ITU Secretary-General Utsumi praises achievements,
but stresses need for greater effort:“We cannot fail”
Geneva, 30 September 2005 - The third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom-3) of
the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) closed its
doors at 21:00 tonight after a gruelling two weeks of day and night sessions
that saw agreement on large sections of the Summit text, some major developments
in the international community’s approach to Internet governance, but ultimately
disappointing progress on a raft of contentious issues.
With just six weeks to go before the Summit opens in Tunis, ITU
Secretary-General and Secretary-General of WSIS, Mr Yoshio Utsumi, urged
delegates to focus their hearts and minds on arriving at consensus solutions
that would assure a credible outcome document that will serve as an effective
instrument for promoting ICT development and access worldwide.
Speaking after the close of PrepCom-3’s final Plenary session, Mr Utsumi
praised delegates’ hard work, but said more effort is needed. “During the last
two weeks we have seen enormous political will to develop meaningful texts that
will serve as a solid foundation for tomorrow’s Information Society,” he said.
“If some issues remain unresolved, this is a testament to delegates’ refusal
to compromise on the principles they believe to be fundamental to promoting
access to ICTs. A strong Summit outcome is the goal of all delegates – and we
must all continue to work hard to achieve this. If we wish to build a just and
equitable Information Society, this Summit cannot be allowed to fail.”
New round of meetings planned
In the face of lack of agreement on small but controversial sections of the
Summit outcome document, delegates will now reconvene in Geneva ahead of the
Tunis event to try to resolve some of the sticking points, which include
provisions for implementation and follow-up of the WSIS Action Plan, and the
wording of the political document outlining participating member states’
In line with formal procedures, PrepCom-3 will be suspended and an
intersessional open-ended negotiation group will be set up under the
chairmanship of Ambassador Janis Karklins, Chairman of the Tunis Phase of the
PrepCom process. This group's mandate will be to negotiate the chapters on
Implementation (Chapter 1), Financial Mechanisms (Chapter 2) and Follow-up
(Chapter 4). It will also finalize the political part of the document.
Chapter 3 on Internet Governance will be considered during a resumed session
of PrepCom-3, to be held back-to-back with the Summit in Tunis.
PrepCom-3 agreed that the Summit negotiation group will hold two sessions of
2 – 3 days each in Geneva in October to conclude negotiations: one session to
finalize the political document and agree on the outstanding parts of the
chapter on financing mechanisms, and the other to try to reach agreement on the
outstanding issues contained in Chapters 1 and Chapter 4.
PrepCom-3 agreed to entrust the WSIS Bureau, or steering committee, to decide
on the place, date and modalities of the resumed PrepCom meeting. It also agreed
to split the Summit outcome into two – a political document and an operational
Breakthrough on Internet governance
The PrepCom-3 Internet governance debate centered around the report of the
multi-stakeholder Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), set up following
the Geneva Phase of WSIS to investigate and make proposals on the future
governance of the Internet. The group’s final report released in Geneva on 18
July, along with comments on the report by all stakeholders, served as a source
of inspiration for discussions over the two-week period.
After a slow start characterized by strongly polarized positions, the pace
picked up substantially in Week 2 following the release of a draft document by
the Chair, which saw delegates knuckle down to the task of brokering agreement
and drafting new text on issues ranging from spam and cybercrime to
interconnection costs and — most crucially — management of critical Internet
resources such as the domain name and IP addressing systems.
While many delegations from the developing world had been vocal on the urgent
need for new management and oversight mechanisms to better reflect the global
nature of the Internet, others, led by the US, had presented a relatively united
front generally supportive of the status quo.
That scenario changed, however, two days before the end of PrepCom, when the
UK delegation, speaking on behalf of the European Union, tabled a new proposal
that marked a clear departure from its earlier position.
The proposal outlined a new framework for international cooperation that would
see the creation of a new, multi-stakeholder forum to develop public policy, and
— most significantly — international government involvement in allocation of IP
addressing blocks and procedures for changing the root zone file to provide for
insertion of new top-level domain names and changes of country-code top level
domain name (ccTLDs) managers.
