WORLD SUMMIT ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
 

Summit Outcomes 

WSIS Summit I, Geneva, 10-12 December 2003
Official Decisions: Geneva Declaration of Principles | Geneva Plan of Action
WSIS Civil Society Summit Declaration "Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs"
  presented to the WSIS Summit, 12 December 2003
  english: rtf | pdf  french: rtf | pdf  spanish: rtf | pdf  arabic: pdf

WSIS Summit II, Tunis, 16-18 November 2005
Official Decisions: Tunia Commitment | Tunis Agenda

WSIS Civil Society Statement on WSIS: "Much more could have been achieved"
 
submitted to the WSIS Secretariat, 23 December 2005
  english: pdf | doc  french: doc | pdf  spanish: doc | pdf


 
 
  Worldsummit2005.org says "Good Bye"
Website will not be updated anymore, but stays online
16 January 2006. With the closure of the official world summit process in 2005, the job of this website is also over. We have monitored, analyzed and commented on the summit process for three years, and along the way have learnt and experienced a lot and also moved some things. Now, the funding has run out, and the people engaged here are moving on to new tasks. Therefore, this website will not be updated on a regular basis anymore, but will stay available. Read the farewell greetings from Olga Drossou, who has worked with us and funded the website for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and from Ralf Bendrath, who had the editor's job for the three years.

Creating Spaces for Civil Society in the WSIS
A Reply to Michael Gurstein
By Willie Currie
22 December 2005. A look at civil society participation in WSIS must not assume that everyone was only there just to network. Willie Currie points out that civil society groups had sufficient strategic sense to understand the power dynamics, and that their interventions made a material difference to the outcomes of WSIS. This text
is a reply to a critical look at the "networking of the networked" by Michael Gurstein. More.

Networking the Networked/Closing the Loop
Some Notes on WSIS II
By Michael Gurstein
22 December 2005. Those who did attend the WSIS Summits in Geneva and Tunis indicated that the major and lasting benefit that they saw arising from their attendance was the networking opportunities that it afforded. Michael Gurstein takes a critical look at who is being networked to whom and for what purpose. 
More. | Also read the reply by Willie Currie.

"Much more could have been achieved"
Civil Society Finishes Assessment of Summit Outcomes
19 December 2005. Exactly one month after the closure of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, the civil society groups active in the summit process have issued a comprehensive statement that evaluates the official outcomes and process. The assessment builds on the 2003 Civil Society Summit Declaration "Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs", and it was developed in a global online consultation process after initial drafting during the summit in Tunis. It is presented as Civil Society's official contribution to the Summit outcomes and will be submitted to the WSIS executive secretariat. More...

Civil Society and the Post-WSIS Agenda
A Side-Event by the Heinrich Böll Foundation
1 December 2005. The Heinrich Böll Foundation had organized a side-event at the summit, called "Towards a sustainable and inclusive Knowledge Society - How to get there from WSIS?" It brought together a number of key civil society actors from inside and outside the WSIS process for a lively discussion, and it closed with the launch of a new publication: Our book "Visions in Process II". More...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part II 
Rik and Ralf's Take on the WSIS
By Ralf Bendrath and Rik Panganiban
28 November 2005. In December 2003, we put together a listing of the high and low points from the Geneva World Summit on the Information Society, which we called "How Was the Summit?"  In that same spirit, we submit to you our very personal take on the best and worst of the Tunis WSIS. More... 

Civil Society Statement on WSIS
Draft available, input sought by 27 November
23 November 2005. The WSIS Civil Society Plenary on 15th November decided to draft a statement which would assess the summit outcomes, based on the alternative declaration civil society had produced during the first summit in Geneva in 2003. During the three days of WSIS an open-ended drafting group met in the NGO space at the summit. The first draft of the statement was presented to the last Civil Society Plenary on 18 November, which decided that the work should continue online for w few weeks.
If you wish to make contributions, send your "tracked changes" on the document to cs-dec@wsis-cs.org by 27 November. We are also looking for voluntary translators to produce French and other versions soon.

Civil Society Best Practices to bridge the digital divide
Evaluations of the involvement in WSIS
By Charlotte Dany
23 November 2005. Now that the World Summit on the Information Society has come to an end in Tunis, civil society organisations evaluate their involvement in the process to learn from the experiences made. Several side events of WSIS addressed examples of best practices of civil society participation. In sharing good experiences, while not neglecting challenges, civil society organisations may improve their performance in the future. WSIS is not the end, but the starting point for the implementation process in which civil society is supposed to play a crucial role as partner to governments and the private sector. Putting for once aside debates on the lack of influence and experiences of repression, some positive vibes seem to be appropriate, to shape this future process in an effective and fruitful way. More...

"The End of the Beginning" - WSIS is over
Documents adopted, Civil Society preparing assessment
18 November 2005. The World Summit on the Information Society has ended half an hour ago. The governmental delegates adopted the Tunis Commitment and Tunis Agenda by acclamation. Civil society groups in their closing plenary this afternoon have agreed on two more works to produce a comprehensive evaluation of the summit outcomes. The caravan will move on, though. The next stop, already agreed, will be Athens. But before that, we recommend to take some time for reflections. More.

Civil Society groups reflect on WSIS process
Where to Next?
18 November 2005. As the WSIS summit draws to a close, civil society groups are reflecting on the past but also looking at the road ahead. In a gathering organised by the CRIS Campaign on Friday afternoon, key participants of the civil society processes of the past 4 years proposed ways of keeping up the pressure and making sure that the visions that were developed around the WSIS process will be implemented. The event highlighted a wide variety of projects that will keep civil society actors busy during the upcoming months and years. More...

The panel I never attended
About a journey of a WSIS participant who tried to seize the day
By Johannes Schunter
18 November 2005. As the summit had reached its final hours, I intended to select carefully which event I should attend at this afternoon's last time slot for parallel events. My choice was the panel "IS & sustainable development" which was announced to take place in the room "Sidi Bou Said" at 15:00. More...

