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The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS): A UK civil society perspective

What is the WSIS?

The World Summit on the Information Society will be held, hosted by the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003. The Summit will bring together all of the world’s nations in an attempt to develop a global framework to deal with the challenges posed by the information society, and to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Whether this goal will be attained remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it is an important opportunity to critically engage a range of issues related to media and information and communication technologies that are relevant to civil society.

The Summit also creates an opportunity for government, civil society and private sector actors to come together, at national as well as regional and international levels, to engage in debate and cooperation towards using ICTs to create a better world. The overall World Summit on Information Society process has two phases. After the event of December of 2003, the process will continue at regional and national levels. The second Summit, to be held in Tunis in November 2005, will review the process and progress made, and identify a possible further plan of action. Therefore, it is important to remember that national efforts can and should continue beyond December 2003.

Why get involved in WSIS?

The WSIS provides a good opportunity to open spaces for debate and discussion, to create consensus and basic agreements between multiple stakeholders in relation to key Information Society issues, not only at global level, but also at national level.

The process is also a great learning opportunity for CSOs that are new to the ICT policy process. By engaging in the issues outlined at the WSIS, CSOs begin to articulate their positions and gain valuable experience in lobbying that can be taken back to their home countries.

The WSIS timeline

25-30 May African Regional Conference, Bamako, Mali
17-18 Jun UN General Assembly Meeting for ICT for Development, New York, USA
1-5 July Global Preparatory Committee 1, Geneva, Switzerland
16-18 Sept Content and Themes Informal Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland
23-24 Oct Bishek- Moscow Conference on the Information Society, Bishek and Moscow
7-9 Nov European Regional Conference, Bucharest, Romania
13-15 Jan Asian Regional Conference, Tokyo, Japan
27 – 30 Jan Latin America and Caribbean Regional Conference, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
17 – 28 Feb Global Preparatory Committee 2
16 – 18 Jun Pan-Arab Regional Meeting, Cairo, Egypt
15 – 18 Jul Intersessional Meeting, Paris, France
15 – 26 Sept Global Preparatory Committee 3
10 – 12 Dec World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva)

What's happening in the UK?

On 22 May 2003 the British Council hosted the UK's official participation event for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The event provided delegates with an opportunity to learn more about the Summit and to explore and develop ideas for continued involvement. Read the reports from the event >>


Available soon: WSIS National Frequently Asked Questions
Guidelines for conducting a national WSIS consultation process, prepared by the Association for Progressive Communications will be available soon!


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