European Social Forum
  WSIS debates at ESF
  30. November 2003. Taking place one month before the WSIS summit, the European Social Forum in Paris offered a welcome opportunity for civil society participants to present their plans for the summit and to put some finishing touches on their own side-events.

On Thursday, 13 November, one of the major ESF panels focused on a civil society view of the WSIS. High-level speakers and summit participants, including Pascal Fortin, Benamrane Djilali, and Jean-Louis Fullsack, criticised the neoliberal and security-led agenda of the summit, highlighted the threats of further privatisation and concentration in the communication sector, and identified the unwillingness of the North to commit to financial aid as one of the major problems at the current stage.

Djilali introduced a civil society vision of information society which would be people-centered, empowerment-oriented, community-based, self-managed and based on bottom-up processes. However this vision was said to contrast sharply with that offered by the WSIS.

Responding to discussions on technical infrastructure for bridging the digital divide, Myriam Horngren (CRIS coordinator) made clear that the digital divide was "not a technical question but a question of interests", and the task for WSIS should be to act where those interests run counter to human needs. However she noted that the CRIS network was very skeptical about the WSIS and that the multi-stakeholder approach, allegedly allowing everyone to contribute, was a dream rather than reality.

According to Bruno Clement from the Swiss civil society network Comunica-CH, what is happening outside the summit is now more important than what's happening inside the summit. He thus referred to side-events, such as the World Forum on Communication Rights as well as the whole series of events organised by Comunica-CH.

Read more about the speeches and interventions (in French) on

Meanwhile at the nearby Metallo Medialab, members of the Geneva03 network were organising some final details of the series of counter-events WSIS? We Seize! and presented the events on Friday, 14 November. A two-day strategic conference on critical issues around the information society will be followed by the three-day video stream High Noon and complemented by a Polimedia Lab as a space for experiment, workshops, practical projects. These events will start on Monday 8 December.

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WSIS I, Geneva 12/2003
Official and inofficial outcomes WSIS 2005

official WSIS site
UN NGLS site

HBF publications on WSIS:
Visions in Process I (pdf)
Visions in Process II (pdf, 4 KB)

WSIS II Events:
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PrepCom1, June 2004
PrepCom2, February 2005
PrepCom3, September 2005
PrepCom3a, Oct/Nov 2005
WSIS Summit, November 2005

WSIS II Issues:
Financing for ICT4D
Internet Governance

Civil Society @ WSIS

Structure and Working Groups

joint Civil Society Documents

German NGO Coordination

Contact and News

German Civil Society activities 

Charter of Civil Rights for a Sustainable  Knowledge Society

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On the Way Towards the Charter