Post-Wsis Spaces For Building A Global Information Society

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1. Introduction

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in two stages, one ending in Geneva in 2003 and the other ending in Tunis in 2005. The Geneva Summit produced two outcome documents, the Geneva Declaration of Principles (ITU, 2003a) and the Geneva Plan of Action (ITU, 2003b). The Tunis Summit also produced two outcome documents, the Tunis Commitment (ITU, 2005a) and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (ITU, 2005b).

These documents are the key reference points for the follow-up and implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society commits governments, international organisations, the private sector and civil society to building a people-centred, inclusive, development-oriented and non-discriminatory information society by implementing the following activities:

  • Mainstreaming and aligning national e-strategies with local and national development priorities.
  • Convening a meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on internet governance.
  • Developing public policy for the internet through a process towards enhanced cooperation by governments in consultation with all stakeholders, including the development of globally applicable principles on public policy issues associated with the coordination and management of critical internet resources.
  • Developing strategies for increasing affordable global connectivity, thereby facilitating improved and equitable access for all, by promoting internet transit and interconnection costs that are commercially negotiated in a competitive environment and that should be oriented towards objective, transparent and non-discriminatory parameters and setting up regional high-speed internet backbone networks and the creation of national, sub-regional and regional internet exchange points (IXPs).
  • Improving existing financing mechanisms for universal access to ICTs for development, capacity building and bridging the digital divide.
  • Welcoming the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) established in Geneva as an innovative  financial mechanism of a voluntary nature open to interested stakeholders by focusing mainly on specific and urgent needs at the local level and seeking new voluntary sources of “solidarity” finance.
  • Developing and implementing enabling policies that reflect national realities and that promote a supportive international environment, foreign direct investment as well as the mobilisation of domestic resources, in order to promote and foster entrepreneurship, particularly small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
  • Building ICT capacity for all and confidence in the use of ICTs by all – including youth, older persons, women, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and remote and rural communities – through the improvement and delivery of relevant education and training programmes and systems including lifelong and distance learning.
  • Implementing effective training and education, particularly in ICT science and technology, that motivates and promotes participation and active involvement of girls and women in the decision-making process of building the information society.
  • Paying special attention to the formulation of universal design concepts and the use of assistive technologies that promote access for all persons, including those with disabilities.
  • Promoting public policies aimed at providing affordable access at all levels, including community-level, to hardware as well as software and connectivity through an increasingly converging technological environment, capacity building and local content.
  • Improving access to the world's health knowledge and telemedicine services, in particular in areas such as global cooperation in emergency response, access to and networking among health professionals to help improve quality of life and environmental conditions.
  • Building ICT capacities to improve access and use of postal networks and services.
  • Using ICTs to improve access to agricultural knowledge, combat poverty, and support production of and access to locally relevant agriculture-related content.
  • Developing and implementing e-government applications based on open standards in order to enhance the growth and interoperability of e-government systems, at all levels, thereby furthering access to government information and services, and contributing to building ICT networks and developing services that are available anywhere and anytime, to anyone and on any device.
  • Supporting educational, scientific, and cultural institutions, including libraries, archives and museums, in their role of developing, providing equitable, open and affordable access to, and preserving diverse and varied content, including in digital form, to support informal and formal education, research and innovation; and in particular supporting libraries in their public service role of providing free and equitable access to information and of improving ICT literacy and community connectivity, particularly in underserved communities.
  • Enhancing the capacity of communities in all regions to develop content in local and/or indigenous languages.
  • Strengthening the creation of quality e-content, on national, regional and international levels.
  • Promoting the use of traditional and new media in order to foster universal access to information, culture and knowledge for all people, especially vulnerable populations and populations in developing countries and using, inter alia, radio and television as educational and learning tools.
  • Reaffirming the independence, pluralism and diversity of media, and freedom of information including through, as appropriate, the development of domestic legislation.
  • Strongly encouraging ICT enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop and use environment-friendly production processes in order to minimise the negative impacts of the use and manufacture of ICTs and disposal of ICT waste on people and the environment.
  • Incorporating regulatory, self-regulatory, and other effective policies and frameworks to protect children and young people from abuse and exploitation through ICTs into national plans of action and e-strategies.
  • Promoting the development of advanced research networks, at national, regional and international levels, in order to improve collaboration in science, technology and higher education.
  • Promoting voluntary service, at the community level, to help maximise the developmental impact of ICTs.
  • Promoting the use of ICTs to enhance flexible ways of working, including teleworking, leading to greater productivity and job creation.
  • Promoting disaster early warning systems by technical cooperation and enhancing the capacity of countries, particularly developing countries, in utilising ICT tools for disaster early warning, management and emergency communications, including dissemination of understandable warnings to those at risk.
  • Making available child helplines, taking into account the need for mobilisation of appropriate resources. For this purpose, easy-to-remember numbers, accessible from all phones and free of charge, should be made available.
  • Digitising our historical data and cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations.

