Negotiations for Tunis phase of UN information society summit go generally well

30 September 2005

The negotiations for the implementation phase of the United Nations information society summit have made good progress on bridging the digital divide, with the unresolved problems now confined to Internet governance and funding technological development, the head of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said today.

ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi told a news conference that while the document to be presented at the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia might not be completed during the preparatory conference (Prep-Com 3) ending today, it would be finalized and adopted at the 16 to 18 November meeting of heads of State and Government.

The 19 to 30 September meeting of the ITU at the UN Headquarters in Geneva gave some 1,350 delegates from more than 130 countries and over 150 other such groups as international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses the chance to work out an agreement.

The two-week Prep-Com 3 agreed on a working definition of Internet governance, put forward by a Working Group that Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed, including such issues as consumer rights, multilingualism, stability, security and cybercrime.

On the question of differences between the United States and several other countries on Internet governance, Mr. Utsumi said countries wanted democratization, independent of any single government, and a sense of ownership. The ITU could serve as a centre for administering the Internet, but there was no such consensus for that so far, he added.

About 40 heads of State and Government so far have confirmed that they would attend the Tunis meeting, Mr. Utsumi said, and the private sector had expressed interest in playing an active role. A number of chief executive officers (CEOs) would take part in some of the 300 parallel events scheduled to take place, he said.

In the context of Tunis, ITU launched its "Connect the World" initiative, which aims to connect communities by all the means currently available by the year 2015, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to lift living standards for the poor.

At present, ITU estimates that around 30 per cent of villages, or 800,000 of them, still lack connection by telephone line, the Internet, or any other modern information and communication technologies (ICTs).


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