Discussion on Tunisia Phase of Summit has started
  "Open-ended" intergovernmental working group set up on second phase
  Geneva, 11 November 2003. The President of the WSIS announced on yesterday that the government bureau will be forming an "open-ended" working group to consider the post-Geneva-to-Tunis phase. This issue officially will come up on the formal agenda of PrepCom3A on Friday, but debate on it has already started.

The Tunisian delegation today held a consultation on a document (document WSIS/PC-3/13-E, not online yet) detailing their conception of how the preparatory process for the Tunis summit should be conducted. In it, they make a number of detailed proposals.

The objective of the Tunis phase, according to the document, will focus on

  • the "adoption of a digital solidarity charter,"
  • evaluation of the Geneva phase
  • and evaluation of implementation of the Geneva Action Plan 

Processwise, there would be

  • a preliminary preparatory meeting in March / April 2004 in Tunis
  • a series of regional and thematic conferences between March 2004 and February 2005
  • two PrepComs (the timing of these meetings is not agreed upon).

The Executive Secretariat would be continue to be based in Geneva in 2004 and perhaps be moved to Tunis in 2005.

Several government delegations expressed strong reservations about the level of detail of this document, noting that a more general discussion of the various options should be the first step. Some wanted more specifics on the budgetary implications of this plan. There were strong reservations to a "charter" expressed by one delegation. The European Union is strongly opposing a detailed debate on follow-up and especially new structures at the moment.

The Tunisian delegation will release a revised document tomorrow, probably with less specificity, for consideration by delegations.

Civil society now has to discuss and decide on its position. The common feeling seems to be in favour of "a variety of modalities to ensure that as many different views as possible are solicited and that there is concerted and productive dialogue on the most serious issues", as one civil society activist put it. 



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On the Way Towards the Charter