Michael Gurstein on Thu, 12 Sep 2002 15:21:23 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: [Secretariat] comments urgently needed

Below, please find attached a draft copy of a document prepared by CRIS, the
Communications Rights group which is taking a leadership role on behalf of
Civil Society concerning participation in the World Summit on the
Information Society.

A key meeting will be held in Geneva in mid-September to set the agenda for
this Summit which will be taking place in two parts but initially in Geneva
in December 2003.

To this point, no facilities are available to allow for broader
public/electronic input either into the development of the Civil Society
position or of the overall Summit itself (a subject of some contention among
many since not allowing an electronic voice to the broader concerned
community in a discussion on electronically mediated (information) societal
developments seems a rather cruel paradox).  Hopefully, this anomaly will be
appropriately resolved quickly.

In the meantime, it may be useful to open the opportunity for discussion in
the multiple current electronic arenas where there might be an interest.

I'm assuming that the primary foci for CRIS--Bruce Girard
<bgirard@comunica.org>; and Sean O'Siorchu <sean@nexus.ie> or other NGO's
with an active interest in Information Society related issues might be
interested in receiving feedback on this document or other issues related to
the WSIS.

(My apologies for sending this out to multiple e-lists... However, the
significance of the document and of the WSIS overall is such as to impact on
a wide variety of specialized areas within our "electronic communities".


