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geert lovink on Wed, 1 Oct 2003 16:01:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> wsis digest no.1

World Summit on Information Society
Nettime Digest, no. 1, October 1, 2003

0. BBC: Sharp Divisions at Preperation Meeting
1. ITU press release
2. AMARC: Community media groups call for empowerment agenda at WSIS
3. Mosaic newsletter
4. Tunisia and WSIS
5. Monika Ermert: Dog fight over World Summit of The Information Society
6. Cusco Declaration
7. APC/CRIS Book on WSIS
8. HRIC Excluded From World Summit On the Information Society


0. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3148356.stm

Sharp divisions over how to bridge the digital divide between rich and poor
have emerged ahead of a UN summit on the issue in December. Delegates were
unable to settle their differences after two weeks of talks in Geneva. Many
of the poorer countries want the richer nations to provide extra money to
help more people get on the net. Delegates are now due to meet again in
Geneva in mid-November to try to iron out their differences. The UN sees
technology as a must for developing nations to help them educate citizens,
make them healthier and escape poverty.

It has organised the World Summit on the Information Society, (WSIS), to
come up with a global plan to ensure everyone has access to information and
communications technologies. But talks designed to come up with a plan of
action have revealed big differences between the rich and poor countries.
One of the main sticking points was over who should pay for technology
projects in the developing world. The other stumbling blocks that emerged
are over the place of human rights in the final declaration and how the
internet itself should be governed.

Western countries such as the US see freedom of expression as a key part of
an information society. But this is a sensitive subject in many countries
such as China, which has a different idea of what a free media means.
Concerns about human rights are shared by non-government groups, represented
under the banner of Civil Society. The grouping brings together a variety of
trade unions, social movements and other lobby groups. "If governments
continue to exclude our principles, we will not lend legitimacy to the final
official WSIS documents," said the Civil Society group in a statement.


1. WSIS e-card: World Summit on Information Society (WSIS): "Connecting the

The Summit breaks new ground with a multi-stakeholder approach. PrepCom3
introduced a format for the Summit that provides for unprecedented
stakeholder participation. Representatives of stakeholder groups will
participate with Head of States and Governments at roundtable sessions and
will have an opportunity to report directly to the Plenary about their
Summit-related activities.

"The importance of communications and access to networks is no longer just a
technical matter, but a fundamental policy goal for every nation", said Mr
Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU.

Adama Samassékou, President of the Preparatory Committee, asked the
participants to move from "input to impact" in working towards the
construction of a real "world summit of solidarity".

Some 1,600 delegates from UN Member States, intergovernmental organizations,
civil society, the private sector and media attended PrepCom3.

For "Highlights" of PrepCom3, please click here
For an overview of the results of PrepCom3, please click here

Best Regards;



2. AMARC-World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters

26 September 2003

Community media groups call for empowerment agenda at WSIS

Community media and other civil society organisations have called on
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to ensure the World Summit
on the Information Society gives priority to empowerment of the poorest
people and communities in the world including support for traditional
and community-based communications media.

The outcome of the Third Preparatory Committee meeting for the World
Summit on the Information Society has been deeply dissatisfying for many
NGOs and civil society organisations involved in community-based media
and communications.

The low profile of traditional communications media in the draft
documents and the absence of clear linkages between the proposed ICT
infrastructure targets and internationally agreed development goals is
leading many civil society groups to question the real commitment to
development at the forthcoming UN World Summit.

The present draft Declaration and Action Plan gives priority to the
infrastructure for Internet connectivity whilst failing to address the
fundamental barriers of electricity supply, literacy and equipment costs
which will exclude the world's poorest people.

Much is promised by the information society but the world's poorest
communities face the danger of being left out by a vastly unequal access
to the global communications environment. Access to basic education and
electricity are required before the world's poorest people can benefit
from new ICTs. More than half the world's population still lack reliable
access to electricity. Basic literacy skills are lacking for 20 per cent
of the world's population, especially women and girls.

The most widespread communications technologies remain the traditional
media, particularly radio. Community-based communications media have a
crucial role to play in enabling participation, strengthening cultural
diversity, promoting gender equality and supporting a more just and
equitable information society that includes the voices of the poor and
the marginalised.

