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 NEWSROOM : FIRST PHASE, GENEVA : PREPCOM-2 : DAILY HIGHLIGHTS
 Wednesday, 26 February 2003

Businesses Crucial to Action

The day began with the observer group’s input to Subcommittee 2, to be taken into account in the work of the governmental working group. Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, told delegates how the potential of technology to impact on people’s lives is not always recognized in its day. When the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, requested governmental assistance in order to put the technology into practice, the balance only tipped in his favour by a mere six-vote majority.  Today, in the twenty-first century, said Mr Utsumi, the fundamental message of WSIS is the recognition of the potential of new technologies.

The story of Morse’s need for help shows that no innovation can grow without investment – and it was stressed that investment comes to a great extent from the private sector. A representative from the business community added that, “for every bit of financial support provided by the World Bank, three times as much is provided by businesses in funding development initiatives”. The role of businesses is vital, he said, to the implementation of ICT projects, and not only in financial terms: they can also provide an essential “pragmatic filter” to make projects realistically viable. Several delegations in the governmental working group echoed those views, supporting inclusion of text to reflect the role of the private sector – particularly in the context of public-private partnerships.

Security, Learning and Work Emerge as Key Themes

As the working group continued to discuss elements of the draft action plan, many delegations strongly emphasized teleworking, e-learning, and research facilities, felt to be fundamental for the creation of an enabling environment in developing countries. It was pointed out that e-science and technological research are key drivers for both social and technological development.  They attract, it was argued, bright youngsters to stay in their home countries, helping to prevent the ‘brain-drain’ phenomenon towards wealthier nations. These elements go hand-in-hand with the changing nature of the workplace, one delegate also said. New labour laws and other regulations would be required to help protect workers and employers in an increasingly electronic working environment, he pointed out.

The group turned its attention to a new draft declaration paper (Document DT/2), prepared on the basis of inputs to date. The new draft document, the chair stressed, is far from being in a final product but represents a “work in progress”.  Nevertheless, the group was able to make good progress on the basic concepts to be included in the draft declaration.

Among the many issues discussed, the question of security was raised by many delegations. It was pointed out that at the close of PrepCom-1 no absolute consensus had been reached on the issue of security, although some broad lines of agreement had been found. Some delegations called for a reference to the need for an intergovernmental, or international, and transparent mechanism on Internet governance. This should be closely tied to security issues, some delegates held, ensuring a coherent framework for cybersecurity.

Ethical concerns, including child pornography on the Internet, were raised by many, as were issues to do with health and other factors creating inequalities in opportunity and access for ICTs. Several African countries called for an explicit mention of HIV/AIDS, a problem particularly affecting that region. Others also urged for specific paragraphs to be added on people with disabilities, including encouraging the use of assisted technologies and specially designed equipment.  

The draft Declaration and Action plan are available here.


For media information concerning the second phase of the Summit, click here

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