UN World Summit on the Information Society: What’s going on in Geneva right now? (Part I)

By CIPP GENEVA, Switzerland,

A cluster of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
implementation meetings is taking place in Geneva from May 14 to 25.
Part of the APC crew is there, ensuring that “the strong development
orientation” promised by organising agencies goes beyond paper. Themes
and action lines stemming from agreed-upon documents are being
discussed. Read APC’s input to three action lines that took place as
part of a meeting on May 16.

The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society
states that the WSIS implementation mechanism at the international
level should be organised taking into account the themes and action lines in the Geneva Plan of Action, and moderated or facilitated by UN agencies when appropriate.

Here is the text of APC’s input into the action line C2 (infrastructure) meeting convened on 16 May by ITU as a joint facilitation meeting with C4 (capacity building) and C6 (enabling environment).

Joint Facilitation Meeting on Action Lines C2, C4 & C6

APC proposal on C2: Information and Communication Infrastructure

By Willie Currie

 APC welcomes the opportunity to participate alongside the ITU as a
co-facilitator of this action line.  We welcomed the invitation last
year from ITU to play this role, and feel strongly that, if action line
processes are to have value, they need engagement from across the
stakeholder spectrum.  That is potentially what gives them added value.

When we met last year, we discussed a number of different possible
areas which this action line might pursue.  These are listed in the
paper which has been presented by the ITU.  At last year’s meeting, we
also discussed ways in which the action line community might be able to
add something different to what was being done by other organisations
and in other fora.

Clearly, we felt last year, there was little point in duplicating work
that was being done elsewhere.  Clearly, too, given how few resources
are available for action line activity, there was little point in
committing ourselves to activities we could not afford to run.  What
this process could do was limited – but it could build on the diversity
of participants who were present.

I don’t think much has changed over the last twelve months.  Those points remain true.

So where does the potential added value of the action line process
lie?  For us, it lies in the potential to bring together different
interested parties to discuss critical issues which are not necessarily
being fully discussed elsewhere.  To explore the interfaces between
different policy issues, the different perceptions which different
stakeholders hold about them; the challenges which they represent for
the future.

We can’t implement projects; but that way we can make a contribution to
the implementation that is underway, and that has been described in the
ITU presentation.

So what does it require?  Two things:

First, we need to have clarity on the issues that might be explored, in
the spirit of multi-stakeholder participation pioneered at WSIS.

Second, we need to have commitment on the part of enough people to engage seriously with the issues that we choose.

With both these things, I think that we can do something worthwhile. 
Without, we can’t.  And I think it would be best to leave today knowing
what we think in answer to both these questions.

I have a couple of suggestions which we in APC think it might be
possible to explore through multi-stakeholder discussion and

a) Open access

By open access, I mean the competitive, non-discriminatory provision of
infrastructure at the physical layer, open access to software at the
logical layer and open access to knowledge at the content layer.

b) The economics of infrastructure

The issue of financing ICT for development was explored in the WSIS
Task Force on Financial Mechanisms report. There are important issues
regarding the economics of infrastructure that need further exploration
over and above the debate over public vs private finance.

Author: —- (CIPP)
Contact: communications@apc.org
Source: CIPP
Date: 05/23/2007
Location: GENEVA, Switzerland
Category: Internet Rights

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