Mike Gurstein

>Document WSIS/CSS/SCT-6 (Draft Proposal version 2)
>September 8, 2002
>Original: English
>Civil Society Segment Sub-Committee on Content and Themes
>Input to the Informal Meeting on Content & Themes
>16 - 18 September 2002
>The undersigned civil society organizations are contributing the following
>proposals for the agenda of the World Summit on the Information Society
>(WSIS), Geneva, December 2003.
>The WSIS offers an unprecedented opportunity for an in depth exchange
>among a wide range of stakeholders, that could lead to a better and more
>widely shared understanding of the very diverse challenges and
>opportunities for human development posed by the "Information Society", as
>well as to identify possible dangers.  This implies that human needs in
>the realm of information and communication, and the goals of human
>development, must be at the heart of the discussions.  Only if there are
>adequate opportunities to confront different perspectives will it be
>possible to achieve basic consensus on goals and strategies.  We
>understand that this is the spirit in which the Summit was convened.  In
>accordance with this spirit, we assume that the concerns and issues put
>forward by a wide range of civil society organizations will be taken into
>account in defining the agenda.
>We consider the following principles to be indispensable for the overall
>work of the Summit:
>Human rights are the basis for the WSIS. The Information Society must
>necessarily have people at its center.  Human rights must be the
>fundamental basis for consideration of all other principles, themes and
>possible outcomes within any UN-sponsored summit. This principle must be
>explicitly stated in the summit declaration.  Approaching the Information
>Society from a rights perspective implies putting human dignity above
>technological or commercial considerations.
>The WSIS should have a development orientation with the overall goal of
>meeting fundamental human and societal needs. ICTs are not an end unto
>themselves; they are tools for economic and social goals, such as poverty
>eradication. The goals of the WSIS, therefore, should be directed toward
>the meeting of fundamental human and societal needs, as articulated in the
>Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Millennium Declaration, and
>many other documents that have been adopted by member states.
>The WSIS should be oriented to ensuring that ICTs contribute to the goals
>of peace, conflict resolution, equality, sustainable development,
>reduction of poverty and health issues.
>The WSIS must recognize the universal right to communicate. Communication
>is a fundamental human need, indispensable to all social organization. A
>WSIS that makes human rights a guiding principle for all other thematic
>discussion must, therefore, take up the concept of communication as a
>universal human right.
>Communication -understood as a participative and interactive process
>essential to human coexistence- and information-sharing should be a
>central  thematic focus of the summit.  Technology should be at the
>service of these.
>People should be recognized in their full quality as citizens.  People are
>not just "consumers", nor "users" of technology or services.  The focus
>should be on people and the services they require, rather than on services
>and the people who use them.
>The WSIS should emphasize universal and inclusive access to the tools and
>benefits of the information society. The bridging of the digital divide to
>provide democratic access to information and ICTs in the information
>society should be a major focus of the summit. This includes recognition
>of not just the global North / South digital divide, but also recognition
>of enduring inequities in developed nations. Political and social barriers
>must be considered along with technical, educational, gender and economic
>Gender equality should be guaranteed in the Information Society. Gender
>equality goals and mainstream gender perspectives in all plans and
>preparations for WSIS and its follow up programs. All declarations and
>plans of WSIS must take into consideration their effect on women and
>ensure that the rights of women are promoted.
>Youth must be recognized as stakeholders. Contributions of youth in
>overall development of Information societies should be emphasized.
>Diverse realities and specific needs of different groups should be
>addressed. An approach should be adopted that addresses the diverse
>realities and specific needs of different social groups, including the
>preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity, marginalized groups,
>women, youth, older persons, indigenous peoples, the disabled, and people
>suffering from discrimination.
>A focus should be maintained on community-based initiatives. The
>broad-based partnership among stakeholders should pay specific attention
>to community-based initiatives.
>States should assume their political responsibilities in promoting an
>Information Society that puts people first.   It is not enough to seek
>partnerships with private business, if this means abdicating their
>responsibility towards the other sectors that make up society.
>The human ethical and social dimensions of each theme must be addressed in
>the declaration.
>  The technical, political and economic mechanisms and instruments
> necessary to implement each theme or proposed outcome must be addressed
> in the Plan of Action.
>Previous work on relevant issues should serve as a basis for future work,
>carried on by the civil society, governments and private sector.
>The WSIS should support broad-based partnerships among all stakeholders
>(i.e. member governments, civil society and the private sector).
>The outcomes of the WSIS must  give priority to the interests and needs of
>the population as a whole and particularly marginalized groups.
>The WSIS should be organized and held in a spirit of international
>Summit Outcomes
>For the outcomes of the Summit we propose:
>The development of a common vision and understanding of the information
>society, based on principles of human development and communication rights.
>The harnessing of the potential of knowledge and technology for promoting
>the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This includes
>development and poverty eradication, democracy and governance, our common
>heritage, and protecting the vulnerable and meeting the special needs of
>The agreement of specific quantified time bound targets to overcome the
