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The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 56/183 (21 December 2001) endorsed the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases. The first phase took place in Geneva, hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003, and the second phase will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

The objective of the first phase was to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake.

At the Geneva Phase of WSIS, nearly 50 Heads of States and Vice-Presidents, 82 Ministers, 26 Vice-Ministers and Heads of delegation from 175 countries as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, private sector, and civil society provided political support to the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action that were adopted on 12 December 2003.

The adoption of a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action, set the stage for international cooperation to close the existing digital divide between developing and developed countries while involving all stakeholders in building an inclusive information society.

Heads of States and stakeholders from around the world recognized the need to create an enabling environment based on clear policies, laws and regulatory frameworks to enable universal, equitable and affordable access to the knowledge-based society. Capacity building activities, promoting ICT-based entrepreneurship, promotion of a multilingual, diverse and culturally appropriate content on the Internet, access for women, marginalized and vulnerable groups, internet governance including intellectual property rights and financing mechanisms to bridge the digital divide have been at the forefront of WSIS discussions and debates. The road to Tunis entails a process of monitoring and evaluation of the progress of feasible actions laid out in the Geneva Plan and a concrete set of deliverables that must be achieved by the time the Summit meets again in Tunis in November 2005. Efforts have been made to put the Plan of Action into motion and working groups have been set up to find solutions and reach agreements in the fields of Internet governance--Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), and financing mechanisms- Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM). These working groups will provide inputs to the second phase of WSIS in Tunis.

The WSIS Gender Caucus that was formed during the African regional preparatory conference for the first phase of WSIS in Bamako-Mali in 2002, contributed actively to the Geneva Declaration with appropriate language and to the Geneva Plan for Action through the mainstreaming of gender equality and women's rights. It has also been at the forefront in preparations for the second phase of WSIS by taking part in the preparatory conferences and making recommendations for the Tunis Plan. Vibrant online discussions have also been going on amongst the members of the caucus through listserves and mailing lists to ensure the inclusion of all voices in the information society.

This issue of FEMNET News shares experiences of members of the information society and preparatory activities for the second phase of WSIS scheduled for Tunis. We hope that you and your organisation will join the different activities, discussions (online or offline), or organise strategic activities in your country in preparation for the next phase of WSIS to ensure an equitable Information Society.

Edna Chepkurui Laboso is an intern with the Communications Programme of the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)


Par Edna Chepkurui Laboso

Par la resolution 56/183 en date du 21 decembre 2001, l'Assemblee Generale des Nations Unies a approuve la tenue du Sommet Mondial sur la Societe de l'Information (SMSI) en deux phases. La premiere phase qu'abritait le gouvernement suisse a eu lieu 6 Geneve du 10 au 12 decembre 2003 et la seconde phase qui se tiendra a Tunis du 16 au 18 novembre 2005 sera abritee par le gouvernement tunisien.

La premiere phase avait pour objectif de mettre au point et de favoriser la redaction d'une declaration claire sur la volonte politique ainsi que de prendre des mesures concretes pour asseoir les fondements d'une Societe de l'information pour tous, dans laqueIle seraient pris en compte tous les differents interets en jeu.

Lors de la phase du SMSI de Geneve, pros de 50 Chefs d'Etat et Vice-Presidents, 82 Ministres, 26 Vice-Ministres et Chefs de delegations de 175 pays ainsi que des representants de haut niveau des organisations internationales, du secteur prive et de la societe civile onf apporte un soutien politique 6 la Declaration de Principes et au Plan d'Action qui ont ete adoptes le 12 decembre 2003.

L'adoption de la Declaration de Principes et d'un Plan d'Action marque le debut de la cooperation internationale qui devrait permettre de combler le fosse numerique existant entre les pays en developpement et les pays developpes, tout en associant toutes les parties prenantes a Iedification d'une societe de l'information inclusive.

Les Chefs d'Etat et les parties prenantes a travers le monde entier ont reconnu la necessite d'instaurer un environnement favorable fonde sur des politiques, des lois et des cadres reglementaires clairs, pour faciliter un acces universel, equitable et abordable a la societe du savoir.

Les activites en matiere de renforcement des capacites favorisant la capacite d'entreprise fondee sur les TIC, la promotion des contenus multilingues, divers et culturellement appropries sur Internet, l'acces pour les femmes, les groupes vulnerables et marginalises, la gouvernance de l'Internet y compris les droits de propriete inteltectuelle ainsi que des mecanismes de financement pour combler le fosse numerique, ont ete au centre des preoccupations des debats et discussions du SMSI.

La route vers Tunis comporte un processus de suivi et d'evaluation de l'etat d'avancement des actions realisables enoncees dans le Plan de Geneve ainsi qu'un ensemble concret de realisations qui doivent etre menees 6 bien avant la nouvelle tenue du Sommet 6 Tunis en novembre 2005. Des efforts ont ete faits pour mettre le Plan d'Action en ouvre et des equipes de travail ont ete constituees afin de trouver des solutions et de parvenir 6 des consensus dans les domaines de la gouvernance de l'Internet--Groupe de Travail sur la Gouvernance d'lnternet (GTGI) et les mecanismes de financement-une Equipe de Travail sur les Mecanismes Financiers (ETMF). Ces groupes de travail fourniront des apports a la deuxieme phase du SMSI 6 Tunis.

Le Caucus du genre du SMSI qui a ete constitue durant la conference regionale preparatoire de la premiere phase du SMSI 6 Bamako, Mali, en 2002 a activement contribue a la Declaration de Geneve en en refondant le langage et au Plan d'Action de Geneve en y assurant l'integration de l'egalite entre les sexes et des droits de la femme. Le Caucus a egalement ete a l'avant-garde des preparatifs de la deoxieme phase du SMSI en participant aux conferences preparatoires et en formulant des recommandations pour le Plan de Tunis. Des discussions electroniques animees en ligne ont egalement eu lieu entre les membres du caucus a travers des listes de diffusion pour s'assurer que toutes les voix sont prises en compte dans la societe de l'information.

Ce numero de Nouvelles de FEMNET fait part des experiences des membres de la Societe de l'information et des activites preparatoires a la seconde phase du SMSI prevue en novembre 2005 6 Tunis. Nous esperons que votre organisation et vous-meme participerez aux differentes activifes, discussions (en ligne ou en differe), ou organiserez des activites strategiques dans votre pays ou region pour preparer la prochaine phase du SMSI afin d'assurer l'avenement d'une Societe de i'information equitable.

Edna Chepkurui Laboso est stagiaire au programme de communication du Reseau de developpement et de communication des femmes africaines (FEMNET)
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Author:Laboso, Edna Chepkurui
Publication:Femnet News
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:The sub-regional forum on the responsibility to protect: West African perspectives.
Next Article:The road to Tunis: a very long and tough road/Elle est tres longue et ardue, la route vers Tunis.

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