APC’s input to the WSIS+10 review process

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By APC (APC)
, September 2011

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcome documents and the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/252 resolved to conduct an overall review of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes in 2015. In this context, the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) is conducting an open consultation process with all WSIS stakeholders.

APC supports the WSIS process and remains committed to participating in the processes that emerged from the WSIS with a view to improving the process, promoting the participation of civil society and monitoring implementation of areas of most interest to APC. In this spirit, APC submitted the following contribution.

Please provide objectives, goals and possible outcomes of the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes.

The WSIS review process should:

  • Provide elements to assess the degree of progress towards achieving the WSIS and other internationally agreed goals in which ICTs have a role to play (in particular the MDGs and human rights agreements);
  • Provide elements to assess the participation of the various stakeholders in the implementation of the WSIS action lines;
  • Identify new priority areas that need to be considered in the WSIS+10 meeting.

The positions and contributions of all relevant stakeholders should be considered in the outcomes of the review process, which means that their effective participation has to be secured independently of their financial possibilities. Resources should also be made available to initiatives oriented towards promoting the expression and consideration of Southern and civil society voices in the process.

The official outcomes should include:

  • A ten-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the WSIS declaration and plan of action;
  • Agenda and proposed procedures for the work of the WSIS+10 Preparatory Committee (PrepComm).

These two documents should synthesise the contributions made by all the stakeholders in the review process. In addition, references should be provided to the contributions produced by all stakeholders as part of the official outcomes. We suggest that a web page is set up for this.

In the next months APC will be looking for additional financial resources in order to implement two new initiatives that would generate concrete contributions to the WSIS review process: a GISWatch 2015 report on WSIS+10 and a project that would build on the Civil Society Declaration to the WSIS.

The WSIS+10 special Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report will offer a critical analysis of the implementation of global and regional ICT policy agreements in the past 10 years, including the WSIS and also regional agreements such as the regional action plans and roadmaps that resulted from the regional conferences held in preparation of the second phase of the WSIS in Brazil (Latin America and the Caribbean), Ghana (Africa), Greece (Europe), Islamic Republic of Iran (Asia and the Pacific), Syria (Western Asia), as well as their follow-up processes. The report will also include more than 60 country studies (62 country reports will be included in the 2011 edition and new countries are incorporated each year) and, as in the first GISWatch edition, an overview of the main institutions and bodies in charge of the WSIS implementation will be included.

The GISWatch is an initiative generated by APC immediately after the second phase of the WSIS, in Tunisia. It has among its goals to monitor the progress made towards implementing the WSIS agenda and other international commitments related to information and communications. The first edition of the GISWatch report, in 2007, was focused on civil society participation in the WSIS process. In the preface to this report it is said that new forms of exclusion could be created if the voices of civil society are not heard in ICT policy processes at the global, regional and national levels. We continue to strongly believe that the meaningful involvement of civil society is essential in democratic policy debates.

The GISWatch report continued to be published each year since 2007. The 2011 report will be the fifth consecutive report of the series. Each year the GISWatch report is focused on one theme considered of particular relevance by the APC community and its partners. After the 2007 report on “participation in ICT processes”, reports on “access to infrastructure”, “access to online information and knowledge” and “ICTs and environmental sustainability” where published in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011 the GISWatch report will be focused on “human rights”.

The second project mentioned above is conceived as an opportunity to promote the active involvement of organisations working on communications rights in the WSIS+10 process and will produce input that we think can be considered as input for the official outcomes. It will be based on a review of the civil society declaration Shaping information societies for human needs. This declaration was developed by organisations participating in the WSIS process after the finalisation of the first summit in December 2003 in Geneva.

In the context of this project, an interactive platform will be incorporated into the GISWatch website to gather information from civil society organisations –in addition to the information that is provided each year by the GISWatch partners- in order to measure the perception of the distance between civil society’s goals, the commitments agreed by the international community and their effective implementation. A new index would be developed to communicate this perception, which would be included each year in the GISWatch report as an advocacy tool.

While this will be a civil-society-driven review, the philosophy will be one of engagement and collaboration in multi-stakeholder environments. Rather than competing with initiatives such as the partnership to measure the information society, it will be aimed at complementing it with the perspective of civil society.

As mentioned above, the development of these initiatives is conditioned to the possibility of securing funds for them.

Please indicate what type of meeting(s) should be held within the framework of the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes.

APC would like to suggest that the WSIS review process is conducted at global but also at regional and national levels. An effective way to do this would be to link the WSIS review and the regional Internet governance forum processes, which have emerged in the last five years as relevant multistakeholder platforms for policy dialogue around internet governance and ICT4D issues, embracing and respecting the WSIS principles. Linking the WSIS and IGF processes would contribute to not only identify the various national and regional priorities in order to bring them to the global arenas but also encourage greater exchange, dialogue and complementarities between them. We are convinced both process share similar challenges in addressing related internet global policies and might be mutually benefited by such linkage.

To make sure that and all relevant stakeholders –and, in particular, civil society organisations- can effectively contribute to the process, additional resources need to be channelled to the WSIS review process at regional level. In particular, UN regional commissions should express their commitment with the WSIS review process by providing the necessary means to ensure the participation of all stakeholders.

Collaboration with governments and other stakeholders is also essential in order to implement review process at national level. UN bodies at the different levels (national, regional, global) should find effective ways to promote and support national WSIS reviews in order to really open up the process to all interested parties.

Please describe the type of preparatory process that might be proposed for the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes.

The WSIS Action line implementation and follow up process needs to continue to be a constructive platform for shared learning, collaboration, networking and monitoring of the Geneva Action Plan and Tunis Agenda. Processes should be:

  • Participatory – for example, by putting clear mechanisms in place for the effective engagement and inclusion of all the interested parties, particularly of developing countries actors in way that allow to fully integrate the multistakeholder approach in WSIS follow up and implementation at all levels.
  • Proactive – for example, by coordinating initiatives across agencies and stakeholder communities.
  • Analytical – for example, by addressing a small number of specific issues in detail.
  • Evaluative – for example, by monitoring activity related to WSIS outcomes.
  • Informative – for example, by facilitating exchange of information between participants.

Please provide a timeline for the Overall Review Process and all proposed meetings.

  • National preparatory meetings (2012 – 2014)
  • Regional preparatory meetings (2012 – 2014)
  • Global preparatory meetings (2012 – 2014)

We suggest that each year the meetings are focused on the implementation of four of the WSIS action lines, making “human rights and the internet” a transversal theme for all the meetings.

Please provide other comments, if any.

It is important to consider that organisations such as APC require specific funds to be able to carry on their work in this area and developed projects such as the special report on WSIS+10 and the review of the WSIS civil society declaration, as mentioned above.

We believe these initiatives –and others, developed by other stakeholders- to be relevant contributions to the official review process and would therefore like to propose that concrete resources are channelled to them. We estimate that for the civil society declaration review USD 40,000 need to be raised while the estimated budget for the GISWatch WSIS+10 special report is of USD 200,000.

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