>digital divide and to build an equitable Information Society that benefits
>all.  This will include universal access for all communities to affordable
>ICT services (including Internet access), with resources allocated for the
>achievements of these goals.
>The development of formal structures and processes for implementing the
>WSIS declaration, including the financing of projects. This includes the
>development of an interactive knowledge sharing platform for the results
>of the WSIS, including the development and linking of databases of best
>practices of donor and Civil Society projects.
>The promotion of urgently needed access by all of the world's inhabitants
>to information, knowledge and communication technologies for development.
>This must include the large-scale language translation of information to
>meet the linguistic diversity requirements of the information society, as
>well as the means for communities to build and share their own knowledge
>and contribute to ensuring the development of cultural diversity. This
>also includes making UN system and governmental information universally
>The facilitation of the study of best practices related to ICT projects of
>the past and the worldwide diffusion of lessons learned by stakeholders.
>To support the development by civil society of a collaborative network of
>open source technology tools.
>Taking into consideration the inputs to and results of PrepCom1 to this
>point, as well as the principles guiding the summit that we suggested
>above, we propose the following categories as a comprehensive framework
>for WSIS themes. In recognition of previous contributions and to provide
>continuity to the discussion of themes, we have preserved general thematic
>categories established in earlier WSIS documents.  Several new categories
>have been added and are denoted with "(N)". In the aggregate, we have
>attempted to represent in the content of each thematic category discussed
>below the totality of major issues articulated by all stakeholders in the
>WSIS process to this point.
>The Foundations of the Information Society (N)
>In this category, the WSIS would develop a shared definition and
>understanding of the information society: what is it, who and what
>purposes it should serve, and on what moral and ethical bases it should
>function. The primary emphasis here would be on defining the role of human
>rights in the information society in the context of the United Nations
>system.  Integral to this, the distinct roles of governments, civil
>society, and the private sector would also be established. The diverse
>realities of different types of communities in the information society
>would also be addressed here.
>Developing a Framework
>In this category, the WSIS would establish a shared understanding of how
>the information society should function, be regulated, and evolve.
>Functional themes would include education, addressing the needs of
>workers, facilitation of technical literacy, and the facilitation of
>commerce. Regulatory themes would include the following areas: data
>protection, privacy and network security, intellectual property rights,
>public domain and fair use, and the establishment of appropriate policy
>and market structures.  Themes addressing the evolution of the information
>society would include: Securing and extending Global commons as a major
>way of bridging the digital divide; sustainable and environmentally
>responsible development of ICTs; determining the appropriate use of new
>and traditional ICTs; capacity building in governments, civil society, and
>the private sector; financing and deployment; and examination of social
>and regulatory impacts of this framework. Recognizing participatory design
>as an indispensable tool ICT development, this category should also
>establish as an integral part of this framework a continuing process for
>the implementation and review of summit themes and principles, and
>mechanisms for the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of rights
>recognized in the information society by the WSIS.
>Knowledge Society
>In this category, the WSIS would address themes that recognize the
>creation and management of knowledge as the key benefit to humankind of
>the information society. Such themes would include: educational goals,
>distance learning, facilitating both formal and life-long learning, the
>development of information literacy, access to knowledge, support for
>cultural and linguistic diversity, and the needs of young people in the
>knowledge society. Capacity building in academia to support the knowledge
>society would also be addressed.
>Rights and Governance
>In this category, the WSIS would address the rights of all stakeholders in
>the information society at a level of detail greater than that in the
>Foundations category discussed above, as well as the particulars of
>governing the information society. Themes would include: democratic
>management of international bodies dealing with ICTs, including Internet
>governance; information and communication rights; privacy and security;
>censorship and regulation of content; the role of the media; cyber ethics
>and cyber crime; the use of ICTs for government and decentralization; and
>media ownership and concentration. The main emphasis here is to articulate
>support for the empowerment of citizens and the reform and strengthening
>of democracy through the use of ICTs. Orthogonal to all themes in this
>category would be consideration of their social impacts.
>Building the Infrastructure
>In this category, the WSIS would focus on the technical aspects of
>evolving the information society from its present state. Themes would
>include: the extension of Internet connectivity, wireless technologies,
>and other advanced ICTs to meet outstanding human needs in all societies;
>infrastructure needed to extend participating of the developing world in
>the information society; building bridges between different types of
>media, including radio, television, print and the Internet; addressing the
>needs of rural communities; ICTs need to address emergency situations, as
>articulated in the Tampere Convention; and supporting the deployment of
>community  radio and television broadcasting sectors.
>Development and Employment
>In this category, the WSIS would examine the particular roles and
>responsibilities the information society has to play in affecting
