Civil Society Declaration to the WSIS

On 8 December 2003, the Civil Society Plenary of the WSIS unanimously adopted  "Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs: Civil Society Declaration to the World Summit on the Information Society".


This declaration represents the culmination of two years of worldwide consultation among civil society, to arrive at a common vision, and identify core principles and challenges. The declaration explores human rights, development and social justice under the new conditions of information and communication technology, and adresses the danger of widening social gaps, inequalities and  threats to existing freedoms.


The following "Highlights" are a selection of core statements and demands, sometimes with minor editing for the ease of reading.


Download the Declaration (pdf):  englishespanol | franšais



"Shaping Information Societies for Human Needs"

Civil Society Declaration to the World Summit on the Information Society

Unanimously adopted by the Civil Society Plenary at the occasion of the World Summit on the Information Society

Geneva 8 December 2003




"Poverty eradication must be a key priority on the WSIS agenda."


"Redressing the inexcusable gulf between levels of development and between opulence and extreme poverty must be our prime concern."


"The lack of information access for a large majority of the world's population - the digital divide - is in fact a mapping of new asymmetries onto the existing grid of social divides."


"Inequalities in access must be addressed in terms of the North/South divide as well as in terms of enduring inequalities within developed and less developed nations."


"The `Digital Solidarity Fund┤ could be a real hope if it clearly states its goals, is transparently managed, and aims to foster primarily public services, especially for populations living in underserved and isolated areas."

"Challenging poverty requires more than setting `development agendas'."

"The dignity and rights of all peoples and each person must be promoted, respected, protected and affirmed."

"Every person must have the right to decide freely whether and in what manner he or she wants to communicate with others."

"Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media are central to any conception of information and communication societies."

"Security and other considerations should not be allowed to compromise freedom of expression and media freedom."

"Media pluralism and diversity should be guaranteed."

"Community media can be vital enablers of information, voice and capacities for dialogue."

"The use and disclosure of personal data, no matter by whom, should remain under the control of the individual concerned."

"The right to privacy must be protected in public spaces, online, offline, at home and in the workplace."

"The right for workers to form and join trade unions and the right of trade unions to function freely, including communicating online with employees, must be enforced at the workplace."

"Women must be active and primary agents of change in owning, designing, using and adapting ICTs."

"ICT strategies have to take into account that to promote women's rights the unequal power relation between women and men has to be transformed. Women need not only equality of opportunity, but also equality of access to opportunities."

"To ensure full and equal access for persons with disbilities, the principle of Universal Design is essential."

"A rich public domain of knowledge available to all is essential to sustainable information societies."

"Information and knowledge are transformed into private resources which can be controlled, sold and bought, as if they were simple commodities and not the founding elements of societyal organisation and development."

"Traditional knowledge should be protected from any attempt at patenting."

"Free Software, with its freedoms of use for any purpose, study, modification and redistribution should be promoted."

"Equal, fair and open access to knowledge and information resources must be established as fundamental principles of societies." 

"We envision societies where not only individual creativity, but also collective innovation is promoted."

"Cultural and linguistic diversity is an essential dimension of  people-centred information and communication societies."

"Every culture has dignity and value that must be respected and preserved."

"Human knowledge is the heritage of all humankind and the reservoir from which all new knowledge is created."

"The preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity and the extension of the public domain of global knowledge are essential".

"Technological decisions should meet the needs of people, not enrich companies or enable control by governments."

"It is not acceptable for global governance frameworks to be designed by and for small groups of powerful governments and companies and then exported to the world as faits accomplis."

"Negative impacts of ICTs that are discovered late are extremely difficult to correct and, therefore, can cause lasting harm."

"Actions need to ensure that ICTs are not deployed to perpetuate existing negative trends of economic globalisation and market monopolisation." 

"Technological solutions must be sustainable, and communities must be able to support their use and evolution."

"The Internet cannot be governed effectively by any one organisation or set of interests."


"No technology is neutral."




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