From August 2005 until April 2006, an evaluation of APC’s information and communication technology (ICT) policy involvement from 2002 to mid-2005 was carried out by an independent consultant. “The overall conclusion from this evaluation has to be that APC is an energetic, active, committed organisation that has achieved a lot with limited staff and resources. [.. and] APC is highly respected. This respect comes from a range of different players and extends over technical, advocacy, and political aspects of its work”, but, says the writer, “Perhaps the overwhelming message is to aim lower”.
This fifteen page paper by the coordinator of APC’s Latin American ICT Policy Monitor covers the background to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), stakeholders, the process (including the Geneva and Tunis rounds), themes discussed in round one, and looks at results.
In November 2005, the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society will meet for the last time in Tunis. In its five year history, the WSIS has failed to succeed in redressing the North-South “digital divide”. Consensus in the WSIS has been elusive: the private and public sectors hold diametrically opposing views on issues such as market fundamentalism, free and open-source software, and intellectual property rights reform; while on issues of financing and internet governance, agreement between governments has been split along North-South lines. It remains to be seen whether civil society groups participating in the summit will be able to shift attention away from these competing interests towards human rights issues.
“Summits and Strategies”, in Big Brother Goes Global, Karen Banks for Index On Censorship, Volume 3/2005.
Any world summit is challenging to design and to organize: the World Summit on the Information Society exceptionally so. This book describes, through the voices of some of its major actors, essential parts of the complex undertaking of the WSIS, from conception to realization. The work of many participants culminated in the Geneva Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as in the ICT4D Platform. When moving forward, it is important to remember history. WSIS already has a history of its own. This book is not a history book. But the stories, the contributors to this book tell us, are part of this history. The target audience of this book goes beyond the “usual suspects” and insiders, who has lived and worked in the “WSIS spaceship” for more than two years. The book will reach out to a broader public, because the Information Society is for everybody. The individual articles of this book will enable readers to get a better understanding of the complex issues raised by the WSIS process. It gives the opportunity to see the different perspectives of different players and stakeholders, the controversies and conflicts, which will continue to exist when the process goes ahead. Readers will get firsthand information and personal impressions on how WSIS I was done by governmental negotiators, who have been heavily involved in the deal-making inside and outside the conference halls of the International Geneva Convention Center and the Palais des Nations where most of the sessions took place. Representatives of the private sector and civil society give their perspectives and write about the expectations they have when they discuss the future of the WSIS process. And academic observers add some theoretical analysis which helps to put single issues into a broader context.
This paper presents a review of African participation in the first phase WSIS process (i.e. the Geneva summit held in December 2003 and the preparatory process leading up to it). It is not intended as a comprehensive analysis, but to stimulate discussion about ways in which African participation – particularly that of African civil society – can be more effectively structured during the second phase of the summit.