How this is to be done is through post-WSIS follow-up and implementation mechanisms, specified in the Tunis Agenda.

WSIS follow-up

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was called on to oversee the system-wide follow-up of the Geneva and Tunis outcomes of WSIS. To this end, ECOSOC, at its substantive session of 2006, was to review the mandate, agenda and composition of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), including considering the strengthening of the Commission, taking into account the multi-stakeholder approach.

WSIS implementation

The Tunis Agenda called on UN agencies and other intergovernmental organisations, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 57/270 B, to facilitate activities among different stakeholders, including civil society and the business sector, to help national governments in their implementation efforts (UN, 2003). The Agenda further asked theUN Secretary-General, in consultation with members of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), to establish within the CEB a UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) consisting of the relevant UN bodies and organisations, with the mandate to facilitate the implementation of WSIS outcomes. It was suggested that in selecting the lead agency or agencies of this group, the experience of and activities in the WSIS process undertaken by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) should be taken into consideration.

WSIS implementation and follow-up should be an integral part of the UN integrated follow-up to major UN conferences and should contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). [1] It should not require the creation of any new operational bodies. International and regional organisations should assess and report regularly on universal accessibility of nations to ICTs, with the aim of creating equitable opportunities for the growth of ICT sectors of developing countries.

Great importance is attached to multi-stakeholder implementation at the international level, which should be organised taking into account the themes and action lines in the Geneva Plan of Action, and moderated or facilitated by UN agencies when appropriate.

The experience of, and the activities undertaken by UN agencies in the WSIS process – notably the ITU, UNESCO and the UNDP – should continue to be used to their fullest extent. These three agencies should play leading facilitating roles in the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action and organise a meeting of moderators/facilitators of action lines. The coordination of multi-stakeholder implementation activities would help to avoid duplication of activities. This should include, inter alia, information exchange, creation of knowledge, sharing of best practices, and assistance in developing multi-stakeholder and public/private partnerships.

The United Nations General Assembly is to make an overall review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes in 2015.

Monitoring and evaluation

Periodic evaluation, using an agreed methodology, of the implementation process should be undertaken by developing appropriate indicators and benchmarking, including community connectivity indicators. It should clarify the magnitude of the “digital divide”, in both its domestic and international dimensions, and keep it under regular assessment, and track global progress in the use of ICTs to achieve internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the MDGs.

2. WSIS follow-up and implementation activities in 2006

Action line implementation

A consultation meeting of WSIS action line facilitators/moderators was convened in Geneva on 24 February 2006 by the ITU, the UNDP and UNESCO in their role as lead facilitating agencies for the multi-stakeholder implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action.

A number of different UN agencies and other organisations and entities offered their services to facilitate, or co-facilitate, specific action lines and themes, or stated their intention to do so. In addition, it was agreed that each action line would nominate its own chair. In order to launch activities under each action line and facilitate the initial contacts among facilitators and participants, it was agreed that one agency should be provisionally appointed as the interim focal point for each action line and theme. [2]

A number of organisations commented on the draft terms of reference for the facilitators of each action line and for the lead facilitating agencies (ITU, UNESCO and UNDP). The main changes made were to ensure that the multi-stakeholder implementation process remained as a bottom-up process and made full use of online tools to ensure maximum inclusiveness (ITU, 2006a and 2006b).

It was agreed that where possible, WSIS-related meetings should be clustered together, to make the best use of available resources and to make it easier for those who need to travel.

