PrepCom3 has started
  Samassekou emphazises cooperation and solidarity
  Geneva, 15 September 2003. The president of the PrepCom, Adama Samassékou, has opened the third official meeting of the preparatory committee for the WSIS. Over the coming two weeks, several hundreds delegates from governments, business, civil society and international organizations will further develop the WSIS declarations and try to overcome the remaining obstacles for the summit. PrepCom3 will be the last and most important official preparatory conference, before the WSIS summit takes place in December.

The conference started with a minute of silence for the victims of the attack on the UN building in Baghdad and for the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh. Samassekou expressed his hope that the conference would take place "in the spirit of peace, consensus and solidarity". He recapitulated the path alreay traveled within the WSIS preparatory process - from the regional conferences to the PrepCom meetings in Geneva. This process, according to Samassekou, has already led to a new relation of partnership between all stakeholders and has sowed the seeds of a "society of shared knowledge".

As a central theme of the WSIS, Samassékou emphazised the challenge of bridging the digital divide. Severe inequalities were still persistent between the poor and the rich. His hope was to make the summit a milestone on the way to reducing poverty and bridging the digital divide.

The Swiss minister for the environment, transport, energy and communication, Moritz Leuenberger, stressed the necessity of concrete implemenation plans for objective laid out in the plan of action. Communication infrastructure has to be paid for, Leuenberger said, and here the countries of the North and the private sector have a central role. He also mentioned the important role of traditional, local media.

Nitin Desai, special adviser to the UN secretary general for WSIS, focused on the link between ICTs and broader social processes. As central challenges for the WSIS, he mentioned cyberspace management and regulation, and the digital divide. He also supported the establishment of communication rights.

Yoshiro Utsumi, secretary general of the ITU, spoke on the central role of this last preparatory conference. Here in Switzerland, he said, the old mountain climber's wisdom is particularly obvious: "The last part of the climb is the steepest and most difficult".

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