In January 2002 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) convened a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in order to improve access by all countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies to promote development. The first stage of the summit took place in Geneva, from 10-12 December 2003, and the second will take place in Tunis next November 16-18, 2005.
Key issues of particular interest to developing countries were largely postponed to the second part of the Summit. The process also exposed the difficulty that Southern countries and civil society actors have in ensuring that their proposals are taken into account and reflected in the text of the documents being drafted.
The general goal of the project is to contribute to the WSIS II decision-making process by conducting a number of researchs in key issues of interest to developing countries, disseminating the results and, based on them, advise Southern negotiators, the conference secretariat and working groups on the policy implications of the different proposals they will be considering during the summit process (at global and regional levels, including ad-hoc groups created during the process).
The general objective of the project is to contribute to the WSIS II decision-making process by researching key issues of interest to developing countries.
To involve Southern civil society in debates on the issues on the agenda at the summit and to give visibility to their opinions so that they may be taken into account in policy-making;
Its specific objectives include:
To assist government delegates from the South on their positions that may be favourable to the regional interests and defend them in their general negotiations;
To make use of the research results in other instances where the issues studied under this project may help in the consideration of the Civil Society Organisations' contributions to the on-going process of construction of the Information Society;
To publish briefing papers and policy recommendations summaries on the research results of key issues for the World Summit in Tunis, 2005.
Research will take as its starting point the current situation in Southern countries and will analyze, among other issues, the effect of applying the policies specified in the documents adopted at the first WSIS summit, as well as other measures, not included in those documents, that should be promoted in those countries.
The conclusions of the research will be published online and their policiy implications summarized in briefing papers that will be published and distributed at key meetings. Both the research and briefing papers may be accompanied by additional documentation produced during the research process.
During the preparatory process for the Tunis WSIS Summit, workshops will be organized with the aim of publicizing the research in progress and involving
the different civil society actors in discussions on the issues under study.
* The institution
ITeM (Instituto del Tercer Mundo), founded in Montevideo (Uruguay) in 1989 is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-religious research and advocacy organization in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. ITeM is one of the few NGOs with global reach based in the South and it focuses on information, communication, research and advocacy.
ITeM has been an active participant in key international summits and conferences, like the Earth Summit in Rio 1992, the Cairo population conference, the Beijing Women's conference, the Social Summit in Copenhagen and the WTO ministerials in Singapore, Seattle, Geneva and Cancun.
As a result of its leading participation in the Copenhagen process, ITeM was appointed to act as secretariat of the major non governmental follow-up initiative: Social Watch. ITeM led the expansion of the Social Watch network from 13 to 60 countries, and publishes the yearly Social Watch report in English, Spanish and French.
ITeM also hosts the Latin American secretariat of Third World Network and publishes its monthly magazines in Spanish.
ITeM is a member of the Association for Progressive Communications.
ITeM started the NGONET project in 1991 to promote the use of ICTs to strengthen Southern NGO participation in international decision-making. The Choike portal (www.choike.org) was created by NGONET to improve visibility of Southern content in the Internet.
This project is possible thanks to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) support.
The board of this project is integrated by recognized scholars and members
of civil society:
Anriette Esterhuysen (APC)
Anriette Esterhuysen became the Association for Progressive Communications
(APC) Executive Director in May 2000. Her area of expertise is information
and communications for development. Anriette has served on the African
Technical Advisory Committee of the Economic Commission for Africa's African
Information Society Initiative, is a member of the Canadian International
Development Research Centre's South African Acacia Advisory Committee, a
member of the governing council of the Society for International Development
and a board member of several NGOs. She is based in Johannesburg, South
Daniel Pimienta (FUNREDES)
Daniel Pimienta is, since 1993, the Founder and Director of the Networks and
Development Foundation (Funredes) based in the Dominican Republic. Daniel
was born in Casablanca (Morocco) and trained in Mathematics and Computer
Sciences in Nice (France). As Head of Funredes Daniel has participated in
several projects, including the management of various virtual communities,
training users, designing information resources and negotiating mutual
benefit agreements with Internet Service Providers. Daniel has been invited
as expert or speaker in several international conferences and has
contributed in several publications, including UNESCO's books, Internet
Society's Journals, and European Union's technical reports.
Martin Khor (TWN)
Martin Khor is the Director of the Third World Network (TWN) in Malaysia and
has led TWN since its inception in 1984. He was trained as an economist at
Cambridge University and has lectured in economics at the Science University
of Malaysia. Martin authored several books and articles on trade,
development, north-south relations, the international financial
architecture, the environment and ecology, agriculture, intellectual
property rights and threats to biodiversity and indigenous knowledge. He
served as vice chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Expert Group on the Right to Development and has also been involved in
several United Nations research studies.
Robin Mansell (LSE)
Robin Mansell was born in Vancouver, Canada, and was trained in Psychology
and Communication both in Canada and the UK. She has joined the London
School of Economics (LSE) in 2001, where she holds the Dixons Chair in New
Media and the Internet. Her research examines the integration of new
technologies into society, interactions between engineering design and the
structure of markets, and sources of regulatory effectiveness and failure.
She authored several books and articles in communication and society and is
a member of the editorial boards of several journals. Robin served as vice
chair of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) post-graduate
Training Board and is a member of the Institute of Development Studies,
Sussex (IDS), Governing Body. She has recentely been nominated to stand for
election as President of the International Association for Media and
Communication Research (IAMCR).
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba)
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the Founder and Executive Director, from 1996, of
Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Center for Policy
Research and Education). Tebtebba Foundation is an NGO based in the
Philippines which helps build the capacity of indigenous peoples to
articulate and project their own views, positions and analysis on various
issues directly affecting them. In 1996 Victoria helped to organize and
convene the indigenous women's caucus in Beijing during the UN Fourth World
Conference on Women. She is the indigenous and gender adviser of the Third
World Network (TWN), Expert for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
and the chairperson-rapporteur of the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous
Ziad Abdel-Samad is the Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for
Development (ANND). Based in Lebanon, ANND is a network of over 270
organizations in 11 Arab countries that promote human rights, political and
economic development, environmental issues and women's rights in the Arab
Mukhtar Trifi (LTDH)
Mukhtar Trifi is the President of the Tunisian League of Human Rights
(LTDH), which is considered the oldest human rights organization in Maghreb.
He is a lawyer, member of Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de
l'Homme (FIDH) and member of Amnesty International in Tunisia.