The next step was the convening of a cluster of WSIS-related events in Geneva from 9 to 19 May 2006. This included the renaming of World Telecommunications Day to become World Information Society Day, to be held annually on May 17. A first round of action line facilitation meetings was held, convened by the following organisations:

  • ITU for action line C2: Access to infrastructure and C5: Security. For C2 it was the second meeting after a first meeting at the World Telecommunications Development meeting in Doha in March 2006.
  • UNDP for action lines C4: Capacity building and C6: Enabling environment
  • UNESCO for C8: Cultural diversity
  • UN-DESA for C1: The role of all stakeholders, C11: International and regional cooperation and C7: ICT applications/E-government
  • UNCTAD and ILO joint meeting for C7: ICT applications/E-business and C7: ICT applications/E-employment

During this first round of action line facilitation meetings, most meetings focused on:

  • A report on WSIS outcomes in the respective area of the respective action line
  • Briefings by participants on their respective projects
  • Presentations by stakeholders on possible priorities for action and modalities for cooperation
  • Exchange of views by participants on the objectives of the group.

Between 16 and 22 October 2006, UNESCO convened meetings of action lines C3: Access to information and knowledge, C10: Ethical dimensions of the information society, C7: ICT applications/E-learning and C9: Media) in Paris, and of C7: ICT applications/E-science in Beijing. [3]

Table 1 shows the revised annex to the Tunis Agenda indicating the provisional moderators/facilitators of each action line.

С1. The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development ECOSOC/UN Regional Commissions/ITU/ [ UN DESA]
С2. Information and communication infrastructure ITU/[APC]
C3. Access to information and knowledge ITU/UNESCO/[FAO/UNIDO]
C5. Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs ITU/
C6. Enabling environment ITU/UNDP/UN Regional Commissions/UNCTAD/[ UN DESA/UNIDO/ APC]
C7. ICT applications
E-government [UN DESA]/UNDP/ITU
E-health WHO/ITU
E-employment ILO/ITU
E-environment WHO/WMO/UNEP/UN-Habitat/ITU/ICAO
E-agriculture FAO/ITU
C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content UNESCO
C9. Media UNESCO
C10. Ethical dimensions of the information society UNESCO/ECOSOC/[WHO/
ECPAT Int’l]
C11. International and regional cooperation UN Regional Commissions/UNDP/ ITU/UNESCO/ECOSOC/[ UN DESA]
Source: ITU
Note: Additions proposed at the meeting of action line moderators/facilitators on 24 February are [ underlined and in square brackets]. Civil society entities are indicated in italics.
Those agencies shown in bold would be the provisional focal point for each action line.

Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD)

At its ninth session held in Geneva on 15 to 19 May 2006, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) held a multi-stakeholder panel discussion on the role of the Commission in United Nations system-wide follow-up to the outcomes of the WSIS.

The CSTD agreed that the substantive agenda item for the 2006-2008 review and policy cycle will be “Promoting the building of a people-centred, development-oriented and inclusive information society, with a view to enhancing digital opportunities for all people,” [4]with special emphasis on development dimensions of ICTs, including risk-benefit analysis to bridge the “digital divide”.

A joint bureau meeting was held between ECOSOC and the Commission on 16 May 2006. The president of ECOSOC briefed the bureaux on the outcome of its open-ended consultation on the role of the CSTD in the follow-up to the WSIS held the same day. The president also observed that the new role of the CSTD should be reviewed by ECOSOC, as mandated by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/252. It was noted that the point of departure at the ECOSOC 2006 substantive session in July should not be whether, but rather how the CSTD should assist ECOSOC in the system-wide follow-up to the WSIS. [5]

ECOSOC passed a resolution (E/2006/L.37) on 28 July 2006 entitled “Follow-up to the WSIS and review of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development”, where it indicated how it will oversee the system-wide follow-up of the WSIS outcomes. ECOSOC decided that the Commission will assist the Council as the focal point in the system-wide follow-up of WSIS. This will involve:

  • A strong development orientation
  • Reviewing and assessing progress on the implementation of the outcomes of WSIS, including the action lines at regional and international levels
  • Sharing best practices and lessons learned
  • Promoting dialogue and fostering partnerships to contribute to the attainment of the WSIS objectives and the implementation of its outcomes
  • Strengthening the CSTD by the addition of ten new members from member states
  • Enabling multi-stakeholder participation in the CSTD by relaxing the rules of accreditation for the private sector and civil society.

UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS)

The United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) was launched at a meeting of high-level representatives of 22 UN agencies on 14 July 2006 at ITU headquarters in Geneva.

UNGIS will serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within the UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS. The Group will enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global information society. UNGIS will also work to highlight the importance of ICTs in meeting the MDGs.

To maximise its efficiency, the Group agreed on a work plan in which it would concentrate its collective efforts each year on one or two cross-cutting themes and on a few selected countries.

UNGIS will work to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Monitor progress and key activities relating to the implementation of WSIS outcomes, based on input and reports from CEB member organisations.
  • Work with the UN Secretary-General to ensure that the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action is closely linked to the planning and implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) at the country level.
  • Facilitate interagency information exchange and activities, including sharing of experiences and lessons learned in particular with regard to WSIS goals, by ensuring the coherence of the stocktaking exercise.
  • Work closely with the Partnership for the Measuring of ICT for Development in order to streamline the approach of the UN system to the development of appropriate indicators and benchmarking.
  • Promote effective communication and collaboration between the UN system, intergovernmental organisations outside the UN system, and civil society and private sector partners, including in relation to the work of multi-stakeholder groups or networks.
  • Identify key accomplishments and make recommendations on overall policy and coordination as well as proposing effective reporting requirements for the WSIS, for consideration by the UN system.
  • Establish mechanisms to report regularly to other WSIS stakeholders on its activities, in particular on preparation of any analytical reports on WSIS implementation to be delivered to ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly.
  • Disseminate information on the status of WSIS implementation within the UN system as well as to the general public.

In the coming period, UNGIS will focus on bringing the efforts of the UN system to bear on expanding access to communications, for instance, through multimedia community centres, teleshops, etc. Drawing on the respective competencies of the different members of the Group, UNGIS will also focus on applications related to e-health and e-tourism. At the same time, the Group will examine the e-readiness strategies and policies of one or two countries, to be proposed by the UNDP, to develop a comprehensive toolkit for bringing the benefits of the information society to developing countries.

During the first year, UNGIS will be chaired by the ITU, with UNESCO, the UNDP and WHO acting as vice-chairs. (ITU, 2006c). [6]

Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID)

On 17 April 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan approved the launch of a Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). [7]While not formally mentioned in the Tunis Agenda as part of WSIS implementation, GAID emerged from the UN ICT Task Force, whose mandate ended in 2005, and is part of a parallel but related process to the WSIS.

The mission of GAID will be to facilitate and promote the integration of ICT into development, including the MDGs, by providing a platform for an open, inclusive, multi-stakeholder cross-sectoral policy dialogue on the role of ICT in development. It will thus contribute to linking the outcomes of the WSIS with the broader UN development agenda.

The alliance will organise thematic events addressing core issues related to the role of ICT in economic development, the eradication of poverty, and employment and enterprise in pro-poor growth scenarios, with particular focus on health, education, gender, youth, and disabled and disadvantaged segments of society.

GAID will function primarily as a decentralised network, open to participation of all stakeholders, including governments, business, civil society and international organisations. The Alliance will aim significantly to expand the circle of participants in policy and partnership debate beyond the traditional set of stakeholders, by actively engaging constituencies that currently are not adequately involved, particularly non-governmental participants from developing countries, media, academia, youth and women’s groups.

GAID was launched at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 19 to 20 June 2006.