The WSIS "High Level Panel"
A missed opportunity? A comparison of two panel events
17 November 2005. The High Level Panel on ICT for Development turned out to be not so "high level" after all. A closer look on the less pretentious parallel events sometimes can be much more worthwhile than just striving for the big titles. An event by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) focused on the same issues and certainly gave more answers. More...

"Art and Free Knowledge" event in Tunis
When Richard Stallman and Gilberto Gil sing a duet...
17 November 2005. ... then we are probably not at the WSIS government plenary but at a summit side-event. "The Third Paradise" is a series of events on art and free knowledge, taking place at an impressive traditional building in the old town of Tunis. On Thursday evening, free software hero Richard Stallman and the Brazilian singer and Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil met each other for a memorable encounter... More...

One long month of hunger strike for three basic democratic objectives
Increasing international support for eight Tunesian opposition leaders on strike
By Christine Wenzel
17 November 2005. Freedom of speech and press, Freedom of Association, Freeing political prisoners. This is not asked for much, it is a minimum standard for a working democracy. Is it? Apparently it is too much to ask for in a regime such as Tunisia. What we experience these days is just the tip of the ice berg: Eight opposition leaders were so desperate in their situation to start a hunger strike on 18 October - that's about 30 days ago - to call for help and international support and attention. The situation is serious. One of the strikers fainted and was brought to hospital last Monday at the very hour, when some German civil society representatives had a chance to visit the scene and speak to the people. More...

The citizens summit is dead - long live the citizens summit!
CSIS press conference becomes major human rights gathering
16/17 November 2005. The Tunisian authorities have done all they can to prevent civil society events outside the Kram exhibition centre. But on Wednesday and Thursday, civil society activists finally succeeded in getting the upper hand against state repression. A press conference to announce the cancellation of the Citizens Summit (CSIS) transformed into a major human rights event and was followed on the next day by a rally by oppositional groups. More...

Summit Agenda switching to "ICT and development"
Governments use final statements to reiterate their pet subjects.
16 November 2005. With the final Tunis documents surprisingly being adopted in Tuesday night's session, the so far dominant summit agenda of Internet Governance now suddenly seems to switch again to the development aspects of ICT. As countries make their final statements to the 2-year process, the development agenda regains its urgency. More...

"Visions in Process II" released at World Summit
New Publication of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
16 November 2005. A new book brings together assessments by women from around the world who have been involved in various civil society constituencies created during the WSIS process. Their contributions reflect on controversies within the discourses of governments and civil society on issues that lie at the core of the summit's declared vision of a people-centred, development-oriented, and inclusive Information Society: human rights, development and participation.
The publication was released today at the parallel event "Towards a sustainable and inclusive Knowledge Society. How to get there from WSIS?", organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. More...
Download the book (pdf, 4.3 MB)

Second WSIS summit officially opened
Kofi Annan: Challenges are political, not financial -
Ben Ali receives deep criticism for Tunisian human rights record
16 November 2005. The second World Summit on the Information Society has started. On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Tunisian President Ben Ali opened what has been named the "summit of solutions". Swiss President Samuel Schmid and civil society representative Shirin Ebadi openly criticized the Tunsian authorities for their repressive acts against local and international civil society. More...

Negotiations finished - Summit opened
16 November 2005. The governmental negotiations have - to the surprise of many observers - now already been finished last night, twelve hours before the summit was opened. Civil society groups have started preparing their own summit statement, which will be presented on Friday.
Summit Documents: Tunis Commitment (political part) | Tunis Agenda (operational part)

Negotiations closer to agreement
Consensus on Internet Governance Forum and - almost - ICANN oversight
15 November 2005. The PrepCom negotiations today have led to important steps forward an agreement. While governments are still struggling about the question of who gets political oversight over the technical core of the Internet, there is consensus now on the establishment of an "Internet Governance Forum". More...

"Abnormal Circumstances"
Civil Society Organisations cancel events, protesting human rights violations in Tunisia
By Charlotte Dany
15 November 2005. In reaction to the human rights violations yesterday in Tunis, many civil society organisations decided to cancel their long-prepared panels at WSIS today in solidarity with the Tunisian civil society. Yesterday, two private civil society meetings in Tunis have been prevented or hindered by the police. Human rights activists and journalists have been harassed, and websites, including the one of the Citizens Summit on the Information Society (CSIS)
, have been blocked inside of Tunisia. More... |
Statement by the CSIS organizing group: english | french

Broadcast Media in the Information Society?
World Electronic Media Forum
15 November 2005. 15 November 2005. One day before the start of the WSIS summit, the World Electronic Media Forum has opened its doors. The Forum, which takes place within the summit compound and as an official parallel event, is a two-day conference to highlight the important role of traditional media in the information society. Critical voices, however, will be rare at this mainstream media event.
. Mehr...

Meeting Tunisian civil society - and Tunisian secret police
The strategy of intimidation
14 November 2005. Participants of a workshop organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women have experienced the everyday reality of social-political activism under an authoritarian repressive regime. At least 40-50 plain-clothes police and security agents blocked the entrance of the building where the meeting was to take place, pushed away by-standers, and generated an atmosphere of intimidation. Meanwhile, seven human rights activists are still on hunger strike. More...

Tunisian authorities escalate conflict with civil society
Citizens Summit meeting blocked
14 November 2005. As the WSIS summit draws closer, the Tunisian authorities are continuing to prevent any civil society events taking place outside the summit compound. This morning, Tunisian police blocked the Goethe Institut where a preparation meeting for the Citizens Summit was to take place. Even the head of the German government delegation was not allowed to access the building. The delegations of the European Union are showing active support to the Citizens Summit. More...

