At UN Summit, States agree on actions to get information technology to poor

18 November 2005

On the final day of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia today, participating States agreed on a range of measures to broaden access to information networks and technology to poor communities.

According to the outcome document, the Tunis Commitment, the Summit built on the work done at the first phase of the WSIS in 2003 in Geneva, where participants affirmed the importance of bridging the so called "digital divide" that divides poor communities from affluent communities ones through their lack of access to such technology.

"We reaffirm the commitments made in Geneva and build on them in Tunis," the Commitment says, "by focusing on financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide, on Internet governance and related issues, as well as on follow-up and implementation of the Geneva and Tunis decisions."

At the close of the Summit Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) briefed the press on the accomplishments at Tunis.

He stressed that although WSIS was the culmination of a seven-year process, the work to connect the world electronically was only just starting.

In Tunis, he said States agreed on numerous action lines to translate commitments into reality. ITU would take full responsibility for two of those action lines: developing infrastructure and building confidence in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Stocktaking would also get under way to examine the feasibility of new commitments made at Tunis.

Mr. Utsumi hailed the creation of a global Internet Governance Forum, which he said signified a recognition that no single government should play a dominant role in the decentralized future of the network.

"The Internet is a living animal," he said; already, increasing regionalization was decentralizing the management of the medium, for example, China now had an address not assigned by the central management body.

Among other notable features of the Tunis Summit was its size, Mr. Utsumi said: around 18,000 participants had attended. The number of corporation heads attending had also markedly increased since the Geneva Summit.

In addition over 2,000 specific project proposals had been submitted to the "Golden Book" of new initiatives at the Summit.


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