Profile: World Summit on the Information Society

The first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, and the second UN-sponsored summit was held two years later in Tunis. The concept of the WSIS was actually initially proposed to the UN by the Tunisian government via the ITU, and it was subsequently decided that the summit should be split up into two separate phases. The UN saw this meeting as an opportunity more deeply incorporate ICTs into its existing strategies for achieving the MDGs. The central objective of these summits was to address the global digital divide, with the greatest emphasis placed on the internet sector. Representatives from 175 countries attended the Geneva summit, where a Plan of Action as well as a Declaration of Principles were established. According to the plan of action laid out at the 2003 summit, the Action Lines of the WSIS are:

 

C1. The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development

C2. Information and communication infrastructure

C3. Access to information and knowledge

C4. Capacity building

C5. Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs

C6. Enabling environment

C7. ICT Applications:

E-government

E-business

E-learning

E-health

E-employment

E-environment

E-agriculture

E-science

C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistc diversity and local content

C9. Media

C10. Ethical dimensions of the Information Society

C11. International and regional cooperation

 

The 2005 summit in Tunisia led to the establishment of the polarizing Internet Governance Forum as well as the drafting of the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. This summit further solidified the idea that universal and affordable internet access should be the ultimate goal of this governing body and set the ambitious goal of providing online access to 50% of the world’s population by 2015. A WSIS forum has been held annually since 2006 to discuss progress in accomplishing the original goals and to share ideas about ICT implementation.

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