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WSIS Follow up: APC contribution to the Secretary General's report on progress

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Por Anriette Esterhuysen (APC)
, June 2008

The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is one of the UN bodies that took up the follow up of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). This is APC’s contribution to a CSTD meeting where a report from the Secretary General on progress made in WSIS follow-up and implementation was presented, that took place on May 2007 in Geneva, as part of a series of WSIS follow-up meetings.

Thank you for giving us the floor and for enabling civil society participation in this process. We want to express our appreciation to those government representatives who have expressed support for civil society participation. We appreciate the proposal from El Salvador to extend the participation of non-governmental organisations in this forum.

The SG’s report provides a useful overview of progress made in WSIS follow-up and implementation. But it does not address the many barriers and challenges that limit successful implementation. We recommend that future reports focus specifically on such barriers and challenges, and suggest ways in which they can be overcome.

The regional overviews in the SG’s report are helpful, as were the inputs of the Regional Economic Commissions we heard yesterday.

APC appreciates the inclusion of a section on civil society involvement, and the specific mention of activities facilitated by APC, but we want to point out that there are many civil society organisations engaged in WSIS follow up and implementation activities. We recommend that the Secretary General considers compiling a report that reflects these activities.

APC agrees with ICC Basis and others that the current format and working-methods of the action line process should be revisited, and we concur that the IGF has been a very successful multi-stakeholder forum for deepening learning and debate on public policy issues related to internet governance.

What is particularly lacking in both the Action Line and CSTD processes are systematic reports of follow-up and implementation at national level.

While it is interesting to hear inputs from countries represented here today, it would be of greater use if national governments prepared progress reports, prior to WSIS follow up events in Geneva.

Such reports could use a common template, and include sections on the WSIS principles and other important priorities that were agreed on in during the WSIS, such as the importance of human rights in the information society.

The production, discussion and review of these reports could form the basis of national multi-stakeholder consultations on WSIS follow up and implementation.

National follow up forums can help to address the high cost of Geneva face-to-face meetings mentioned in the SG’s report. They can also serve to point to the need for specific capacity development at the level of national institutions who can influence effective follow up and implementation, for example, parliaments, regulators, consumer groups, industry and civil society networks. They could also facilitate a more effective use of delegates time at global follow up processes.

APC recognises that some member states are convening such national follow up processes, and producing their own reports, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

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