By APC GENEVA, 24 May 2009
“The post WSIS clock is ticking and many challenges remain,” said APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen at the opening of the twelfth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSDT). Among these challenges, she talked about WSIS principles related to human rights: “In many countries from the developed world and the developing world there is still a sense that freedom of information is perceived more as a threat than as an enabler, as a driver for learning and innovation and for more transparent and accountable governance.” CSDT is reviewing progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels.
Remarks made on 29 May 2009 on the last day of the 12th session of the CSTD by APC
I would like to express my thanks to the CSTD chair secretariat, and to members for the inclusion of civil society stakeholders.
The APC is actively involved in WSIS follow up and I would like to highlight 2 initiatives in particular:
- global information society watch, and annual report on progress from the perspective of civil society and the academic community;
- with the CoE and the UNECE the development of a code of good practice in access to information, public participation and transparency for all bodies involved in IG.
Affirm comments about Charles Geiger’s immense contribution to multi-stakeholder participation not just in the CSTD but during the entire WSIS process.
CSTD has a historic role and responsibility with regard to the mandate given it in 2006 by ECOSOC to oversee WSIS follow up. This resolution clearly outlines the importance of multi-stakeholder participation in this process.
“The commission shall (c ) Promote dialogue and foster partnerships, in coordination with other appropriate United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies, to contribute to the attainment of the Summit objectives and the implementation of its outcomes and to use information and communication technologies for development and th e achievement of internationally agreed development goals, with the participation of Governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations and other international organizations in accordance with their different roles and responsibilities; ”
My organisation has been a member of ECOSOC since the early 1990s and in this time we have worked closely with the UN and with member states. But the WSIS process challenged us to engage even more closely with intergovernmental processes, as well as with stakeholders from the private sector.
We believe that this has resulted in building collaboration and understanding. It has helped to transform relationships between civil society, business and government that were often oppositional, and determined in a narrow way by narrow interests to relationships driven by common public interest goals.
We hope that the CSTD continues to/recognises that the IGF is part of an important 21st century development in international public policy arenas that are experimenting with multi-stakeholder participation in complex governance matters. It is too soon to fully assess the impact of this experiment, but not acknowledging its achievements and potential would be a grave mistake.
Suggestions for the 13th session of the CSTD:
- convene a halfday information session on the first day of the session to brief people who hav e not participated previously on the CSTD’s mandate with regard to WSIS follow up, rules of procedure, and mechanisms for drafting resolutions (this can help adress concerns with regard to drafting raised by many members earlier);
- that the secretariat produced a short checklist based on the mandate given the CSTD by ECOSOC to assist in streamlining procedures;
- that the secretariat produced guidelines for submission of reporting to be considered by CSTD and communicate these to all stakeholders;
- that the secretariat sends out its request for reporting along the template it developed at least 6 months before the session;
- that the CSTD convenes a small working group that includes representatives from governments, and other stakeholder groups, that can help the secretariat and the chairs prepare for each session.