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F O R E W O R D

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 agenda-setting Summit.

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 divide.

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.

Yoshio UTSUMI

Secretary-General of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 
Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

 

 

 

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