>development and creating employment. Themes would include: the creation of
>economic opportunities; the role of ICTs in health, agriculture, and other
>life-critical sectors; the role of ICT-based communication for
>development; building national policies and capacity in developing
>countries; training workers for the information society; the realities and
>dangers of labor exploitation in ICT-based sectors; the roles and impacts
>of investment and speculation in ICT-based development; and the role and
>limits of E-commerce in development and employment.
>Tools, Services and Applications
>In this category, the WSIS would examine tools, services, and applications
>in the information society that should be pursued in addressing human
>needs. Major thematic subcategories here would include technologies that
>facilitate active citizenship and improved government; support universal
>access to knowledge and global communication and cooperation; and the
>improvement of the standard of living adequate to the health and
>well-being of all citizens. Specific themes include: the building of
>bridges between the media: radio, television, press and Internet; ICTs for
>E-government, including citizen input into political processes; support
>for disaster mitigation and relief operations; support for long-term data
>retention and archiving for cultural preservation; and tools to facilitate
>cross-sector co-operation.
>Opening the Gates / Bridging Divides to the Information Society
>In this category, the WSIS would address barriers to citizens and
>countries in accessing the information society. Here, the WSIS would
>explicitly recognize a complex of different types of barriers, not the
>proverbial, monolithic "digital divide." Major emphasis would be placed on
>addressing barriers facing the least developed countries (LDCs). Other
>themes addressed here would include: social, economic, and educational
>barriers; political and social barriers; requirements for achieving
>universal and equitable access; information as a public good, with due
>consideration for intellectual property; freedom of expression and of the
>media; supporting  cultural and linguistic diversity in circumventing
>barriers; and the distinct roles of governments, civil society, and the
>private sector in bridging barriers to the information society.
>Citizens and Communities (N)
>In this category, the WSIS would address themes specific to citizens and
>communities that are not addressed by commercial perspectives on the
>information society. Major thematic subcategories here include: the
>creation of an electronic commons, free public spaces and technical
>resources that can be used to meet human needs; community control of ICT
>infrastructures; continuing support for open source technologies; capacity
>building; and the multiplicity of dimensions of diversity. Specific themes
>here would include: the empowerment of communities through ICTs;
>preservation of culture and language; support for oral information and
>cultures; support for independent, community controlled media; the needs
>of people with disabilities; needs of the elderly; support for
>cross-cultural communications; stemming the technological "brain drain"
>from developing countries; content dumping, and geographic-specific themes.
>Gender Perspectives (N)
>In accordance with the Millennium Declaration, the WSIS must address gender
>perspectives within the information society. In this category, the WSIS
>would focus on the broad themes of reducing gender discrimination and
>improving participation of women in the information society, capacity
>building and training for women, and the use of ICTs to improve the lives
>and livelihoods of women worldwide. Specific themes would include:
>supporting wide participation by women and gender ICT specialists in
>policy and decision making at all levels in the ICT sector; supporting
>women's greater access and control over resources necessary  for their
>empowerment; Improving the participation and representation of women and
>gender equality advocates in all levels of policy making including
>participation across generations; reform of decision-making processes in
>the ICT sector; ICT applications for supporting women's reproductive and
>productive roles, in education and literacy programs; ICT applications for
>reducing violence against women; and Issues of pornography and other forms
>of exploitation in the information society. Two other themes of critical
>importance to the WSIS that have been proposed from the Women's Caucus
>are: ensuring that ICTs contribute to the goals of peace, equality and
>development and the use of ICT applications for conflict resolution and
>peace building.
>Review of Our Concerns to Date on Principles, Themes and Possible Outcomes
>The group of civil society organizations endorsing this document have
>responded to three earlier documents on content, themes, and possible
>outcomes issued by the WSIS Secretariat. We have been somewhat encouraged
>by the  progress on principles, but are concerned at the very wide
>differences of approach to themes.
>We have major concerns about principles, themes and outcomes of the WSIS,
>as presented in the documents proposed by Subcommittee 2:
>Lack of a Human Rights Perspective: Human rights have not been included
>explicitly among the principles,  nor in the latest proposal for themes.
>We feel that the basis for discussion of all themes within the WSIS should
>be done in the context of and in reference to human rights frameworks
>Incomplete Vision of the Information Society: We are perplexed and
>concerned that the Summit agenda might be limited to a partial vision of
>the "Information Society", where infrastructure and connectivity become an
>end in themselves, while the fundamental development goals -education,
>eradicating poverty, building democracy-, are envisioned as mere
>"applications" of technology.
>Not Just Access, but Participation: Human interaction and the exchange of
>information and content to facilitate active citizenship - the
>participation of all individuals and communities in the public space - is
>missing from most of the proposals we have received.
>Insufficient Depth and Too Little Diversity: These proposals have also
>failed to capture the complexity and diversity of views and perspectives
>represented by all stakeholders, including (but not limited to) levels of
>societal development, culture, gender, and economics.

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