PrepCom3 has re-convened
Trying to find common ground under chaotic circumstances
13 November 2005. The preparatory meeting for the WSIS summit has re-convened today. Governments are trying to find more common ground, especially on the most contested issue of Internet governance. Conditions for working here are not really good, though. More...

Tunisian Authorities block our Side-Event
Harassment can lead to summit being not in Tunisia, but about Tunisia
9 November 2005. The Heinrich Böll Foundation had planned a meeting for our partners in Tunis on 14 November 2005. This by-invitation-only event was supposed to take place at the cultural centre "El Teatro", which had been booked for this purpose month ago.
News has just reached us that the management of El Teatro was instructed by the authorities not to host the meeting due to "security reasons." More...

Kofi Annan: The UN is no threat to the net
"To defend the Internet is to defend freedom itself"
5 November 2005. The fight about Internet Governance and who should control ICANN has reached the highest political level. Recently, US president George W. Bush had already raised this issue, and now UN secretary general Kofi Annan is fighting back in an article in the Washington Post. He says: "Much as some would like to open up another front of attack on the United Nations, this dog of an argument won't bark." Read the article.

The US factor in the WSIS needs highlighting as much as the Tunisian factor
By Parminder Jeet Singh
3 November 2005. Parminder Jeet Singh from the Indian NGO "IT for Change" is taking a look at the big picture two weeks before the summit. He is linking the debates around Internet Governance, WSIS follow-up, developmental aspects and Tunisia with the focus of civil society groups active in the summit process. His conclusion: The United States need at least as much criticism as the Tunisian authorities. The article is based on a mail sent to the WSIS civil society plenary mailing list two days ago. More...

United Nations Share Concerns about Human Rights in Tunisia
Kofi Annan answers to open letter from Civil Society
29 October 2005. Steve Buckley from the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) yesterday received a letter from UN secretary general Kofi Annan in response both to an IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group letter of 2 September and to the WSIS civil society letter of 1 October which had over 100 signatories. Annan makes clear that many of the serious concerns of civil society, which the Tunisian government continues to describe as unfounded, are shared at the highest level of the UN.
Open letter from Civil Society, 1 October 2005 (rtf): english | french | spanish | italian | endorsements
Answer from Kofi Annan, 28 October 2005 (pdf)

WSIS and Beyond
A dialogue between Soenke Zehle & Geert Lovink
27 October 2005. Soenke Zehle and Geert Lovink have organized the Incommunicado Conference in June 2005 (see our report) as the kick-off event for a larger network of critical and progressive media and Internet activists and researchers. They currently are finalizing an Incommunicado Reader and a DVD which will be launched at the WSIS summit. They discuss the role of civil society in the WSIS and beyond and, among other questions, ask "What makes it so hard to be a little bit more creative, crazy and innovative?" More...

NGOs plan "Citizens' Summit" in Tunis
International Event from 16 to 18 November 2005, parallel to WSIS Summit
24 October 2005. A coalition of civil society organizations today announced they will hold a major parallel event when the WSIS summit meets in Tunis less than four weeks from now. This development was triggered by two developments: The first is a lack of meaningful civil society inclusion in the preparatory process, as again was stated publicly during the last meeting of the PrepCom in September. The second reason is the growing suppression of independent voices in the summit host country Tunisia. The "Citizens' Summit on the Information Society (CSIS)" is therefore organized together with independent Tunisian civil society groups. More...
Announcement of the Citizens' Summit: (rtf): English | French | Spanish | Arabic

Details on Final Negotiations before the Summit
Civil Society exclusion getting worse
11 October 2005. The WSIS intergovernmental bureau yesterday has decided about the details of the final stage of negotiations. These are needed after PrepCom3 less than two weeks ago failed to reach an agreement on Internet Governance and the follow-up structure for the summit. More...

PrepCom closes in Disarray
Internet Governance and Follow-Up after Summit still open
30 September 2005. The last preparatory conference, less than 60 days before the Tunis summit, ended tonight at 21:00 without an agreement. The open questions will have to be dealt with in the time before Tunis - and basically without civil society participation. More...

Debate over Internet governance gets to the core
EU states try mediation attempt, but US brushes them off
29 September 2005. While the last Preparation Conference to the WSIS has only one day left to produce real results that could be presented at the Tunis Summit in November, an agreement on future mechanisms for the regulation of the Internet is still far from reach. Frontlines are drawn between a status quo position and the establishment of a new UN oversight body for Internet regulations. It is a battle between an isolated, but determined United States government and the developing world, in which the EU, Canada and Civil Society try to mediate. More...

Growing Concerns About Summit Host Country Tunisia
Civil Society Groups and Governments react
28 September 2005. The summit host country Tunisia has not tried to improve its human rights record, and the Tunisian authorities are actively obstructing the work of civil society groups - even in Geneva. Western governments are currently preparing a strong reaction, and independent activists are thinking about not going to the summit at all. They are also looking for signatures for an open letter to Kofi Annan. More...

Civil Society Issues Strong Protest Against Exclusion
From procedural uncertainty to open confrontation about principles
27 September 2005. The uncertainty connected with the speculation about the final decision regarding the presence of civil society members in drafting groups has finally turned into an open confrontation. Civil society representatives read a formal protest statement at the end of the open plenary this morning. The statement contained clear language about the exclusion of "non-governmental stakeholders from meaningful participation in the drafting groups" being "not acceptable as a matter of principle". More...

Decision on closed drafting groups delayed
Small ad-hoc groups open for observers, but final decision may come
26 September 2005. After intense discussions during the weekend Civil Society was anxiously awaiting the announcement of the PrepCom's decision on whether or not Civil Society groups will be locked out from drafting groups in the ongoing sessions of the Subcommittees finalizing the text of the Tunis summit declaration. More...

