Vision impossible
  Civil Society criticises draft declaration
 
 
  Geneva, 22 September 2003. The civil society plenary on Monday morning heavily criticised the new draft Declaration of Principles which had been distributed on Friday evening. A statement drafted by several civil society caucuses expressed „frustration and disappointment“ that key concerns of civil society have been removed or are not adequately addressed. The plenary made clear that the Declaration in its current version will not be supported by civil society.

The first version of the statement, written by the regional caucuses from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Carribean and by the NGO Gender Strategies Working Group, particularly emphasises that any reference to community media has been removed from the document and that free and open source is not adequately recognised. The section on "Enabling Environment" is mostly concerned with advancing market-driven industry, while the focus on Intellectual Property Rights is likely to "support the further concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the resource rich few".

Discussions in relation to "Building Confidence, Trust and Security" have shifted towards "a highly politiziced agenda characterized by language referring to the integrity of the military field and the use of information resources for criminal and terrorist purposes", threatening rights including the right to privacy, freedom of association, freedom of movement, and freedom of expression.

The statement finishes by noting that the declaration in its present form "reinforces the unequal balance of powers between and within nations." A condensed version of the statement was presented to Subcommittee 2 as a declaration presented by all civil society.

In civil society plenary debates earlier today, the question was increasingly raised whether civil society should re-consider its participation in a summit which is moving in a potentially dangerous direction.

Meanwhile, leaflets have appeared on tables all across the conference building, presenting a selection of empty square brackets – referring to the large number of square brackets in the draft declaration – followed by the words: "Vision impossible".

Read civil society's common presentation to Sub-Committee 2 from today, 22 September 2003.
 
 
 
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