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Civil Society Statement on Information and Communication Solidarity Funding Mechanisms

09/26/2003, : WSIS

Submitted by the Content and Themes Subcommittee with inputs from those present at the South-South and Friends of the South Meeting WSIS Prep Com 3, 25 September 2003

Civil Society from the North joins Civil Society from the South in supporting a solidarity approach to the overall discussion of information society. For purposes of this statement, we addressed ICT actions and initiatives for global development.

We believe that an appropriate funding approach is one that links social solidarity to digital solidarity, both for existing as well as new funding mechanisms.

For both new and existing mechanisms, we believe that serious consideration should be given to the following concerns:

Mechanisms for the distribution and implementation of such funds must be fully transparent and accountable, and ensure that the funds will reach the people who need them. The cost of administering the fund need to be kept to a minimum.

1. Fair rules for distributing international telecom charges based on solidarity must be re-established.
2. Funding must not lead to further indebtedness and dependency to unequal trade relations, nor to privatization and deregulation. Funding must not lead to further reinforcing private and public monopolies.
3. Contributions to any newly established fund must reflect a multi-stakeholder participation, providing contributions from governments and the private and commercial sector as well as from citizens.
4. Funds must be managed and administered by people of the South.
5. Gender parity must exist in all such mechanisms and all spheres and in all levels of decision-making and implementation.
6. Funding mechanisms

* Should not be established under the simplistic notion that digital divides can be redressed mainly by addressing issues of infrastructure or connectivity. They must be accompanied by funding for education, applications, content, and dissemination.
* In order to ensure that the funds actually reach the most marginalized, mechanisms need to be set up to ensure distribution of these funds take into account intersectionality of race, class gender, ethnicity and other lines of discrimination.
* Must address traditional and community media, not only the Internet. It should take into full account low-end but appropriate technology, including indigenous knowledges.
* Must also be used to promote cultural and linguistic diversity.
* Must support technological sustainability, including the use and production of free software and the fostering of user-centered technology development practices.

For more information on this statement, contact: Susanna George <susanna@isiswomen.org>.

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