AMARC International Secretariat:
T. +1 514 982 0351
E. amarc {AT} amarc.org


3. Mosaic Newsletter (via Steve Cisler)


Mosaic 2, August 2003 - A Synthesis of Civil Society debates on the
information society. Since July 2003, the WFCN publishes Mosaic, a
presenting an overview of the discussions on the information society,
especially on the WSIS process. The objective is to present different
cultural and linguistic (English, French and Spanish) perspectives  using
about a dozen of civil society discussion lists and websites.  This second
issue covers the preparation period for PrepCom 3 and is available in
English, Spanish and French.


4. Tunisia and WSIS
Petition at the initiative of the WSIS Human Rights Caucus
September 26, 2003

The WSIS Human Rights caucus publishes today a petition regarding the
venue of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information
Society in Tunis in 2005, and the nomination of a highly controversed
personnality as president of the organizing committee.

The text of the petition reminds that "the two principal objectives of
the Summit, that is to say the struggle to overcome the digital divide
and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the
information and communication society, cannot be dissociated from each
other", and demands that "the holding of the second phase of the Summit
in Tunis is subordinated to concrete signs by Tunisia that it respects
human rights and fundamental freedoms, specially:
- the freeing of journalists and others held in prison for their
opinions in Tunisia
- the appointment of a personality who is not the object of opprobrium
at the head of the organizing committee of the second phase of the
- the commitment to allow all civil society representatives from
Tunisia and abroad to participate freely in the work of the Summit".

The WSIS Human Rights caucus has expressed its deep concerns with this
regard during WSIS PrepCom3 in Geneva (15-26 September 2003) to many
governmental delegations, including the group of European Union member
States and accessing countries during a meeting organized with European
civil society organizations.

This petition is published while the criminal complaint jointly lodged
by the OMCT (World Organization Against Torture) and TRIAL (Track
Impunity Always) has been shelved by the Canton of Geneva's General
Prosecutor, with the motivation that "Article 12 of the headquarters
agreement, which was signed in July 1971 by the Swiss Confederation and
the International Telecommunications Union (which is holding the
summit), provides immunity from arrest and detention for state
representatives to the ITU". See the joint communique on the website of
OMCT, a member of the Human Rights caucus (http://www.omct.org).

The text of the petition, with the list of first signatory
organizations, is available in English, French and Spanish on the Human
Rights Caucus website: http://www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/smsi/hr-wsis

The WSIS Human Rights caucus is pursuing the collection of signatures,
from all the organisations concerned with the respect of human rights
and fundamental freedoms, and of their major importance in an
information and communication society.

Press Contact in Geneva: Christine Ferrier, OMCT, cf {AT} omct.org, Tél: 00
41 22 809 49 39
Send signatures to Rikke Frank Jorgensen, DIHR, rfj {AT} humanrights.dk Web
site: http://www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/smsi/hr-wsis



Dog fight over World Summit of The Information Society

By Monika Ermert
Posted: 27/09/2003 at 21:06 GMT

Geneva Prepcom-III was supposed to be the final preparatory conference
for the UN's World Summit of The Information Society (WSIS) which takes
place in December 10-12 in Geneva. All the loose ends should have been
tied up yesterday when Prepcom-III, also held in Geneva, closed after
two weeks of negotiation.

Now organisers have hastily reconvened another meeting for November
aimed at breaking the deadlock over the drafting of two key documents.
If the impasse is unresolved, WSIS looks wrecked, and it is very
unlikely that many heads of state will tip up in Geneva only to be
associated with failure.

Difficulties were to be expected from a meeting that for the first time
sought to articulate a common vision of the Information Society, says
Adama Samassekou. But the complete mess that was produced at
Prepcom-III, was a bit too much even for the tireless Prepcom-President
of WSIS.

Neither of the two core documents, the Declaration of Principles and the
Action Plan, which are supposed to be signed by head of states in
December when WSIS proper convenes, could be finalised after two weeks
of lengthy discussions. "Still we have made progress," said Samassekou,
"in the sense that we now know what are the points on which we do not

The expectations in the Summit, promoted by the preliminary text of the
Declaration of Principles, are high, promoting information and
communication technology as the tool to achieve "eradication of poverty
and hunger" and "attainment of a more peaceful, just and prosperous
world." But there is a wide gulf of opinion over how this is to be
achieved, with the governments of the North and South, the 500-plus
participating Civil Society members (representing NGOs from around the
world) and private sector representatives competing to have their say.