ITU's role shrinking?
The ITU seems to disappear from the WSIS process, it seems
25 September. If you believe this picture taken at the PrepCom opening plenary last Monday has anything to say, it seems the ITU's role in the WSIS is becoming smaller. Thanks to Robert Guerra for shooting it.

Drafting on "Internet Governance" is starting
Governments forming drafing groups, civil society probably locked out again
23 September 2005. After some days of general comments and discussions, the PrepCom will finally start drafting the Internet Governance chapter on Monday. Chairman Masood Khan this morning presented a paper as basis for further negotiations. Civil society is very upset about the clear danger it gets locked out of the drafting process again. More...

Governments Drop Serious Commitments to Implementation
Civil Society input not taken into account
21 September 2005. The PrepCom subcommittee that currently is working on the implementation and follow-up part of the summit documents today has dropped the language for serious follow-up to the summit. Civil Society groups were overrun by the accelerated speed of the negotiations and could not give their input anymore. More...

Civil Society Adapting to Changes in WSIS Process
Governments have started negotiations today
20 September 2005. The WSIS PrepCom has moved to subcommittee mode today and has started negotiations on Internet Governance and Implementation. Civil society groups have adapted to the new structure and are mirroring the negotiations now. They submitted their statements and made clear that they insist on a full and effective participation in any process following the Tunis summit. Governments at the moment are pretty open to this, it seems. More...

Last Battle before the Summit
PrepCom3 has started - fights about Internet Governance and Implementation expected
19 September 2005. The third and last meeting of the Preparatory committee for the WSIS (PrepCom-3) has started two hours ago. The upcoming two weeks will see major struggles around the hot topics Internet Governance and summit follow-up. The chances for progress are less than slim, and civil society is already discussing if and when it should leave the official drafting exercise. In the meantime, the PrepCom was almost blocked over the non-accreditation of the NGO Human Rights in China. More...

After Tunis: A summit without implementation and civil society?
Committment to Implementation and Multi-Stakeholder approach dropped from Documents, Civil Society Groups Voice Protest
2 September 2005. Civil society groups active in the WSIS have voiced their protest against a serious development related to the Tunis summit outcomes. The latest draft for the summit document on implementation and follow-up are lacking a meaningful commitment to implementation, and they also are a serious setback for the multi-stakeholder approach. More...

WSIS Host Country Again Threatens Journalists
Tunisian authorities try to stop first congress of independent journalists' syndicate
29 August 2005. The Tunisia Monitoring Group of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX-TMG) calls on the Tunisian government to allow the independent Tunisian Journalists' Syndicate to hold its congress. The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) is deeply troubled by the Tunisian authorities' recent decision to prevent the independent Tunisian Journalists' Syndicate from holding its first congress, which is planned in Tunis on 7 September 2005. More...

Power, Legitimacy, and the Future of the Internet
What Next after the Working Group on Internet Governance?
19 August 2005. The Working Group on Internet Governance has fulfilled its mandate from the Geneva information society summit. What can be learned from this innovative multi-stakeholder process, and how are the chances "Internet governance" does not end up as the struggle between the United States and some Southern governments about the control of ICANN and the root zone file? The WGIG report was presented to all stakeholders in an open discussion in Geneva on 18 July, and more consultations were held on 20 July. A few days ago, the period for submitting written comments ended. The cards are more or less on the table now for the negotiations during PrepCom-3 in September. A number of civil society groups have filed comments, and especially the Internet Governance Caucus has discussed many aspects and possible future issues at length. More... | Worldsummit2005.org on Internet Governance

Deadlines for PrepCom3 and Tunis Summit
Fellowships, Comments and Accreditation to Close Soon
26 July 2005. A couple of deadlines are approaching fast for participation and giving input to the upcoming WSIS events. Participants and interested parties who want to go to PrepCom3 in September, and entities who want to comment on the recently published report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) or give other input have to meet certain important dates. More...

WSIS Report on Internet Governance released
Strong on human rights and inclusion, clear against U.S. control
18 July 2005. The WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), set up after the first summit failed to agree on the future governance mechanisms of the Internet, has released its report on Friday. Though it contains strong language on human rights protection and help for developing countries and other stakeholders, the group has failed to agree on a suggestion for the future of ICANN and the oversight of the technical core of the Internet. But it unanimously calls for an end of unilateral U.S. control. The report is being discussed in Geneva today, comments and proposals will be accepted until 15 August, and full-blown negotiations will start at PrepCom3 in September. More...

European NGOs send open letters to EU
Call for Inclusion in WSIS follow-up, Protection of Human Rights
13 July 2005. The European WSIS Civil Society Caucus has sent an open letter to the EU commissioner for the information society, Viviane Reding, last Friday. In the letter, the European NGOs ask for further support for civil society involvement in the WSIS process, especially in building a "strong and much needed regional network for the WSIS implementation and monitoring process". The European Caucus also asks for a "constant and constructive dialogue with the EU" about the next summit host country Tunisia. The big picture might have changed, though, due to the London bombings. European Digital Rights and Privacy International have therefore written another open letter yesterday, urging the EU to stop plans for mandatory telecommunications surveillance. More...

US Government wants to keep Internet control
Heavy discussions around and beyond no-yet released WGIG report
4 July 2005. The United States government has kicked off another round of heated discussions about Internet governance. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Gallagher on 30 June announced that his government clearly intends to keep the final control over the root zone file that lists all top-level domain entries. This move came a bit unexpected, and the experts are now discussing what the implications will be for the upcoming ICANN meeting and the release of the report of the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance
. More...

One step backwards
From Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships to Public-Private Ones
By Heike Jensen
28 June 2005. The WSIS Thematic Meeting announced on the ITU web site as "Government of Germany - International Policy Dialogue: 'Mainstreaming ICT for Development: the Key Role of the Private Sector'," drew about 50 participants to Berlin on 21 and 22 June. It departed decisively from the WSIS framework of multi-stakeholderism and focused on public-private partnerships (PPPs). Civil society participants were allowed to attend, but their interest in this two-day event seemed next to non-existent. They did not miss much, except good food and very interesting conversations during the breaks. More...