The participants in the meeting agreed that:

  • The multi-stakeholder approach should be a key principle of GAID and of all ICT for development (ICT4D) programmes.
  • The potential of ICT as a transformative development tool has been recognised, but efforts should now be challenged to support effective and rapid implementation.
  • ICT4D must be placed within a comprehensive development strategy and programmes focused on social development and economic growth using ICT with a systematic transformation process of the socioeconomic structure towards the knowledge society and economy.
  • ICT4D programmes should be localised and community-driven and not technology-driven.
  • There is a need to realign and recalibrate existing policies and strategies for development with a dimension on ICT as a strategic enabler for all development programmes nationally and globally.
  • The focus should be on key priority areas that are considered most impactful: education, health, entrepreneurship and participation in policy debate and decision making (governance).
  • GAID needs to "think big" and, to this end, address the issue of sustainability, scalability and replicability upfront.
  • GAID recognises the different needs and capacities of the target communities in formulating and implementation of ICT4D.
  • A total solutions orientation should be adopted to produce sustained results and impact.
  • Capacity building for ICT as an enabler for development should be addressed in a holistic manner.
  • Content development and applications should be addressed as strategic challenges driven by grassroots and community-based approaches.
  • It is essential to measure, monitor, recognise and promote initiatives among stakeholders participating in GAID towards achieving MDGs.
  • Large private sector companies, small and medium-scale enterprises and entrepreneurs should be actively engaged in ICT4D policies and programmes.
  • Major development banks and donor agencies should be encouraged to take an active role in the Alliance.
  • The pivotal role of youth as creators, champions and implementers of ICT4D initiatives and activities needs to strengthened.
  • Gender mainstreaming is imperative for making ICT4D activities relevant, effective and sustainable.

The following are some of the initiatives proposed at the GAID inaugural meeting:

  • To consider establishing a Cyber Development Corps (CyDevCorps) under the umbrella of the UN, based on the multi-stakeholder approach and with a South-South collaborative dimension.
  • To consider promoting the establishment of resource centres to promote programmes to build human capital through multilateral and multi-sectoral cooperation and to facilitate sharing of best practices, information exchange and discourse for GAID.
  • To consider setting up thematic and regional networks and working groups with a view to enhancing outreach and promoting partnership for action.

GAID set up a structure of governing bodies:

  • A Steering Committee to provide executive direction
  • A Strategy Council comprising 60 members representing governments and non-governmental stakeholders – civil society, the private sector, international organisations, media, academia, youth and women’s groups – to provide strategic guidance
  • A group of High Level Advisors for policy and expert advice
  • A Champions Network of activists, experts and practitioners to build its activities.

In addition, GAID encouraged the formation of Communities of Expertise to:

  • Analyse existing projects, programmes and practices with a view to identifying best practices and/or developing guidelines, standards or templates for discussion.
  • Conduct research studies on cutting-edge, new or emerging issues, identifying a technological or/and organisational solution to tackling a barrier to development using ICT.
  • Identify actors/opportunities for multi-stakeholder partnerships and resource mobilisation for this purpose.

GAID subsequently held a global forum with the theme “Our Common Humanity in the Information Age: Principles and Values for Development” on 29 November 2006 at UN headquarters in New York. [8]

Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

The purpose of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is to provide a space for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on internet governance. In accordance with paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda, the mandate of the Forum is to:

  • Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the internet.
  • Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body.
  • Interface with appropriate intergovernmental organisations and other institutions on matters under their purview.
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities.
  • Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the internet in the developing world.
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries.
  • Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations.
  • Contribute to capacity building for internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise.
  • Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in internet governance processes.
  • Discuss,inter alia, issues relating to critical internet resources.
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the internet, of particular concern to everyday users.
  • Publish its proceedings.

The IGF, in its working and function, is required to be multilateral, multi-stakeholder, democratic and transparent.

Consultations on the convening of the IGF were held in Geneva on 16 to 17 February 2006. Around 300 participants representing all stakeholder groups attended the meeting. The participants addressed a wide variety of issues, such as the IGF's scope of work and substantive priorities as well as aspects related to its structure and functioning. The aim of the consultations was to develop a common understanding among all stakeholders on the nature and character of the IGF.

On 17 May 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan established an Advisory Group to assist him in convening the IGF. The Advisory Group is made up of 47 members of government, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities, representing all regions of the world. It is chaired by Nitin Desai, the Secretary-General’s special adviser for the WSIS, assisted by Markus Kummer.

A second round of consultations on the convening of the IGF was held in Geneva on 19 May 2006. The consultations were open to all stakeholders and focused on the substantive preparation of the inaugural meeting of the IGF.

