It is my great privilege to present the outcome documents from the World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in two phases in
Geneva, 10-12 December 2003 and in Tunis, 16-18 November 2005. This Summit
represents a milestone, not only for the United Nations and the International
Telecommunication Union, which played the leading managerial role in the Summit,
but for all stakeholders involved. WSIS is a bold attempt to address the issues
raised by information and communication technologies (ICTs) through a structured
and inclusive approach.
Our society is changing radically as ICTs become a bigger part of our lives.
It is changing in ways unimaginable seven years ago, when the Summit was first
proposed by Tunisia at the 1998 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. During those
seven years, the Internet has increased in size ten-fold, while the number of
mobile phone users has now grown to over two billion. I am proud to say that we
are now in a better position to address these changes as a result of this
The Summit has achieved a common understanding of the key principles that
will determine our ability to harness the potential of ICTs. In Geneva in 2003,
world leaders shared the vision of a people-centred, development-oriented and
inclusive Information Society, and committed to the Plan of Action
setting out targets to be achieved from 2003. More than 2500 projects have been
launched in the framework of the Summit, and these are recorded in the WSIS
Stocktaking database and report, which will continue to be maintained by ITU.
In 2005, governments reaffirmed their dedication to the foundations of the
Information Society in the Tunis Commitment and outlined the basis for
implementation and follow-up in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society.
In particular, the Tunis Agenda addresses the issues of financing of ICTs for development and Internet governance that could not be resolved in the
first phase. On Internet governance, the Tunis Agenda foresees the
creation of a new Internet Governance Forum, which will carry the work forward.
The Summit has been notable in its adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach,
and this is now carried forward in the implementation phase with the direct
involvement of civil society and the private sector alongside governments and
international organizations. The ITU-led Connect the World initiative is a good
example of the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in bridging the digital
It is my hope that the lasting legacy of the World Summit on the Information
Society will be the vision of an inclusive Information Society, in which
everyone has the means to express their ideas, and be heard. For then, we will
know that WSIS has truly succeeded in what it set out to achieve.
Secretary-General of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)