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UN conference in Western Asia continues preparations for information summit

UN conference in Western Asia continues preparations for information summit

Gearing-up for a world summit on the information society, a United Nations-backed preparatory conference in Beirut today focused on key information communication technology issues relevant to Western Asia.

Delegates to the Western Asia Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which moved into its second day of deliberations, is expected to adopt an outcome document that includes recommendations on policies, preliminary plans and initiatives that address key issues and tackle identified problems in building the information society.

The document will be forwarded to the WSIS, the first phase of which will be held in December in Geneva, which aims to raise awareness among political leaders, explore the digital divide and start a public debate on some of the key aspects of the information society.

In a statement at the Conference's opening session yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Mervat Tallawy, said her organization had prepared a draft document that highlighted the points of strength and weaknesses in information and communication technology in the Arab world. She hoped that the draft would help delegations come up with a Declaration of Principles and the Beirut Initiative toward the establishment of an information society in the region.

Also speaking at the opening session was Jean-Louis Kordahi, Senior Policy Advisor of the WSIS Executive Secretariat and Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications. He called on the audience to notice that telecommunications and information needs were shifting from political and security matters to being used as tools for modernizing production and developing human resources. “The more leaders and nations of the world unite, the stronger the United Nations becomes,” he stressed.

The preparatory conference is organized by ESCWA, in cooperation with the Cairo Office of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), under the auspices of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.