African Civil Society and the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)

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BACKGROUND:

The World Summit on Information Society commonly referred to as WSIS, provides a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to assemble at a high-level gathering and to develop a better understanding of the information revolution and its impact on the international community.

It aims to bring together Heads of State, Executive Heads of United Nations agencies, industry leaders, non-governmental organizations, media representatives and civil society in a single high-level event. The roles of the various partners (Member States, UN specialized agencies, private sector and civil society) in ensuring smooth coordination of the practical establishment of the information society around the globe will also be at the heart of the Summit and its preparation.

The anticipated outcome of the Summit is to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals of the Information Society, while fully reflecting all the different interests at stake.

The first phase of WSIS will take place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. The second phase will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

More information on the WSIS and process can be found on the following website: http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.html

How does the process work?

The WSIS is an initiative of the International Telecommunications Union (IT) and the United Nations (UN). Preparation for WSIS consists of Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) and Regional meetings. The African Regional Conference was held in Bamako, Mali from 26-30 May, 2002. Other meetings have been held since then covering all regions of the world. The first Preparatory Committee meeting was held in Geneva in 2002 with the second one recently held in Febraury 2003.

The Third Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for WSIS (PrepCom-3) will take place in Geneva from 15 to 26 September 2003, following an Intersessional Period between PrepCom-2 and PrepCom-3.

The Intersessional period will be dedicated to refining the working documents for the Draft Declaration of Principles and Draft Action Plan.

Why should Africa Civil Society Organisations become involved?

The resolutions that are adopted at the meetings of the WSIS will have a profound impact on Africa's development. It is important for African Civil society organizations to drive the process in a way that will benefit everyone in society and will not reinforce the development divide between rich and poor nations. If we get involved now, then we have the opportunity to help set the agenda for the future of the Information Society.

The Africa civil society caucus of the WSIS was initiated at PrepCom1 and has continued discussing areas of concern around the agenda of themes of the WSIS. According to one of the African caucus representatives, of the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor Project, Emmanuel Njenga Njuguna, the aim of the African caucus over the coming months is to strengthen African participation in the upcoming Prepcoms by being well prepared for making inputs. See details about the caucus and how to join here >> .

How is the APC getting involved?

The APC Africa Policy Monitor Project aims to initiate a process of awareness-raising, training and supporting African Civil Society Organisations that wish to add their voices to the WSIS process. The APC's involvement in WSIS hinges on the belief that every person in society has a right to communicate - we believe that the process of building the Information Society should be developed around this goal. The APC is also involved in the Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) campaign which aims to ensure that communication rights are central to the information society and WSIS. The Information Society that interests CRIS and APC is based on principles of transparency, diversity, participation and social and economic justice, and inspired by equitable gender, cultural and regional perspectives.

 

 

     

 

 

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 will be the culmination of a process of global discussion and harmonization in order for all the countries of the world to come together to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals of the Information Society.

The Summit is being held under the high patronage of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, with the International Telecommunication Union taking the lead role, in cooperation with other interested UN agencies, and will occur in two phases:

- Geneva 2002. First Phase

The first phase of the World Summit will take place in Geneva hosted by the
Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. It will address the
broad range of themes concerning the Information Society and adopt a Declaration of Principles and plan of action, addressing the whole range of
issues related to the Information Society.

- Tunis 2005: Second Phase

The second phase of the World Summit will take place in Tunis hosted by the
Government of Tunisia, in 2005. Development themes will be a key focus in
this phase, and it will assess progress that has been made and adopt any further plan of action to be taken.

 

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