Discussions on Implementation and Follow-Up After WSIS
Role of civil society contested, activists locked out of next meetings
27 June 2005. Discussions on how to proceed after the second WSIS summit in November are getting more urgent. There is a danger of this question to be lost due to the dominance of financing and internet governance negotiations in the second phase of WSIS. A recent meeting of the "Group of the Friends of the Chair" (GFC) in Geneva tried to bring some clarity, but a consensus is still far away. Meanwhile, civil society groups are lamenting the fact that they will be locked of the next GFC meetings. More...

WSIS as a case of information capitalism?
Critical Perspectives at Incommunicado Conference
22 June 2005. A conference in Amsterdam last week brought together many info-activists and critical intellectuals for reflections on the "information for development" discourse. Themes of the "Incommunicado" event
ranged from multi-stakeholderism at WSIS to the global political economy of information. It also was the largest gathering of people involved inside and outside the WSIS that provided a critical look at "the big picture". Timing was well, as discussions like this have been going on implicitly and informally for a while. More...

Creativity is more than a business model
Vienna WSIS conference on "ICT and Creativity" had lively debate
3 June 2005. The Austrian government has hosted a WSIS contributory conference on "ICTs and Creativity" that ended today. Though the organizers had invited many more corporate representatives than civil society activists and real creative people, the draft "Vienna Conclusions" started an interesting discussion about concepts like "content" or "creativity". Austrian civil society has produced it's own "Vienna Declaration" on information freedom in the meantime. More.

EU listening to Civil Society on WSIS, Development and Internet Governance
Meetings in Brussels and Strasburg went well
27 May 2005. The European Union had meetings with civil society on different levels recently. The WSIS rapporteur for the European Parliament met with Civil Society Caucus representative Jean-Louis Fullsack in Strasburg, and the High-Level Internet Governance Group had a successful meeting with several caucus members in Brussels on Tuesday. More...

From Russia with Recommendations
NGOs meet at UNESCO's WSIS conference in St. Petersburg
21 May 2005. A conference "between the summits" organized UNESCO in St. Petersburg, Russia, last weekend, had a lively discussion on the role of content on the Internet. Another heated topic were multi-stakeholder partnerships. A comprehensive report can be found on Rik Panganiban's blog. Participants of the roundtable on the Role of NGOs in the Information society issued a recommentation on the role of UNESCO in the WSIS follow-up. We document it here.

European Union listening more to Civil Society
Draft Parliament Report on WSIS, Consultations on Internet Governance promising
2 May 2005. The European Union is listening more closely to civil society organizations than it used to. The EU's "High Level Group on Internet Governance" will hold an open consultation with civil society on 24th May, and a new draft report from the European Parliament is recommending "to strengthen the involvement of European civil society in the build-up of the Tunis summit." More...

Summit plans are getting closer
Deadline for side-events is 30 April, civil society discusses participation
27 April 2005. The WSIS summit meeting in Tunis is only half a year away, and the planning for this major event is becoming more concrete. Though the deadline for registering official side-events is already in three days, many civil society groups are struggling to decide how and if they can and will participate. The Civil Society Bureau in the meantime has submitted an official document on how the summit should be organized and what will and will not be acceptable. More...

Internet Governance Debate Moving to Next Stage
WGIG has started to discuss recommendations
20 April 2005. The Working Group on Internet Governance has had its third meeting on the last three days in Geneva. The discussion is now moving from mapping the internet governance landscape of institutions and stakeholders towards assessments and recommendations. Monday's session was conducted as an open consultation, yesterday and today the group was meeting in private. Expectedly, a few conflicts surfaced again, which mainly circled around the role of different stakeholders, the question of a new organisational framework, and the Multilateralization of the core Internet resources. But progress can be observed.
More... | Worldsummit2005.org resources and news on Internet Governance

People at the WSIS events
Faces to the Names
4 April 2005. Maud Hand from APC has interviewed a number of people at the recent PrepCom2 who have been particpating actively in the WSIS process. The outcome is a nice photo gallery that links faces to all the names you find in articles and on mailing lists.
APC / Maud Hand: WSIS - Snapshots from PrepCom 2

Civil Society and the Multi-Stakeholderism
Discussion emerging about opportunities and strange bedfellows
29 March 2005. Civil Society involved in WSIS has finally started to discuss the strategic and political implications of multi-stakeholder processes like the World Summit on the Information Society. Besides the usual "we have to be involved if we have the chance", there is a lot of scepticism, but not yet a full understanding of how to use these new structures in global governance. More...

The Internet: The Infrastructure of Democracy
A Civil Society Manifesto from the Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security
10 March 2005. The Government of Spain is currently hosting the "International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security".
Some civil society people at the Madrid summit have drafted a document they have called "The Infrastructure of Democracy". The key idea is nicely phrased in the very first subtitle: "The Internet is a foundation of democratic society in the 21st century, because the core values of the Internet and democracy are so closely aligned." The team is now asking for feedback. More...

World Bank Says Digital Divide is Narrowing Rapidly
Recommends Public Sector Reform Funding Instead
By Rik Panganiban

6 March 2005. A draft report released by the World Bank maintains that mobile telephony is rapidly shrinking the digital divide and that the main role of governments is to clear a path for private investment. The report basically calls into question the point of having a UN world conference on bridging the digital divide. More...

Vision lost or Back to Reality?
PrepCom2 ends with long "to do" list
25 February 2005. The WSIS PrepCom ended this evening after some wrestling over the work between now and PrepCom3 in September. Civil Society groups at their last meeting discussed the state of the whole process and agreed that the vision has been lost somewhere, but that the road to actually changing reality is also very long. More.

