By CRIS LONDON, UK, 03 October 2003
After months of hard work and negotiations, the CRIS campaign can see some light at the end of a long, dark, eighteen months long WSIS tunnel. Paragraph 4 of the Draft Declaration reads: “Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation. It is central to the information society.” Sean O’Siochru, spokesperson for the CRIS campaign says: “We welcome the progress that has been made but call on all governments to ensure that communication as a central and crucial human activity remains in the final Declaration that will be presented at the Summit in December 2003.”
The CRIS campaign, while recognising the progress made by the WSIS in ensuring the participation of all stakeholders, including Civil Society, deplores the absence, removal or dilution of positions on issues that are core to communication rights, in particular the sections on Community Media, Intellectual Property Rights, Internet governance, “Information Security” and funding.
The final events that unfolded during the last days of Prepcom 3 in Geneva show what is at stake: strong disagreements between governments on these five key issues have led to the de facto breakdown of the intergovernmental talks. A press release by the ITU that has glossed over this breakdown confirms an additional week of negotiations in November (10th to 14th). Additionally the earmarking of specific themes such as Internet Governance as “on-going discussion” shows that consensus on core Summit issues has not been reached (2). For the CRIS campaign it is clear that communication rights, embedded in Human Rights, should be the bedrock of information and communication societies, as stated by the Civil Society press release dated 26th September 2003. Without these, the Summit vision of an Information Society will be meaningless.
The CRIS campaign therefore supports the call by Civil Society to President Samassékou, Chair of the World Summit on the Information Society, to ensure that a commitment to an adequate participation of Civil Society in the negotiation process be upheld and that the latter truly leads to an “input to impact” document, as referred to by the Chair himself in his opening speech during Prepcom 3. This impact will only be made real if the concerns of Civil Society are fully reflected in both the final Declaration and the Action Plan.
The CRIS campaign also supports fully and will participate actively in the elaboration of a Civil Society document that will be presented and launched at the Summit in December, as decided by the Civil Society Plenary during the final week of Prepcom 3. Additionally, CRIS, in partnership with others in Civil Society is coordinating the World Forum on Communication Rights that will take place in parallel to the Summit on 11th December 2003. Its aim is to engage with key issues that have only marginally featured on the Summit agenda but that are core to a people-centered “Information Society”. (3)
Note for the Editor:
(1) CRIS: (www.crisinfo.org) Communication Rights in the Information Society is a campaign launched by The Platform for Communication Rights, to ensure that Communication Rights are central to the “Information Society” and in particular to the forthcoming World Summit in the Information Society. Contact: Campaign Coordinator: Myriam Horngren: email@example.com tel: 44 (0) 207 582 9139
(2) Full ITU press release dated 26 September 2003:
(3) World Forum on Communication Rights: (www.communicationrights.org) : The Forum will take place in parallel to the WSIS on 11th December 2003 at Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland. For more information see website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org