Sunday, December 25, 2005

The second part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)- Tunis 2005

was held in Tunis on 16 -18 November 2005.

Observations from

Heads of state and government from all over the world have adopted a Tunis Commitment and a Tunis Agenda. The most contested issue in the final negotiations was Internet governance, but the summit itself put financing ICT for Development and related questions back on the table.

Independent news coverage We were in Tunis with a couple of reporters and have brought you daily news, analyses and documents from a civil society perspective, from 13 to 18 November 2005. A complete listing is at the end of this page. Other news sources:

Venue / Webcast
The summit, the accompanying ICT4ALL exhibiton, and most parallel events took place at the Kram Exhibition Park in Tunis. For those not able to participate - or who could not get into the rooms because of the mass of particpants - there is an archive of the webcast audio/video stream. 

Parallel Events The ICT4ALL exhibition and the parallel events took place from 15 to 19 November. There were also high-level round tables, a high level panel on ICT for Development and "side events" that are related to WSIS but take place somewhere else - sometimes not in Tunisia.

Civil Society Concerns around the Summit / Citizens' Summit on the Information Society 

Civil society groups have a number of concerns around the summit. Therefore, a number of them have tried to hold a Citizens' Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) parallel to the summit, together with independent Tunisian NGOs. Detailed information is available at the CSIS website. The announcement is here: (rtf): English | French | Spanish | Arabic The CSIS was prevented from happening by Tunisian authorities, without any written documentation and reference to legal reasons.

The preparatory process was mostly occupied with Internet Governance debates, which implies that there was no time for a real discussion about how to move from decisions and declarations (the Geneva phase) to implementation (the Tunis phase and beyond). So there still is a real danger that the summit in the end has produced tons of paper and documents, but has had no impact on the real world and on the conditions of living for a great number of people.
Where there was discussion around implementation and follow-up, the organizers have planned the summit in the style of a trade fair or a showcase for "best practices" and were determined to sell the the event as "the summit of solutions". This approach avoided speaking about the tougher questions that come up when assessing the summit from a human rights and global justice perspective. WSIS civil society had to decide if it again distances itself from the official outcomes and the techno-liberal attitude of the official summit process and develops an independent summit document. It did not draft another declaration, but a month after the summit issued a joint assessment of the WSIS outcomes and process:
WSIS Civil Society Statement on WSIS: "Much more could have been achieved", final version (revision 1), 23 December 2005
english: pdf | doc
Also, the host country Tunisia is known for its bad human rights record, and civil society groups were afraid that the summit would only lead to internationally legitimizing the non-democratic regime of president Ben Ali. Therefore, there was some discussion about completely boycotting the summit if Tunisia does not radically minimize its human rights violations. Independent Tunisian civil society groups instead asked for international support. Tunisian independent groups have issued a declaration about this in January 2005. One outcome was the Citizens' Summit effort. The WSIS Civil Society Bureau had also submitted an official position about the summit preparations and the summit itself in March 2005. news and analysis on the Tunis Summit
22 December 2005: Creating Spaces for Civil Society in the WSIS. A Reply to Michael Gurstein, By Willie Currie
22. December 2005: Networking the Networked/Closing the Loop. Some Notes on WSIS II, By Michael Gurstein
19 December 2005: “Much more could have been achieved”. Civil Society Finishes Assessment of Summit Outcomes
28 November 2005: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part II. Rik and Ralf’s Take on the WSIS, By Ralf Bendrath and Rik Panganiban
23 November 2005: Civil Society Best Practices to bridge the digital divide. Evaluations of the involvement in WSIS, By Charlotte Dany18 November 2005: “The End of the Beginning” – WSIS is over. Documents adopted, Civil Society preparing assessment
18 November 2005: Civil Society groups reflect on WSIS process. Where to Next?
18 November 2005: The panel I never attended. About a journey of a WSIS participant who tried to seize the day, By Johannes Schunter
17 November 2005: The WSIS "High Level Panel". A missed opportunity? A comparison of two panel events
17 November 2005: "Art and Free Knowledge" event in Tunis. When Richard Stallman and Gilberto Gil sing a duet...
17 November 2005: One long month of hunger strike for three basic democratic objectives. Increasing international support for eight Tunesian opposition leaders on strike, By Christine Wenzel
16/17 November 2005: The citizens summit is dead – long live the citizens summit! CSIS press conference becomes major human rights gathering
16 November 2005: Summit Agenda switching to “ICT and development”. Governments use final statements to reiterate their pet subjects.
16 November 2005: "Visions in Process II" released at World Summit. New Publication of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
16 November 2005: Second WSIS summit officially opened. Kofi Annan: Challenges are political, not financial – Ben Ali receives deep criticism for Tunisian human rights record
15 November 2005: Negotiations closer to agreement. Consensus on Internet Governance Forum and - almost - ICANN oversight
15 November 2005: Broadcast Media in the Information Society? World Electronic Media Forum
14 November 2005: Meeting Tunisian civil society – and Tunisian secret police. The strategy of intimidation
14 November 2005: Tunisian authorities escalate conflict with civil society. Citizens Summit meeting blocked
13 November 2005: PrepCom3 has re-convened. Trying to find common ground under chaotic circumstances
9 November 2005: Tunisian Authorities block our Side-Event. Harassment can lead to summit being not in Tunisia, but about Tunisia

Monday, December 12, 2005

e-Paliament : Global Center for ICT in Paliament launched

The Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament is a joint initiative of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and a group of national and regional parliaments launched in November 2005 on the occasion of WSIS in Tunis.

The Global Centre pursues two main objectives:

  • to strengthen the role of parliaments in the promotion of the Information Society, through fostering ICT-related legislation, in light of the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society;

  • to promote the use of ICT as a means to modernize parliamentary processes, increase transparency, accountability and participation, and improve inter-parliamentary cooperation.
The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament intends to achieve these objectives by providing a framework for sharing knowledge, coordinating actions, providing technical assistance and pooling information and resources across legislatures around the world, regardless of their country’s economic development level.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

World Bank Justice for the Poor (J4P) Workshop

Following the UN announcement of the formation of the Commision of the Legal Empowerment of the poor this October, the World Bank's Justice of the Poor (J4P) Program, which was formed pre-Commision around 2002 (I THINK, I remember hearing about it then), held a long workshop from 9-30 November. It will be interesting to see how this intersects with the UNDP's efforts.  Announcement from J4P:

The J4P workshop centered on two major themes: Origins and Content of Program Design; and Dynamics of Implementation and Impact. The workshop established (and has since consolidated) a fruitful cross-country dialogue regarding experiences, opportunities, limitations, and constraints with J4P initiatives across development institutions. A number of recommendations came out of the workshop, most notably: (a) the need for an established network of practitioners who can share ideas, experience and knowledge; and (b) the desire for ongoing knowledge sharing events which explore in more detail some of the topics covered during the discussion.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...