What the World needs Now

"The world needs to move to overcome the Digital Divide," said the head
of the delegation from Tunisia, host country of WSIS 2, scheduled for
2005. Bringing ICT to the poor countries of the South shall help build
up the Information Society for all and at the same time stop and revert
the situation where rich countries get richer while the poor get poorer.
The UN's Millennium Declaration is the blueprint for the ambitious goals
of WSIS, highlighted by the fact that the UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan is main steward of the WSIS process.

But rich countries - possible donors - are sceptical about the "Digital
Solidarity fund" proposed by Senegal's president at Prepcom-2. "We need
some new ways of direct financing for ICT projects, but not necessarily
another UN Fund," said Marc Furrer, director of Offcom, Switzerland's
telecoms regulator. Here lies one of the major disputes of the Summit
process, that Samassekou and his International Telecoms Union
ITU)-staffed bureau and host country Switzerland must tackle.

For Western countries, protection of critical infrastructure and freedom
of expression are much sexier topics. "Free Media are essential in a
Information Society," declared a US delegate at the conference. But the
media paragraphs in the documents have as many empty square brackets as
a Swiss cheese has holes. "Pluralistic and free" media and access for
them to information are not welcomed in many countries. "We deal with
different versions of what we call freedom or freedom of expression,"
said Samassekou.

The media discussion was highlighted in a hot debate about the situation
of press freedom in Tunisia. Representatives from the very active Media
Caucus of the Prepcom have according to one speaker already demanded the
replacement of a top Tunisian official in charge of organizing the
summit in Tunisia.

"I am personally convinced of one thing, that nothing over time can
prevent the desire of people to live and to express themselves," said
Samassekou, "modalities may be diverse." He hopes to overcome the media
and human rights questions for free access by referring to existing
documents. But while China in any case prefers to have the dominance of
national law regimes mentioned, the US leans on the other site in adding
"consistent with the need to preserve the free flow of information" to
possibly restrictive paragraphs.

Changing alliances

While Civil Society representatives found common cause with western
governments with regard to media freedoms, on the other hand, they
blamed them for yielding to industry interests over intellectual
property rights. Against interventions from the Business Sector -
represented mainly through the International Chamber of Commerce - they
argued for a balancing of interests.

"When asked why he could see so far, Sir Isaac Newton replied that he
was standing on the shoulders of giants. Imagine a world where those
giants refuse to let him stand on their shoulders," said Georg Greve,
president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, in one of the five
minute slots that civil society representatives were given before
governments started negotiating. Yet this road would be taken by barring
access through layers of copyright regimes. After the end of Prepcom
Greve said he was satisfied that Free Software is now integrated in the
Draft Declaration and Action Plan as at least "equally valuable software

Free Software and a balanced role of copyright protection were heavily
in the interest of developing countries, argued civil society
participants from the North in debates with their counterparts from
Southern countries, who warned against concentrating on expert problems.

  In general the participatory role of the Civil Society in the WSIS is
still very experimental and unsatisfactory from the point of view of the
Civil Society members. "There was one moment in the second week when
Civil Society members were on the verge of withdrawing from the whole
process," says Karen Banks from APC.

The sentiment was that promises to accept not input and impact from the
NGOs were not materializing, voices from the Civil Society were not
heard, and the common vision had been completely lost. In the small
drafting groups the possibility to participate were unpredictable for
the NGOs. Sometimes they could make a five minute statement and even
stay for the discussions, sometimes they were banned. By the end of
Prepcom, Civil Society members were undecided about how far they should
disassociate themselves from the official process;  the press statement
was reworded several times.

Members of the German Civil Society were outspoken in their criticism:
"Governments listen", they wrote, "or leave us alone in the Information
Age." In any case the Civil Society started to work on their vision
document, which they want to present to WSIS in December. In other words
there could be competing declarations floating around the conference/

Stake in the Ground

Samassekou noted that Prepcom-III was an intergovernmental process in
which the United Nations had for the first time opened up to observers.
He hoped that the new "multistakeholder" approach would act as model for
the overall reform of UN working procedures.

