17 February 2005. While the world summit preparatory process is starting its main phase with PrepCom2, there is already an intense debate going on about how a follow-up process after the Tunis Summit should look like. The document prepared by the Group of Friends of the Chair contains the following major points in regard to the post-Tunis phase (§ 10 and 11 of the Operational Part):
- It proposes to establish an implementation mechanism for the Geneva and Tunis Plans of Action.
- The follow-up process should be based upon co-operation among governments and all stakeholders.
- A team of stakeholders should work together to promote implementation.
- The UN Secretary-General should nominate moderators for each team.
- These moderators should periodically prepare a report focussing on progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
- On the basis of these reports the head of a coordination body will then report to the General Assembly to monitor the process.
The document presents four options for a possible coordination body:
- ITU / WSIS-Executive Secretariat
- An existing UN division (within UN DESA) for following-up major UN conferences;
- A newly-created High-Level Summit Organizing Committee (HLSOC)-type UN inter-agency task force (supported by a 2-3 person secretariat)
- A newly-created UN ICT Task Force-type forum (supported by 2-3 person secretariat)
During a first informal meeting at the PrepCom yesterday afternoon, Civil Society members discussed how to structure the discussion in the coming days and months.
The position of Civil Society in this regard is clear. All CS members agree to enforce the existing multi-stakeholder approach and to make sure that the bodies defined for the "coordination team" are transparent and open for peer-level participation to all entities that were accredited to the World Summit.
However, an implementation around the action lines of the "Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action" may not be sufficient as these lines do not reflect the notions favoured by Civil Society. Yet it is unclear if this point should be contested or accepted in order to concentrate on more important issues.
It is also uncertain how the stakeholder teams will be selected. Civil Society in this regard would clearly prefer an open and inclusive process like the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) rather than a closed hand-picked group like the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM).
As the document implies that each action line should be placed under the thematically correspondent UN Agency, the question arises how coordination can be assured where competences overlap. Some kind of supervision would surely be necessary, e.g. when dealing with Intellectual Property Rights in UNESCO, WIPO and WTO.
A crucial point seems to be what the final report's purpose will be in the end. Obviously, if it's just an input to the General Assembly without any feedback mechanism to monitor or verify compliance, it will be insufficient in civil society's point of view. CS members would clearly prefer a coordination body which is independent and has real human resources to provide some pressure for active implementation.
As Ambassador Karklins, the chairman to the PrepCom 2 Plenary, confirmed that no specific procedure has been discussed to form the multi-stakeholder thematic teams so far, civil society is ready to but pressure on the summit in order to shape the Tunis follow-up process in a way which is in line with their interests. It will also be interesting to monitor how the debate will develop in the upcoming meeting on "Internet Governance after WSIS Deliberations" organized by the Internet Governance Project tomorrow morning.