PrepCom debate on Internet Governance
Presentation of WGIG preliminary report - government negotiations only at PrepCom3
24 February 2005. Today the focus of PrepCom debates moved from finance to internet governance. Markus Kummer presented the preliminary report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), and many government delegates took the opportunity to comment on the report, uncovering some of the deep lines of conflict from the first WSIS phase. The final report will be presented in mid-July and will be thoroughly discussed at PrepCom3 in September. More...

Quo Vadis: Where do we go from Geneva?
by 'Gbenga Sesan
http://www.gbengasesan.com/
February 24 2005
The WSIS process has been a long journey. The first phase having ended, all eyes are on the possible outcomes of the second phase and every family, caucus, delegation and interest group keep flying different colours - all towards the major objective of an all-inclusive Information Society. More...

Finance negotiations slow down, but agreement on Digital Solidarity Fund
Conflicts range from Free Software to debt swapping
23 February 2005. The governmental discussions on financing ICT for Development are still going on. Conflicts range from Free Software and interconnection fees to debts. An easy solution is not in sight anymore, but an early agreement was reached on the Digital Solidarity Fund. More...

Conference on Freedom of Expression and the Information Society
IFEX report puts spotlight on Tunisian human rights record
23 February 2005. A fact-finding mission by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network has discovered serious violations of the right to freedom of expression in Tunisia. On Tuesday, member organizations of IFEX held a panel conference at the Geneva PrepCom to present their report. The WSIS Secretariat has tried to limit the distribution of the report. More...

Follow-Up to the UN ICT Task Force discussed
"Global Alliance" as part of WSIS implementation mechanism?
22 February 2005. While the PrepCom Plenary is mainly debating financing matters, the discussion on the follow-up to WSIS is already underway in the hallways and side-events of the UN Palace. Today, the UN ICT Task Force
had invited interested stakeholders to discuss its future role after the mandate ends in December 2005. More...

PrepCom debate on finance
Night session in Geneva
22 February 2005. On the fourth day of the PrepCom meeting, the government delegates have come back to detailed discussions on the controversial document section focusing on financial mechanisms. Drafting groups have been created to solve conflicts on specific paragraphs. Negotiations will continue until the late evening. More...

Civil Society event on Financing the Information Society
A focus on Global Public Goods
21 February 2005. While the governmental debates on financing show deep controversies, civil society organizations are promoting their specific approaches to establishing financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide. On Monday, the Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM) and the Third World Network (TWN) held a panel debate which focused on the provision of global public goods. The panel presented the first outcomes of an ongoing research project on Southern perspectives at WSIS. More...

Second week of PrepCom2 begins
Governments discuss Operational Part
21 February 2005. After the preparatory committee had discussed chapter 2 (on financial mechanisms) of the Operational Part of the final Tunis document last Friday, it has today started to gather comments on the rest of the Operational Part which mainly deals with the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action. The Friday debate had uncovered deep divides between the views of Southern governments, on the one side, and the US and the business sector, on the other. Separate drafting groups have been established for the most controversial paragraphs. All comments are available on the ITU WSIS website

Prepcom II: Week I Wrap Up
by Rik Panganiban
20 February 2005. For those who want a summary of the inter-governmental negotiations, you might as well stop reading. I barely peeked into most of the official WSIS meetings, having spent most of the week in civil society meetings and other support tasks. More...

PrepCom2: Debate on financial mechanisms
Strong criticism by Southern governments
18 February 2005. The second day of PrepCom2 saw the beginning of the line-by-line negotiations on the draft Tunis declaration - in WSIS speak: the Operational Part of the Political Chapeau. The delegates discussed the section on financial mechanisms, which had previously been severely criticised by civil society representatives for its exclusive focus on market mechanisms and its lack of a development agenda. The "big bang" was avoided during today's session, but governments from the Global South made very clear that they regarded the document as insufficient. More...

Financing Debate Heats Up
Task Force Report critizised, but consensus emerging?
17 February 2005. The report of the WSIS Task Force on Financing Mechanisms that was published in January has drawn sharp criticism from a number of civil society groups. The CRIS Campaign has drafted an elaborated critique, the finance caucus is working on a statement, the Swss NGO coalition has published a whole booklet with alternatives, and the German WSIS coordination group has submitted a list of concrete demands to the German government. The major finance battle has started at PrepCom2 today. More...

What's next after Tunis phase?
Civil Society discusses questions on "implementation mechanism" and follow-up
By Johannes Schunter
17 February 2005. While the world summit preparatory process is starting its main phase with PrepCom2, there is already an intense debate going on about how a follow-up process after the Tunis Summit should look like. Civil Society in this regard would clearly prefer an open and inclusive process like the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) rather than a closed hand-picked group like the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM). More...

WGIG is finalizing stakeholder input for the upcoming closed debate
Conflicts still there, but room for understanding and compromise is growing
16 February 2005. Before spending the rest of the week in closed meeting, the WGIG offered an additional round of open consultations to governments and stakeholders today. Though conflicts still are clear, there seems to be some convergence and openness emerging. More...

Post-WSIS follow up process?
By Rik Panganiban
16 February 2005. Lots of people in the WSIS process are just trying to get through to the WSIS summit meeting in Tunis in November. But for those of us who want to see long term, substantive progress on the issues raised by the World Summit on the Information Society, we need to be concerned now about how the WSIS agreements are implemented and monitored. The recent
report of the group of "Friends of the Chair" makes some recommendations on this that are important for civil society to examine and assess their views on. More...

What is "Internet Governance?
Open consultations dominated by definition controversy
15 February 2005. As the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) continued its debate, a number of governments again stated their dissatisfaction with the current internet governance regime. How it should look like exactly - and what "internet governance" actually means - however is still not clear yet. More...

