MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, 28 October 2005
The Third World Institute (ITeM) organised the debate panel “WSIS within the context of global ICT governance processes”, during the third meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Preparatory Committee (19-30 September, Geneva, Switzerland). The event took place in the Palais des Nations, Room XXII, at 13:00 and was moderated by ITeM’s director, Roberto Bissio.
The purpose of this panel was to present and debate from the outcomes of ITeM’s project “WSIS Papers”. This project intends to contribute to involve different actors of Southern countries in debates, negotiation and policy definitions within the WSIS process, thus providing visibility to the perspectives and specific needs of the developing world.
The presentations contributed to the panel covered the main themes being debated in the second phase of WSIS, as well as their ties with other multilateral processes that heavily impact on the global governance of ICTs. The panellists presented research carried out within the framework of the project.
Gustavo Gómez, director of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters’ (AMARC) legislative Project in Latin America, reflected on cultural diversity as a fundamental component of the information society. He argued in favour of the inclusion of mechanisms to promote and guarantee cultural diversity in the documents being debated in WSIS. He also exposed the need for deeper involvement in the negotiation processes that are taking place within the scope of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and which will have important an repercussion on cultural diversity. In this sense, he identified the WTO processes and free trade agreements as a threat for countries from the South and the UNESCO Convention on Diversity as an opportunity to be seized.
Ana Laura Rivoir, a researcher from the Universidad de la República, in Uruguay, mentioned the current Latin American perspectives regarding the information and knowledge society in her presentation. She raised the issue of the impact these differential approaches have on the creation and implementation of information society policies in the region.
Carlos Afonso, RITS’ planning director in Brazil and member of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), described Brazil’s approach regarding internet governance. Among developing countries, Brazil has been one of the most open promoters of these issues. In this sense, the Brazilian vision is characterised by the search for multi-sector alternatives to the current governance model.
Parminder Jeet Singh, from the Indian organisation IT for Change, exposed the need to contextualise ICT policy within a political economy framework as a new approach for considering the information society in the South. He shed light on some of the fallacies of the models used to date in the field of ICT for development and argued in support of the need to construct a new multidimensional perspective on the subject, more in tune with the local contexts of the South.
Sangeeta Shashikant, from the Third World Network, in Malaysia, discussed the impact of intellectual property systems on the access to knowledge and presented the proposal for a "Development Agenda", defended by developing nations in the context of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The importance of this proposal relies on the fact that it is the beginning of a reform process of existing intellectual property regimes, which, in many cases, neutralise the possibilities of development for countries of the South.
Finally, Anna Badimo, founder of LinuxChix Africa in South Africa, expounded the dynamics of the ICT – development link, placing special emphasis on the need to coordinate national ICT strategies with national and regional development strategies, in light of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations. She also presented a series of examples where free and open source software based applications contributed to finding appropriate solutions for local development needs (especially in the fields of health and education).
This panel was developed thanks to the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which finances the “WSIS Papers” project, and contributions made by Bread for All / Pain pour le prochain.
Documents available online at: http://www.wsispapers.choike.org/