Samassekou's more immediate problem is in getting agreement over the
wording of the documents. On Friday afternoon the highly controversial
topic of Internet Governance was unexpectedly raised again by the
delegations of Kenya and China and the US. At that point Samassekou
could be forgiven for fearing that the process could collapse. Kenya,
China and other countries such as Brazil favour a reform of the
management of global Internet resources, namely domain names, root
servers and IP addresses. But the US and to some extent the EU countries
support the current US-backed private model and don't want to see the
ITU involved.

"We are very, very, very far from a consensus - not only in Internet
Governance issues," said a member of the Egypt delegation who had first
brought up the idea of a stronger international grip on the root server


From: "Graham Seaman" <graham {AT} seul.org>

Cusco - Perú from August 11 to 13, 2003, recognize:

# That Free Software is an integral part of the building of a free, fair,
ethical and inclusive society, where people have the opportunity to help
each other in mutual solidarity.

# That Free Software respects the need to preserve multilingualism and
cultural identities in cyberspace.

# That the freedoms given to free software users make it easier for them
to become active participants of the knowledge society and not just
consumers of technology.

# That the license policy of proprietary software is not sustainable for
the economies of developing countries.

# That the license model of free software represents an oportunity to
achieve equality of rights in the area of technology, reducing the digital
divide and helping users with fewer economic resources.

# That the development that free software has achieved and the potential
that it represents, is a clear demonstration that it has a strategic role
in creating a knowledge and information society.

# That the training of human resources with free, fair, ethical and
thought is a basic requirement for society, and free software is an
example of these values.

Hence, we invite the international comunity, in particular govermments and
civil society, including the media, to bear in mind during the preparatory
work for and the realization of the World Summit on the Information
Society, the following:

* To recognize, take on board, and promote the advantages of the use and
development of free software, as an integral part of building a knowledge
and information society.

* To create within states the political conditions for research and
training which favour the appearance and adoption of measures encouraging
the free flow of software techniques, algorithms, services, formats,
protocols and other requirements of a sustainable and just knowledge and
information society.

* To promote legislative norms within the vision of a new legal
international paradigm in favour of the use and development of free
software. In the construction of this new context there shall not exist
barriers to the development of programs which respect the four principles
which constitute the pillars of free software.

* To give priority to free software in education and health to achieve a
scientific training as well as values of ethics and unity.

* To guarantee the adoption of publicly available standards which can be
implemented by free software in the infrastructures of both public
services and networks.

* To use the advantages of free software to guarantee the security,
privacy and perenniality of information, especially in relation to
critical infrastructure.

* To guarantee the training of human resources as support for the
development of the information society and in particular of free software.

* To develop innovative mechanisms with international community support,
aimed at entry to the knowledgment and information society by developing
countries in equal conditions. That the treaties for economic cooperation
and integration will be updated within this perspective.

Cusco, August 13 2003


7. Sender: apcnews-admin {AT} lists.apc.org
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 10:47:32 -0300


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, September 24 2003 - "There is little doubt that
access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) is
expanding, yet this process excludes the majority of people in
developing countries.  Many who do have access are unable to use it
freely to promote their social, economic and political interests. When
people gain access to these technologies, it is mostly as consumers,
rather than owners or creators.  The growing concentration of ownership
and control of ICT can limit its remarkable potential for social
empowerment," says APC in a new book launched last week at the third
preparatory conference (PrepCom) in the run-up to the first ever United
Nations world conference on the information society.

At the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS),
to be held in Geneva in December, governments will agree on a
declaration and action plan that could enhance or hinder access to ICTs
for the vast majority of the world's population. The Association for
Progressive Communications (APC) and the CRIS Campaign have been
following the WSIS process and their publication - "Involving Civil
Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the Information Society" -
highlights some of the principal issues at stake.

"The information society, we are told, is a promise to all the peoples
of the world of untold benefits and promises for our future however the
reality is often much closer to a nightmare," says CRIS Campaign
Coordinator, Myriam Horngren. "As our mass media become more and more
sanitised and commodified, our airspace sold to the highest bidders, our
common knowledge and creativity get fenced off, we fear that the
information society is solely promoting the expansion of corporate
control at people's expense."

Who is this book for?

This book is aimed at people who want to advocate for more just and
enabling policy environments. It is designed to build awareness of and
capacity to engage in ICT policy-making spaces at international,
regional and national levels, including the WSIS.

