This week in Tunis, at the World Summit on the Information Society, both inside and outside the official Summit, we have witnessed serious attacks on human rights and the right to freedom of expression. Please sign the open letter to Kofi Annan today.
Join The Big Noise!!!!!
I am left alone in the Hotel Amilcar — what does Amilcar means, I wonder… guess everybody had some other things to find out about last week — moved to a new room as the whole wing is empty now and they turn off the water and the electricity. Feeling depressed, suspended between my default location and the WSIS hype with the nice APC faces.
WSIS, Tunis could not attract many ICT celebraties. I am sure, it would not have attracted, many common men and women, who are doing silent, but exemplary work in ICT, as they just cannot afford to travel at their own cost.
So WSIS creates a new digital divide, those who could afford to participate either on public money or private money and those who cannot afford to participate.
But I’ve many interesting experiences at WSIS. For example, one evening in
Tunis I was travelling back to my hotel by bus and the lady who was sitting
next to me was talking to me in French. When I’ve problems explaining
things in French, she started speaking to me in English and informed me
that she used to work with a writer group in USA.
This crazy summit, which will be remembered as WSIS, is finally over… but the official summit frankly, ended with agreements on further meetings and conferences… and watch out folks… don’t rise your expectations anymore, as nothing will happen. I infact, saw two official delegates, at the closing ceremony with good bye handshakes, saying "see you in Greece".
On the afternoon of Friday, November 18, 2005, one of three stakeholders taking part in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) drew a line in the sand. Civil society representatives from all continents lined up to deliver a stark closing statement.
There were civil society thumbs up for the new multistakeholder Internet Governance Forum; the awareness built that people from all walks of life should be involved in ICT policy development, not just technology specialists and government officials; and the spotlight shone on state repression and surveillance in the host nation, Tunisia.
But thumbs were down for: the UN for choosing a flagrant violator of human rights as the hosts of a UN summit; wealthier governments which insist that financing for ICT for development should be voluntary only; the vague language on internet oversight; and the fact that WSIS follow-up will probably be assigned to technology-focused specialist committee.
With the focus at Tunis largely on who controls the Net, and the
far-from-sophisticated control mechanisms of Tunisian society, the issue of
what the Net can — and is — doing for the excluded in the planet might
have taken a back seat. Disparity in accessing the levers of communication is markedly sharp. But interesting stories are coming in about what’s possible from various parts of the globe — href=“http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/tunis/viewstory.asp?idnews=385”>Africa, in the field of education, href=“http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/tunis/viewstory.asp?idnews=383”>the American Indian indigenous people, and beyond. Undeniably, the harsh reality needs to be acknowledged and dealt with too….
Here are some other voices about how civil society responded to the Tunis
mega-meet over the past week. href=“http://www.ipsterraviva.net”>IPS/TerraViva has done an interesting
job in highlighting diverse issues. Including href=“http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/tunis/viewstory.asp?idnews=377”>reporting
on how the non-profit world saw the results of the global meet (a
“consolation prize”), href=“http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/tunis/viewstory.asp?idnews=364”>how the NGO world sees the deal on internet governance (“disappointed”), the treatment civil society got in Tunis (“a poor welcome”) and some crucial background to understanding the issues involved.
Looking back at the roots of the Digital Solidarity Fund, the responses it evoked, and the linked story of missed opportunities and promises that can still be worked out.