of a limited number of representatives
from each of the different regions. A third solution, supported by Cuba, Egypt,
Pakistan, the Dominican Republic and others, was for the WSIS Executive
Secretariat to produce the new draft document on the basis of its compilation of
In a plea to delegates to work to overcome
their differences in a spirit of open-mindedness, and to restore “serenity to
the working atmosphere” of the conference, Mr Samassékou urged the
subcommittee to move ahead rapidly in developing its basic working document so
that it could begin the substantive part of its work.
Different Stakeholders, A Common Objective
The need for all players to define their
roles and responsibilities in the Information Society was the appeal made by the
moderator Maria Cattaui, who opened the last of the roundtable sessions ‘Role
of the different stakeholders’. “We all need to talk about our digital
commitment instead of a digital divide”.
Ms Thérčse Gastaut, of the United Nations Department of Public Information, acknowledged the critical role that the media plays in any discussion on the information society. She also recognized the important role of public communications in ensuring cultural and linguistic diversity, and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Ms Gastaut asked delegates to help make the Summit a milestone in the history by making it, "a stage towards what the Secretary-General calls an open information society, promoting tolerance and diversity, a society that will put globalization and its benefits within the reach of all."
Bruno Lavin, from the World Bank, referred
to the Summit as a major opportunity to bring all stakeholders’ broad range of
experiences together, learning from their best and worst practices. However, in
his view the information society is an area where action often precedes talk.
Global Knowledge Partnership presented its
contribution to WSIS ‘multi-stakeholder partnerships in ICT for
development’. Rinalia Abdul, represented the organization and focused on
the need for partners to understand each other’s objectives and respect each
other’s mandates. “Partners must accept differentiated roles and
responsibilities based on individual capacity, mandate and strengths”.
Finally, Michael Warner from the Overseas
Development Institute (ODI) reminded delegates “both ICT and strategic
partnerships are a means to an end and not an end in itself”.
The most informal forum for the discussion of topics
of importance to the World Summit on the Information Society was convened at
PrepCom-2. The first of four Workshops was presented. For more information on
these Workshops click here.
Making Partnerships Possible
Developing ICT programs by enabling
multi-sector partnership was a workshop presented by Michael Warner of the
Overseas Development Institute (ODI), an expansion of his presentation at the
roundtable entitled ‘The Role of the different stakeholders in the
The model outlined the need for parameters
in ICT for development programmes by identifying the areas of work such as
building human capacity, policy and regulation, infrastructure, enterprise and
content and applications. He emphasized that pooling core competencies with
multi-sector partnerships in the business sector, public sector or civil society
leads to a “partnering process”, which will facilitate the exploration,
building and maintenance of strong partnerships.
“All partnerships must be based on a
level of trustable interdependency where all partners clearly see the added
value of working together”.
For media information concerning the second phase of the Summit, click
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