What does the book include?

Published in English, French and Spanish, the book includes a basic
orientation to the WSIS for non-governmental and non-commercial
participants as well as information about the CRIS campaign. It outlines
APC's perspectives on the WSIS which emerged from broad discussions and
consultations with APC members and other civil society groups from
Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.  It also includes the
views of the members of the APC Women's Networking Support Programme,
and draws on the collaborative work of CRIS and APC with other networks.
Key issues (including a reflection on the term 'information society',
intellectual property rights, and spectrum allocation) is covered by the
CRIS campaign.  A practical 12-page guide to organising a national ICT
policy consultation developed by APC accompanies the book.


"Involving Civil Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the
Information Society" has been compiled by the Association of Progressive
Communications (APC) and the Campaign for Communication Rights in the
Information Society (CRIS). It is part of our combined efforts to ensure
that communication and internet rights are upheld and protected as
fundamental rights throughout the world.


APC: The Association for Progressive Communications is an international
network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and
support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through
the use of information and communication technologies for social
justice, development and environmental sustainability. APC's vision is
of a world in which all people have equal and affordable access to the
creative potential of ICTs to improve their lives and create more
democratic and egalitarian societies.  APC is a founding member of CRIS.

CRIS Campaign: Communications Rights in the Information Society (CRIS)
is an international campaign to ensure that communication rights are
central to the information society and to the upcoming World Summit to
the Information Society. The campaign is sponsored and supported by the
Platform for Communication Rights, a group of non-governmental
organisations involved in media and communication around the world.
www.crisinfo.org For additional information about CRIS activities during
the Summit itself, visit the World Forum on Communication Rights'
website: http://www.communicationrights.org. The Forum will take place
on December 11 in parallel to the WSIS.


Karen Banks
APC WSIS Coordinator
Tel: +44 7712 553 582
Email: karenb {AT} gn.apc.org

Myriam Horngren
CRIS Advocacy and Network Coordinator
Tel: +44 777 185 6091
Email: mh {AT} wacc.org.uk

Ms Banks and Horngren are currently attending WSIS PrepCom III and are
available for interviews.

Graphics available: contact khiggs {AT} apc.org


8. HRIC Excluded From World Summit On the Information Society

September 18, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC), the only organization devoted exclusively to
human rights issues in China, has been denied accreditation to the World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) scheduled for Geneva in December.

The failure to include HRIC in the upcoming WSIS raises serious concerns
about the transparency and legitimacy of this multilateral process and any
meeting that purports to encourage the broadest possible participation. HRIC
has called on the Executive Secretariat of WSIS to explain the reasons for
this decision.

HRIC, an international human rights NGO, has a 15-year record for promoting
freedom of expression and the peaceful expansion of civil society. HRIC is
an active contributor to international dialogues and processes, including
recent accreditation as an NGO observer at the World Trade Organization
Fifth Ministerial meeting held in Cancun last week.

In August the Executive Secretariat of WSIS confirmed that HRIC's
application was timely and complete, and that it had been sent for review to
the government missions. Following review by the missions, HRIC was not
included on the list recommended for accreditation.

HRIC feels rejection of its application to attend WSIS raises the following
serious concerns about the multilateral process:

Inclusion of civil society entities: The official Arrangements for
participation require that "the applicant is competent and its activities
relevant to the work of the Summit." HRIC's mission focuses on promoting
free expression and right to information. Our programs are directly
connected to WSIS's work, in particular our expanded Web initiative
promoting human rights, freedom of expression and the uncensored flow of
information into and out of China.

WSIS has the stated goal of examining, among other issues, ways to "protect
the free flow of information and communication," "promote open and
informative media, freedom of opinion and expression, and diversity of
content and culture," and "stress the role of press freedom in the context
of democracy and good governance." The review process by missions should not
be turned into a mechanism for censorship and exclusion of independent NGO

Transparency: The list of NGOs and civil society entities recommended for
accreditation to WSIS is dated August 22, 2003, but to date HRIC has
received no direct communications from the Executive Secretariat regarding
the decision, the basis for the decision or any possible avenue for appeal.
HRIC and other civil society groups excluded should be informed about which
specific missions raised objections, what those objections were, or whether
there were other reasons for the exclusion of a particular group.

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