Other countries added their suggestions. PrepCom-3 agreed that
nine proposals from
governments would be forwarded together with Chairman Masood Khan’s new
“Food for Thought”
on section five of chapter three, to the back-to-back meeting to be held in
Implementation and follow-up
The other key agenda items for PrepCom-3 included finalization of arrangements
for financing of WSIS Action Plan commitments, and the setting out of future
mechanisms for implementation of the Action Plan and the follow-up of the
Following adoption of the Plan by 175 countries during the Geneva Phase of
the Summit, clear arrangements setting out responsibility for ensuring that the
Plan’s targets are implemented and monitored are considered essential, not only
for the successful outcome of the Tunis phase, but also for ensuring that
deliverables are met.
Under proposals tabled at PrepCom-3, many delegations support the
establishment of a multi-stakeholder coordination approach made up of one or
more lead UN agencies, with responsibility for each action line allocated to
each agency according to its specific area of expertise. Others preferred that
the United Nations’ Secretary-General be charged with managing the coordination
A main stumbling block in negotiations remains the precise role of different
agencies, including ITU, in ongoing WSIS activities. The reporting mechanisms
and the relationship between the WSIS follow-up mechanisms and the review
process of the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration also proved
problematic for some delegations.
ICT financing mechanisms
The problem of effective financial strategies to promote the development of
information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the world’s under-served
regions was raised during the WSIS Geneva Phase. Without consensus on the best
way to address the issue, the first phase of WSIS requested UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan to establish a Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM).
The group’s final report tabled at PrepCom-2 served as a basis for the
discussions. PrepCom-2 largely agreed on the text of Chapter 2, with only a few
paragraphs to be approved by PrepCom-3.
Acknowledging the key role played by the private sector, the text already
agreed by PrepCom-2 endorse the focusing of financial resources in areas
- ICT capacity-building programmes
- Regional backbone infrastructure and Internet Exchange Points
- Assistance for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing
States to lower transaction costs related to international donor support
- Integration of ICTs into the implementation of poverty eradication
strategies, particularly in the health, education, agriculture and the
- Funding of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs)
- Fostering of local ICT manufacturing in developing countries
- ICT regulatory reform
- Local government and community-owned initiatives that deliver ICT
services to communities
- The meeting also stressed the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach
and coordination between government and business.
While there was no major impediment to consensus, due to lack of time,
PrepCom-3 did not finalize Chapter 2.
In addition, the political part of the Tunis document proved more difficult to
negotiate than expected.
Disagreement centred around whether text from the original Geneva Declaration
should remain unchanged or reinforced in the Tunis output, given that the first
PrepCom had agreed not to reopen what had been adopted in Geneva.
Discussions were also intense over issues such as open source and proprietary
software, free access to information and the handling of harmful content, the
importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for the Information Society,
trade liberalization and debt relief to bridge the digital divide, and the
regulatory role of governments.
At the close of PrepCom-3, with no consensus on around 50% of the text, the
document will tackled again by the negotiating group.
Chairman: Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan)
PrepCom-3 Output Text Chapter
3 and proposals.
Key achievements during PrepCom-3:
- Starting from scratch, around 80% of Chapter 3 of the WSIS outcome
document was drafted and agreed
- Ground-breaking consensus on the need for a coordinated international
approach to spam, e-commerce, cybercrime, international Internet
connectivity charges, multilingualism, and ICT capacity-building, for which
no international treaties yet exist
Remaining focus of negotiations between now and the Summit:
- Management of critical Internet resources (IP names and addresses and
root zone file system)
- The governance function
- The proposed creation of a forum
Implementation, financing mechanisms, follow-up and the political document
Chairman: Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole (South Africa)
Looking Ahead to Tunis
In addition to Summit Plenary sessions, a number of roundtables, High-Level
Panels and an Exhibition, as well as media events, are planned during the three
days of the Summit (16-18 November). This innovative format will emphasize the
role of the private sector and civil society in shaping the new Information
Society, providing Heads of State and Government with the opportunity to engage
in public discussions on the future of the Information Society with prominent
business and civil society leaders.
In addition, more than 230 separate Parallel Events are planned by civil
society organizations, business entities and national delegations, comprising
debates and presentations on a whole spectrum of issues relevant to the Summit
1’925 participants attended the two-week event, of which;
- 1’047 delegates represented 152 governments and the European Community;
- 635 participants represented 200 NGOs or Civil society entities;
- 152 participants from 54 entities representing International
- 73 participants from 36 entities representing business entities
- 18 participants representing six entities with standing invitation from
the United Nations General Assembly
For a full summary of debates during PrepCom-3, see the
For further information about the World Summit on the Information Society contact:
Ms. Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations
International Telecommunication Union
Tel: +41 22 730 6135