It is my honour to address you once again as we close the
World Summit on the Information Society.
It has been a long road and seven years since that chilly
late night session in Minneapolis when the ITU Plenipotentiary
Conference adopted the resolution that gave birth to WSIS. It is
fitting that this stage of our journey ends here in Tunis, the
capital of the country that launched this process.
An enormous amount of effort has brought us to this point.
Six preparatory committee meetings, eleven regional and
sub-regional conferences, 29 WSIS Thematic Meetings and many
other conferences related to WSIS have been held.
Some 29 different countries have hosted Summit-related events
and hundreds of thousands of delegates have participated.
Has the effort been worth it?
At the outset, many were sceptical about WSIS. There are
those who view UN Summits as vestiges of the last century.
But I am firmly convinced that WSIS has been worth every
step. Working together we have created a Summit with a
difference: a Summit of Solutions.
WSIS has been built, from the start, on a multi-stakeholder
approach. The private sector, civil society and international
organizations, have been given the opportunity to express their
views, alongside governments, at virtually every stage of the
This is a big leap forward for UN Summits. While I know that
the civil society and private sector observers would like an
even bigger part, I believe we can all agree that WSIS has set a
new model for inclusiveness and one that is particularly
relevant in the age of the Internet.
WSIS has also been a Summit that cuts across many issues in
an attempt to find the best means to adapt our society to the
opportunity offered by new forms and technologies of
In a very real sense, WSIS is about making the best use of a
new opportunity and a new tool. The Information Society can be a
win-win situation for all, provided that we take the right
actions. WSIS reinforces the value of global dialogue and
cooperation to address emerging issues in the 21st
WSIS was also organized in an entirely new manner, with a
separate Executive Secretariat composed of experts detached from
the different stakeholder groups. In that way, not only
governments, but civil society and the private sector
participated directly in the preparation of the Summit.
It was largely self-financed. No money was provided by the UN
General Assembly and the ITU governing bodies made only a modest
financial contribution. Most of the cost, particularly of the
PrepComs, was supported by voluntary contributions. I am
grateful to the many governments and organizations that made
donations to the WSIS Fund and to those who made in-kind
contributions to support the preparations of the Geneva and
Tunis phases. I would like to take this opportunity to thank
each of them.
For governments, I extend my special appreciation to:
Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Canada,
Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Holy See, Italy, Japan, the
Republic of Korea, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Namibia,
Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda,
Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, the Sultanate of Oman,
Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab
International organisations have also been active in
supporting the preparations. I would particularly like to thank
ITU, ArabSat, the European Commission, ILO, ISESCO, WMO, UNESCO,
UNFCU, UNITAR, UNDP, the United Nations, and especially the UN
in Geneva, as well as the UPU, for their contributions.
In addition, I would like to thank civil society and private
sector organizations for their financial and in-kind support,
including: IINAS, OTEF, Intel, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, RealNetworks,
Net Display Systems, Togo Telecom and Vivendi Universal.
Uniquely, WSIS was a Summit held in two phases. Through this
approach, WSIS took place both in one developed and one
developing country. This helped to ensure that the full range of
issues of the Information Society were addressed, while
highlighting the critical need to bridge the Digital Divide. The
two-phase process has enabled us to develop a concrete plan for
implementation, at the national, regional and international
levels. This will ensure that the commitments that we undertake
So what have we accomplished?
At the beginning of this process, no one knew what the key
issues of the Summit were. Much of the early days were spent on
shaping and refining the agenda.
In Geneva, world leaders crystallized this process in the
Declaration, which sets out eleven key principles and action
lines. In the Plan of Action, we set out critical targets to
connect the World by 2015 and set in motion a process to deal
with unresolved issues. These were:
Implementation and follow-up;
Financing Mechanisms; and
I am pleased to note that implementation is already in full
More than 2’500 project have already been entered in the
stocktaking database, and many more have been launched during
the Tunis Phase. Many countries have informed us of their
national e-readiness strategies.
I am pleased today that we now have the Tunis Commitment and
Tunis Agenda for the Information Society to guide us in our
As a result of the Summit, world leaders are now fully aware
of the importance of ICTs to national development, of the
critical role that these new tools can play in modernizing their
society and they have realized that ICTs are not only about
technology, but also about people and their potential.
Mr. Chairman, a successful Summit is built on the efforts of
thousands of people, and I want to close by thanking them.
I should begin with a word of thanks to you Mr. President and
through you to the people of Tunisia who have worked so hard to
make the arrangements and to all the members of your team who
over the past two years have strived for the success of this
Summit. I wish to thank specially Minister Ouali, Mr. Habib
Ammar, Chairman of the Tunisia Organising Committee of the
Summit, its Secretary-General Mr. Mohamed Hadj-Taieb, and their
I also wish to express my appreciation once again to the
government of Switzerland for hosting the Geneva phase of the
Summit and to all the members of the Swiss team.
I also thank the ITU membership, the ITU Council and the
Council Working Group on WSIS for their support in this process
and their invaluable guidance along the way.
I wish to offer special thanks to the President of the
PrepCom process, Ambassador Janis Karklins as well as to
Chairmen of Sub-Committees, Working Groups and others.
I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Geneva missions and
their active participation in the Bureau of the Preparatory
Finally, I express my appreciation to the staff of ITU and
Executive secretariat of WSIS. I cannot name them all, but
organizing two phases of a Summit in two years is an
unprecedented achievement in the UN system. This required many
long nights and personal sacrifices and I have been blessed with
an ITU secretariat that has weathered every challenge.
In closing Mr. President, let us remember that the road does
not end here in Tunis.
Even as we close the Summit, we face the critical challenge
to continue by our actions and leadership to advance towards
achieving the goals and objectives we committed to in Geneva and
Let us now make an inclusive information society a reality.
Thank you all.