Pre-Prepcom Ramblings and Rumblings
By Rik Panganiban
14 February 2005. The first day of civil society activities in preparation is over. It was spent at civil society bureau and orientation meetings. Already we are seeing the beginnings of what could be another round of civil society in-fighting. More...

Tunisia - Serious concerns for World Summit on the Information Society
24 January 2005. A joint monitoring visit to Tunisia undertaken by members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has found serious cause for continuing concern about the current state of freedom of expression and of civil liberties in Tunisia, including gross restrictions on freedom of the press, media, publishing and the Internet. More...

Influence is possible!
A Guideline for NGOs for active participation in the WSIS 2005 in Tunis
By Thomas Biebl

4 January 2005. The diploma thesis available here studies the impact of civil society on the World Summit on the Information Society. Based on an analysis of the Youth Caucus' work it describes which practical steps are necessary to feed NGO interests into global summit processes. More... | Download of the whole thesis (pdf, english)
The thesis is licensed under creative commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Austria).

Internet Governance proceeds with strong civil society impact
WGIG turns out to be really bottom up
3 January 2005. With the first year of the second phase of WSIS over, the hot issue of internet governance is moving forward. The multi-stakeholder Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) is driven by civil society expertise and engagement, it seems so far. More...

A Gender Perspective to ICTs and Development
Reflections towards Tunis
By Anita Gurumurthy
14 December 2004. As gender activists call for an inclusive knowledge society that respects diversity, recognizes the integrity of local knowledge and cultures, and allows the assertion of women's rights to information and communication, paradoxically, the articulation of such ethical foundations is circumscribed by economic frameworks that do not recognize the language of ethics. Multi-stakeholder platforms have not really meant much in terms of gains for civil society, as was witnessed in the first phase at WSIS. What they have taught us is that the lines between allies and adversaries around the negotiating table is blurring and that the interests of the marginalized and women need to be reclaimed in civil society activism. More...

Report on the West Asia regional meeting for the WSIS in Damascus
22-24 November 2004, Damacsus, Syria
By the Arab NGO Network for Development
6 December 2004. The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) has been following the processes of preparations and mobilization towards the second phase of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) to be held in Tunisia, since the beginning of the year 2004. ANND's interest in the WSIS process was raised after the participation of Arab civil society organizations was limited and symbolic in the first phase of the summit in Geneva. More...

Task Force on Financing Mechanisms had Final Meeting
By Rik Panganiban
1 December 2004. The Task Force on Financing Mechanisms had its final meeting at UNDP headquarters in New York on 29 November. Rik Panganiban (CONGO), who was allowed to participate as an NGO observer, reports. More...

Geneva informal meeting on financial mechanisms disappointing
But view of information and communication as "global public good" gains support
By Chantal Peyer
26 November 2004. The Task Force on Financing Mechanisms (TFFM) held an open meeting in conjunction with the WSIS Group of the Friends of the Chair meeting in Geneva last week. Chantal Peyer from the Swiss NGO coalition Communica.ch was there and reports about a disappointing discussion, but also about a possible strategy for civil society. More...

Civil Society processes in WSIS Phase II
Adaption of working methods started, lessons still to be learned
25 November 2004. Civil society groups involved in the World Summit on the Information Society had some difficulties concerning the transparency and inclusiveness of their overall coordination structures. A review of the structures and decision-making procedures was started at PrepCom 1 in June and was finally kicked off at last week's meetings around the UN ICT Task Force in Berlin. More...
Proposal for formation of CS Working Methods Working Group
Draft
"Rules and Procedures for NGO Representation at UN Conferences" rtf | pdf

WSIS PrepCom2 will be "stormy"
Dispute over financing was stepped up at UN ICT Task Force meeting
23 November 2004. The UN Information and Communication Technology Task Force (UN ICT TF) met in Berlin last week, and civil society groups had a number of meetings around this event. The conflicts and coalitions in the second phase of the WSIS are becoming clearer now. One major dispute is to be expected over financing. More.

WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance set up
Civil Society well represented, US Government not a member
13 November 2004. After long consultations, the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG)
has finally been set up. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on 11 November announced the 40 members of the group that has to develop a report and recommendations on public-policy-related internet governance issues fore the second WSIS summit next year. It will be chaired by Nitin Desai, Kofi Annan's special advisor for the WSIS. More...

Online Consultations on Financial Mechanisms Start Today
WSIS Task Force welcomes short contributions and examples for its report
25 October 2004. The Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM) was decided at the summit in 2003 and finally set up on 4 October 2004 in New York. As civil society participation in the Task Force is extremely limited, and the TFFM staff at UNDP is already working on the final report, there are only few chances for open discussion and consultation. Two are coming up in the next few weeks: The UN ICT Task Force and Global Forum in November in Berlin, and an online consultation on financing mechanisms that has started today. The online consultations will again be hosted by the WSIS multistakeholder-website http://www.wsis-online.net/. More... | online consultations

Drafting Process for Tunis Summit Declaration is Starting
"Group of Friends of the Chair" met today, civil society mostly locked out
21 October 2004
. In order to avoid another long and exhausting political battle, the governmental delegates at PrepCom I in June had agreed to form a "Group of the Friends of the Chair" that will draft the summit declaration for WSIS 2005. Today, the group met for the first time in Geneva
. All stakeholders are invited to submit written input to wsis@itu.int for the draft summit declaration by 2 November 2004. Civil society participation is significantly lower than in the PrepCom drafting process in the first phase of WSIS. More...
Official Meeting Documents: Invitation letter | Annex 1: "Group of Friends of the Chair" | Annex 2: "Chair's note to the members of the GFC" | Annex 3: "Chair's non-paper to stimulate discussion in the GFC on October 22"
Civil Society Documents: Report from the meeting by Civil Society Bureau members rtf pdf | Intervention by Wolfgang Kleinwächter rtf pdf | Intervention by Renata Bloem html

Battle between cultural diversity and 'Free Trade' takes shape at UNESCO
Convention on Cultural Diversity discussed
5 October. Governments met September 20-25 at UNESCO in Paris to discuss the first draft of the proposed International Convention on Cultural Diversity (CCD). The most contentious points were the relationship of the CCD to other international agreements and the inclusion of troubling language that refers to strengthening international intellectual property rights. The CRIS campaign is calling on civil society organizations in every country to take action by submitting comments to their governments and to the UNESCO drafting committee by November 15. More...

