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From pioneering data networks to 'WSIS Papers": ITeM in Uruguay

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By Pablo Accuosto

URUGUAY, 27 July 2005

APC's member in Uruguay ITeM has been participating in the World Summit on the Information Society through its WSISPapers project it has developed. This project grew from the realization that in WSIS's first phase, many Southern "state" in this glossary). As a general rule, "government" should not be capitalised.

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delegates faced severe roadblocks in negotiating effectively. They found grappling with certain information and communication technology issues a puzzle, largely due to the lack of specific information resources to support their positions.

APC's member in Uruguay ITeM has been participating in the World Summit on the Information Society through its WSISPapers project it has developed. This project grew from the realization that in WSIS's first phase, many Southern government delegates faced severe roadblocks in negotiating effectively. They found grappling with certain information and communication technology issues a puzzle, largely due to the lack of specific information resources to support their positions.

The WSISPapers project is supported by IDRC's research initiative PanAmericas.

Among the central objectives that guide the work of the Third World Institute (Instituto del Tercer Mundo, ITeM) is the promotion of networks and the socialization of information and communication to build democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable societies.

Uruguay-based APC-member ITeM has been a pioneer in the identification of data networks as an ideal tool for these purposes. It has played a central role in the early adoption of network-based tools by unions, social and cooperative organizations, among others. ITeM has accompanied the development of electronic networks -- like the Internet -– at a global level with the development of projects based on new communication technologies, for instance, Chasque and the Choike.org, the portal of Southern civil societies.

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service provider set up by ITeM in the early 1990s, which was the first Style information: Do not use e-mail with a hyphen.

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link available to "What is civil society?", initial working definition adopted by the Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics">civil society organisations

in Uruguay even before there were commercial operators.

These projects have been aimed towards providing practical tools that would contribute to the formation of national and international networks between citizen’s organizations. The objective of which would be to share experiences and design and take action on issues of common interest that would contribute to the resolution of some of the problems that affect the societies of the South.

It was because of this interest in the promotion of human rights and the development of information and knowledge societies in the South that ITeM has become involved in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

In the first phase of the WSIS, ITeM’s participation was channeled through already existing projects, such as Choike, and through supporting APC-lead activities. For the second phase of the summit, ITeM, with the support of the International Development Research Center (IDRC), developed the 'WSIS Papers' project.

This project's objective was to generate a research series on relevant subjects for Southern countries to contribute to the Summit deliberation process and support informed decision-making on behalf of the governments of these countries.

Southern difficulties

This project grew from the realization that, in the first phase of WSIS, many of the governmental delegates from the South faced serious difficulties negotiating effectively when dealing with certain Source: APC">ICT

issues. This was largely due to the lack of specific information resources to support their positions.

The working framework offered by the 'WSIS Papers' has been substantial in facilitating the participation of ITeM in the discussion on information and communication policy design (both at the national and global level) and in strengthening its ability to contribute to the debate at different instances of this phase of the summit.

In the first series of investigations, which were publicly presented at the second meeting of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (PrepCom 2), proposals on financial mechanisms for ICT development -- one of the subjects left pending from the first phase of the Summit -- have been studied both from the technical standpoint as well as in terms of political viability.

This contribution has proven the availability of realistic financing possibilities that consider the interests of Southern countries. The response received from the dissemination of these preliminary results, on behalf of both governmental representatives, civil society organizations and the private sector, has demonstrated that there is an authentic interest in this kind of input.

The conceptual framework of global public goods, for example -- originally proposed as the basis for the analysis on financing ICT in a document elaborated for APC by ITeM and later analysed in depth within the framework of this project - has been increasingly adopted as a referential context by civil society organizations and some Southern governments. ITeM believes that the adoption of this concept, which has been referenced in several of the outcomes of this phase of the WSIS (including the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM) report and government working papers), provides
a valuable negotiation framework for countries with lower levels of technological development.

Deepening ICT work

Participation in the WSIS via the WSIS Papers project has allowed ITeM to deepen its work on ICT. This is true both as related to theoretical developments and also its true impact on policy formulation is concerned.

The permanent exchange and collaboration with other civil society organizations has enriched the Institute’s work and has fostered its participation in regional and global networks.

At the national level, this work has found a reflection in ITeM’s participation in the WSIS Working Group in Uruguay -- which operates via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- as well as through ITeM’s integration of the Citizens’ Communication and Participation Forum.
The Forum brings together a large number of Uruguayan civil society organizations. Participation in these spaces has also improved ITeM’s ability to impact APC">ICT policy

development in the country.

ITeM is currently producing new documents within the framework of the 'WSIS Papers' Project, as inputs to upcoming WSIS activities. ITeM hopes that this new series of research -– which will be publicly presented at the third meeting of the Preparatory Committee (Prepcom-3) and during the celebration of the second phase in Tunis.

It also hopes that, once the summit has concluded, the series will contribute to the follow-up and implementation process for the agreements reached in November 2005.

The new documents are particularly aimed at linking the WSIS process to other multilateral processes, such as the Cultural Diversity Convention and the Development Agenda processes at UNESCO and WIPO, respectively, as well as the follow-up to the Millennium Summit’s commitments.

Author: --- (Pablo Accuosto)
Contact: accuosto@chasque.net
Source: ITeM
Date: 07/27/2005
Location: URUGUAY
Category: Members

(FIN/2005)

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