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
For media information concerning the second phase of the Summit, click
Telephone: +41 22 730 6039
Fax: +41 22 730 5201