16 February 2005. Lots of people in the WSIS process are just trying to get through to the WSIS summit meeting in Tunis in November. But for those of us who want to see long term, substantive progress on the issues raised by the World Summit on the Information Society, we need to be concerned now about how the WSIS agreements are implemented and monitored. The recent report of the group of "Friends of the Chair" makes some recommendations on this that are important for civil society to examine and assess their views on.
The report of the Group of Friends of the Chair presents an interesting modality for post-WSIS follow-up and implementation (see below). In particular, paragraphs 10 to 11 propose a "team of stakeholders" to work together to promote implemention, under the guidance of an appropriate UN agency. The various UN agencies tasked with coordinating the follow-up work should report to some larger coordination body. The paper proposes four alternatives as to who this larger coordinating body should be (including the ITU and the successor to the UN ICT Task Force).
Among the important process points regarding the post-WSIS phase therefore are:
- Who decides who is on the "Team of Stakeholders"?
- Which UN agencies will coordinate work on each Action Line? E.g. will the ITU coordinate work on Internet Governance implementation?
- Will NGOs currently accredited to the WSIS-process have the ability to participate in the meetings of the future "coordination body"?
It would be good for groups to make their views known on what they see as an inclusive, effective implementation process after November 2005. It will be discussed later during this PrepCom.
Except from report of Group of Friends of the Chair ( WSIS-II/PC-2/DOC/03 ):
10. In order to assure the sustainability of the WSIS process after the completion of its Tunis phase, we agree to establish an implementation mechanism for the Geneva and Tunis Plans of Action, based upon co-operation among governments and all stakeholders, with the overarching goal of helping countries and societies to achieve the development goals of the Millennium Declaration. To that end, for each Action Line in the Geneva and Tunis Plans of Action (as identified in the Annex), a team of stakeholders will work together to promote implementation. We request the UN Secretary-General to nominate, from among existing UN bodies or specialised agencies, those that will [moderate/coordinate] the work of each team, based on respect for their mandates and leveraging on their expertise, and within their existing resources.
11. The [moderator/coordinator] of each team identified in the Annex should periodically prepare a report on the implementation of the Geneva and Tunis Plans of Action based upon the information provided by, and the outputs from collaboration among, stakeholders, focussing particular attention on the progress towards achievement of the internationally-agreed development goals of the Millennium Declaration, and submit it to [a defined coordination body]. The [head of a defined coordination body] will submit regular reports to the UN General Assembly, following its existing rules of procedure.
[Options for a defined coordination body (with participation of representatives of all stakeholders):
- "existing UN division" (within UN DESA) for following-up major UN conferences;
- Newly-created UN Inter-agency task force, HLSOC-type, (supported by a 2-3 person secretariat);
- Newly-created UN ICT Task Force-type forum (supported by 2-3 person secretariat);