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<nettime> 2nd civil society statement to WSIS plenary, Tunis
Sasha Costanza-Chock on Sat, 26 Jun 2004 07:10:38 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 2nd civil society statement to WSIS plenary, Tunis

Victoria Cabrera-Balleza
ISIS International Manila

Statement to WSIS PrepCom Plenary
June 25, 2004

At the conclusion of the first phase of this World Summit the
international community agreed a vision and objectives, in the
Declaration of Principles, which are framed around the Millennium
Development Goals and other internationally agreed objectives for
sustainable development. In doing so the Geneva Summit committed to the
challenge of creating an information and communications environment
oriented towards the achievement of a world free of poverty and hunger.

In 2005 the Tunis Summit will coincide with the first five-year review
of international progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
Governments and multilateral institutions will measure the results of
the WSIS process on the basis of its contribution to the achievement of
universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and women's
empowerment, reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal
health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and ensuring
environmental sustainability and development of global partnerships for

These are key targets against which action and implementation must be

We all acknowledge that ICTs can make a contribution to poverty
alleviation and the realization of all human rights, including the right
to development, health, education, and information thereby enabling
developing countries to participate as equal partners in the global
information and communication society. But our efforts are largely
failing and the so-called 'digital-divide' is in fact expanding.

The model that relies primarily on international private investment to
achieve those goals is not working. Markets only provide services for
those who can afford them; governments are unable to correct market
failures due to imposed constraints including external debt and IMF
conditionalities that limit their investments in infrastructure;
investment agreements constrain the delivery of public services and
intellectual property regimes make technology transfers unaffordable.

These contradictions have been most obviously exposed in the case of
efforts to reduce mortality from HIV/AIDS where the basic right of
patients to life has been restricted by international trade rules to
protect the intellectual property of manufacturers of the medicines
vital for effective treatment.

Despite these failures, the Action Plan agreed in Geneva, relies to a
large extent on a false logic. It assumes that investment in information
and communication technology products, services and applications, will
by itself contribute to the achievement of development goals. It
assumes, that setting targets for rolling out the ICT infrastructure,
will automatically lead to alleviation of poverty.

Civil society has a different perspective on the priorities for action
needed to achieve the development goals and objectives set out in the
Declaration of Principles.

We believe policies and investment must be effective from the ground-up.

People and communities must themselves be enabled to take action to
improve their lives and conditions. Civil society initiatives and
community-driven development projects must be supported and encouraged
through improvements to the policy and regulatory environment for access
to information and to the means of communications and through investment
in traditional as well as new communication technologies.

WSIS II can be of enormous help in identifying the national and
international obstacles and the action which is needed to address them.

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