Preparing the 1st World Forum on Communication Rights
  Alternative WSIS Forum to fill content vacuum
  A first meeting for planning the World Forum on Communication Rights (WFCR) took place on 10 June in London. The attendees discussed a draft concept by Sean O´Siochru from the CRIS campaign. Issues such as media concentration and intellectual property rights are to be adressed, aiming to come to a more comprehensive definition of the right to communicate. The objective is thus to fill the vaccuum of issues which the governmental declarations of the World Summit of Information Society leave out.

The first WFCR will be taking place on December 11th at Palexpo, Geneve, half way through the World Summit on Information Society. It is supposed to be a spectacle for press and civil society. But the WFCR will also go beyond WSIS. It will monitor the further development of Communication rights on a regular basis. Further ocasions for this could be WTO and WSF-Meetings in 2004 as well as the Tunis WSIS in 2005.

Yet the Programme is only starting to evolve. As a framework, three main approaches have been discussed, looking at the present situation, the principles, and the future tasks of communication rights. Working groups on each thread will be formed during the next weeks as well as a "fog" (a "forum organising group"), which hopefully - as opposed to its title - will bring some light and transparency into the coordination process.

Sean's concept paper has already proposed a title for the first panel: "Commuication rights, communication wrongs". A working group will be collecting examples of good and malpractise of communication. A call for inputs will be released soon.

Theoretical work will be presented on the second panel. A declaration on Communication Rights will give a definition of a right to communicate in an information society. Work on the text will start soon. The working group on this is encouraged to merge the statements developed by various groups in the preparation process of WSIS. Authors of these statements are invited to participate.

The final panel will proceed to more practical agenda setting. The necessary steps to improve communication rights will be dicussed here. This shall be demonstrating the possibilities of an alternative approach towards the information society taking into account communication rights.

Jan Schallaböck, London, 10 June 2003.

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