The IGF Advisory Group held a meeting in Geneva on 22 to 23 May 2006. It agreed on recommendations for the agenda and the programme as well as the structure and format of the first meeting in Athens. The Advisory Group recommended that the overall theme of the meeting be “Internet Governance for Development” with the following broad themes:

  • Openness – Freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge
  • Security – Creating trust and confidence through collaboration
  • Diversity – Promoting multilingualism and local content
  • Access – Internet connectivity: policy and cost. [9]

The IGF convened for its inaugural meeting in Athens from 30 October to 2 November 2006.

A number of “dynamic coalitions”, based on multi-stakeholder cooperation, emerged from the Athens meeting, including dynamic coalitions on privacy, open standards, spam and an internet bill of rights. [10]

The Government of Brazil will host the 2007 IGF meeting. It will take place in Rio de Janeiro on 12 to 15 November 2007. [11]

Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF)

The Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) [12]is an African initiative launched by Senegalese President H.E. Abdoulaye Wade during the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva 2003) and recognised as a voluntary fund during the second phase (Tunis 2005). [13]It was officially inaugurated on 14 March 2005 in Geneva, in the presence of several heads of state, ministers and mayors. The DSF is supported by 23 founding members consisting of fourteen nation states, [14]eight cities and regions [15]and one international organisation [16]and is governed by a tripartite Foundation Board composed of 24 members, representing, in equal parts, public authorities, the private sector and civil society of the various regions of the world.

The objectives of the DSF are to:

  • Ensure affordable and fair access to information technologies (IT) and their contents for everybody, especially marginalised groups.
  • Promote such access as a basic right in both the public and private domains, irrespective of market fluctuations, growth and profitability, with respect for an information society that is socially, culturally, economically, financially and ecologically sustainable.
  • Guarantee access to information and knowledge to everybody, contribute to the autonomy and healthy development of each individual, and strengthen the commitment of local collectivities at the social, political, economic and cultural levels.
  • Reduce economic, social and cultural disparities by the mobilisation of fresh resources generated by innovative financial mechanisms for development, in particular the “one percent for digital solidarity” principle [17], a financing tool specifically devoted to “the fight against the digital divide”. [18]

As a financial mechanism, the DSF is not involved in implementing its own in-house projects. Since it does not want to finance large ICT infrastructure, it concentrates on community-based projects with a view to creating new activities, new jobs and, in the long term, new markets.

At present, the DSF is funding a number of pilot projects in Africa which provide ICT and internet access for communities engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso and Burundi. It has also provided IT equipment and capacity-building for the Town Hall of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which was destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami.

3. Conclusions

At this point, it is not clear how any of these post-WSIS follow-up and implementation spaces will develop in the years ahead. This overview of activities in 2006 shows that a beginning has been made on all the follow-up and implementation processes specified in the Geneva Plan of Action and the Tunis Agenda, except for one:

  • Developing public policy for the internet through a process towards enhanced cooperation by governments in consultation with all stakeholders, including the development of globally applicable principles on public policy issues associated with the coordination and management of critical internet resources.

The reasons for this omission have not been presented by the UN.

The jury is still out on the value of these various post-WSIS policy spaces. Some of the critical success factors for WSIS implementation are whether the structures established will be able to:

  • Attract the participation of a critical mass of all stakeholder groups.
  • Manage the power relations between stakeholder groups effectively.
  • Leverage existing financial resources and mobilise new financial resources to support implementation activities.
  • Rationalise and transform what looks like a cumbersome UN machinery of implementation and monitoring.
  • Focus on a limited number of key issues and themes where a significant difference can be made.
  • Some of the risk factors include:
  • Whether the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon takes as keen an interest in building a global information society as Kofi Annan did.
  • Whether multi-stakeholder partnerships can take hold meaningfully and translate into action.
  • Whether there is a sufficient commitment to multilateral approaches to global problems and challenges among stakeholders.
  • Whether building a global information society is fully recognised as a global public good, that is worth prioritising.

Of these spaces, the IGF has so far set the standard for creating a space for successful policy dialogue on internet governance. It remains to be seen whether the other post-WSIS spaces can match it in terms of innovation, participation and effectiveness.

This report was originally published as part of a larger compilation: “Global Information Society watch 2007: Participation ” which can be downloaded from
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