Speech by Dr. Bernd Pfaffenbach,
State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and
Labour of Germany
Tunis, 16 November 2005
Please check against delivery.
Distinguished Heads of State and
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Germany welcomes the second phase of the
World Summit on the Information Society and wants to thank
the Government of Tunisia for being the host country of this
This summit offers a unique opportunity
to shape the future of the information society. The summit
gives industrial states as well as developing countries a
great chance to discuss our vision of a global society.
We can see every day that we are going
through a historic transformation in the way we live, learn,
and communicate. But the realization of a global information
society needs common values
– otherwise it will not work.
Therefore, we regard the recognition of
human rights as a precondition for a global information
This means: freedom of expression, the protection of human
dignity, and the guarantee of free, independent and diverse
The very basis of the Information Society
is freedom of Information as defined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. An essential precondition for a
free exchange of information is the freedom of association
in order to exchange information. The host country of this
Information Summit bears here a special responsibility.
And as we are concerned in this regard,
we support the demarche the Presidency of the European Union
carried out on this issue yesterday.
II. Creating digital opportunities for
In recognition of the increasing impact
of Information and communication technologies on economic,
social, cultural and political dimensions of people’s lives,
we have the obligation to enable everybody to join the
Information Society. But how can we bridge the digital
divide, how can we create digital opportunities for all?
First of all we need to ensure universal
access by unleashing market power to promote ICT
infrastructure. Secondly, we need to overcome other access
barriers like illiteracy, the lack of local
content or the scarcity of ICT professionals.
Admitting that development aid alone can
not cope with these challenges, we need to cooperate with
the private sector. In order to achieve this, ICT markets
need to be opened.
Today, I believe we have the excellent
opportunity and the pleasure to show again our willingness
to participate actively in achieving our common goal – the
creation of a truly inclusive Information Society – by
having a candidate for the office of Secretary-General of
the ITU, Mr Matthias Kurth. It is my honour to confirm to
you that Mr Kurth has the full support of the German
government for his candidacy to this important post. And I
am particularly happy to announce that he is the elected
European candidate of the CEPT-countries.
I appreciate that this summit brings
together actors from governments, the civil society and the
Let us improve our activities by
following a multi-stakeholder approach in order to bridge
the digital divide.
III. Internet governance
The internet has become an essential and
vital infrastructure for global communications and commerce.
The success is based on flexible structures, which must be
open for future needs.
Having it’s historic roots in the public
sector, the Internet has become a huge success in all areas
of society. Therefore, safeguarding the stability and
security of the Internet is essential for the global
We believe that long-term stability can
only be achieved if the global management of the Internet
core resources is based on participation. Therefore I
appreciate the results of the PrepCom yesterday evening as a
All stakeholders – governments, business
as well as civil society – must have a change to take part
in global Internet governance in a fair and balanced manner.
It’s by no means the role of government
to interfere in the day-to-day operations of all those many
entities that make sure that the Net is reliable. But with
regard to outstanding public policy issues, and this
includes the difficult question of oversight structures,
governments have to exercise the role the citizens – "users"
– have given to them.
However, necessary government involvement
has to be lightweight, transparent, inclusive, and in full
respect of the specific needs of the Internet.
IV. Information society Germany
On the basis of targeted national action
plans, Germany has progressed on the way to the global
The exhibitions and presentations at our
German exhibition booth at the "ICT for All" exhibition
provide an overview of German activities.
I hope the Summit will be a great success
– please feel free to contact us. As in the past, the German
Government is ready to share its experience and engage in an
exchange of views.