PrepCom3b commences
  Final negotiations begin in Geneva
 
 
  Geneva, 5 December 2003. The president of PrepCom Adama Samassekou has opened the final negotiations on the WSIS Declaration and the Plan of Action on Friday, 5 December. The declared objective is to finish the talks tomorrow, Saturday evening. Civil society representatives have once more been excluded from negotiations.

After PrepCom3a in November, this is the second extension of the third meeting of the preparatory committee PrepCom3. It became necessary as the government delegations had not been able to reach an agreement on the WSIS documents, neither in September, as originally planned, nor in November.

During the past weeks, the Swiss government had embarked on last-minute attempts to facilitate compromises on the various issues of conflict. The result of this intense effort was a new set of "Non-Papers" which are now to serve as a basis for PrepCom3b negotiations. However it remains unclear whether the Swiss proposals will be discussed together as a "package deal", or whether conflictive areas may even be excluded from the documents, to be further discussed during the second phase of the summit (2004-2005).

The existing themes of disagreement - including, amongst others, internet governance, finance mechanisms and the media - will probably be discussed in separate working groups. According to the time plan, negotiations will continue until late night both on Friday and Saturday. However it is very unlikely that the documents will be finalised during such a short time frame. The UN access passes, which were distributed to delegates, will be valid until Tuesday, 9th December....

Following the tradition of previous PrepCom meetings, the representatives of civil society were excluded from the negotiations after just a few hours. Even though no explicit decision was made on observer participation, civil society delegates were prevented to access the conference room after the lunch break, and those already in the room were forced out by security personnel. The "multi-stakeholder" approach of the summit, which is still officially being advocated, has thus become a complete farce.

Meanwhile civil society representatives are concentrating on developing their own alternative declaration. A first draft will be presented to the civil society plenary this weekend.
 
 
 
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