WIPO starts to discuss development agenda
Action by Developing Countries and NGOs was successful
4 October 2004. At the general session of the WIPO in Geneva last weekend, the organisation's assembly has adopted a decision to start a development agenda within its work. It had been proposed by Argentina and Brazil and during the session was also co-sponsored by Egypt. The NGO-led "Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO" (see here) in the meantime had gathered hundreds of supporters. More.

Civil Society nominates candidates for Internet Governance Working Group
Now Kummer and Annan have to choose
By Bertrand De La Chapelle
4 October 2004. The Internet Governance Caucus has submitted the short list of Civil Society nominations for the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) that will be set up this month by UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The list consists of nine working group candidates and seven "connectors" who will link the group with civil society working groups. More... | all submissions from civil society

Debate over WIPO future is gaining momentum
"Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization" seeks supporters
by Jamie Love, CPTech
25 September 2004. A battle has erupted within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) over the most fundamental questions of its mission. A number of developing countries, lead by Argentina and Brazil, have tabled a proposal for a "development agenda", which involves stopping work on new treaties that hike intellectual property protections, and redirecting the agency to a range of initiatives more responsive to development and concerns of WIPO critics. Officially, this is debated on September 30, 2004. A number of NGO groups are currently seeking support for a "Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO". More.
Geneva Declaration (English, French, Spanish) and background information | Support the Declaration

What is the state of the information society?
WSIS-Stocktaking process launched in Geneva
11 September 2004. The first phase of the world summit on the information society focused on the underlying values and principles. Though by far not perfect and therefore criticised by civil society groups, the summit declaration and action plan set a number of goals. Some of them even got deadlines, like connecting every school in the world with ICTs by 2015. But how can these objectives be met? And what is the current state of the information society? And what is already going on everywhere that might help or hinder going in the agreed directions? An informal WSIS meeting in Geneva last week tried to provide some answers. The WSIS secretariat is seeking further input until 14 September. More...

Group of Friends of the Chair to be formed soon
Draft working structure published by PrepCom president Karklins
10 September 2004. At the WSIS stocktaking meeting in Geneva on 31 August, PrepCom president Janis Karklins distributed a document on the composition and working approach of the "Group of the Friends of the Chair". This group was decided to be set up by the PrepCom1 in Hammamet in June. It will draft the political documents to be approved by the heads of state and government at the summit in November 2005. Worldsummit2005.org was able to get hold of this paper. We provide it for the sake of transparency of the process, especially as there will probably be representatives from civil society and the private sector in this group.
Download the document rtf | html

News on WSIS Phase Two
Kummer and Karklins on Internet Governance and PrepCom Work
by Rik Panganiban (CONGO)
27 August 2004. Ambassador Janis Karklins, president of the WSIS Preparatory Committee, and Mr. Markus Kummer, head of the secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance, met with the CONGO Board on 27 August in Geneva. Here is a brief report on their presentations, which may be helpful to others following the WSIS. More...

EU Commission Proposes Strategy for WSIS II
Neoliberal agenda and techno-optimism prevailing
28 July 2004. The Commission of the European Union has recently issued a communication on the WSIS that is a major indicator of the EU's strategy for the second phase of the summit after PrepCom1 took place in Tunisia in June. The document, titled "Towards a Global Partnership in the Information Society", mainly confirms the neoliberal agenda of the EU. More... | The EU Document (doc)

UN ICT Task Force meeting in Berlin in November
Global Forum on "Enabling Environment", Civil Society meeting under discussion
27 July 2004. The UN ICT Task Force
will meet in Berlin from November 19-20 for the next time. The meeting will again be preceded by a global forum, this time on "Enabling Environment for Digital Development". Here, the work of the Task Force on financing set up by the WSIS 2003 will also be discussed. Civil Society is currently discussing a global meeting around this event. More...

Civil Society Background Papers on Finance, Internet Governance, E-Strategies
1 July 2004. A number of interesting background and discussion papers have been produced recently by civil society groups active in the WSIS process. More / download the papers

Prepcom I concludes meeting
Agreement on Process of Tunis Phase
27 June 2004. The WSIS Phase II Prepcom I finished very late last night around 11:30pm. Governments agreed to accept the President's draft decision, which outlines the structure of the Tunis Phase, including its relationship with the Working Group on Internet Governance and the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms. The next prepcom will take place on 17-25 February 2005.
More... | official outcomes and documents

Tunisian Human Rights Activist Allowed to Speak at WSIS Prepcom
President invited her, speaking time split
26 June 2004. In a very dramatic turn of events this morning, Souhayr Belhassen of the Tunisian Human Rights League was given permission from the president of the WSIS Prepcom to speak in the governmental plenary on behalf of civil society. More / the Statement...

Fight About Civil Society Speaking Slots in Plenary
Prepcom Suspended Over Human Rights Dispute, Agents Provocateurs in Hammamet
25 June 2004. The first scandal of the Tunisia phase of the summit about civil society participation has already started even before the activists could make their first intervention in the governmental plenary session. More...

Civil Society Discusses Human Rights Work for Phase Two
Human Rights Caucus Session Met Great Interest
24 June 2004. The first official meeting of the civil society human rights caucus during the Tunis phase of the summit sparked a lively debate on the future work of the caucus and the human rights situation in Tunisia. More...

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