There are more than 250 resources relating to WSIS on the Development
Gateway ICT for Development page:
The site has comments on the Geneva meeting from many locations, and will be
doing a follow-up highlight on the meeting in February.
It seems to me that the published comments on WSIS from international
assistance agencies are upbeat. The African responses seem to be quite
negative (except for those from government controlled press which used the
WSIS coverage to praise their own governments). Civil society organizations
seemed quite concerned by lack of influence in the reports issued by WSIS.
Many individuals seem to have really appreciated the networking
opportunities offered by such a gathering of ICT4D leaders.
I didn't attend, but the big issues seemed to be predictable, and unlikely
to be settled by a big meeting:
The proposed large fund for ICT for development ran into problems with many
donors who were not certain that they wanted to give more for ICT, who like
channeling their funds through (proven) bilateral and multilateral channels,
and who were not at all sure they wanted to give large amounts of money to
an agency set up by the leaders of developing nations who attended WSIS.
Those leaders of course thought it would be just peachy to put a lot of new
money under their more direct control.
Human rights concerns polarized the meeting. Many countries with coercive
governments want to control cyberspace, while most civil society
organizations and many governments want freedom of expression and dissent.
Giving governments the right to blackball civil society organizations, a
right that was used to exclude many, was one way of handling the issue, but
perhaps not the best way from the perspective of those favoring freedom of
speech and freedom of the press.
The concern for the governance of the Internet seems to me very difficult.
ICANN is an operating solution to one small governance problem. ICANN does
not begin to cover governance issues, and there must be mechanisms created
to meet the challenges of policing international fraud perpetrated over the
Internet, protecting privacy, assuring information security, policing
international terrorist Internet activities, etc. I don't think ICANN can
nor should take on this big array of tasks, but that does not mean that
ICANN is not a good mechanism for doing what it now does. The relative roles
of other international organizations (ITU, UNESCO, INTERPOL, etc.) have to
be worked out, and the utility of some new international organization
considered. This kind of work is not best done in open sessions with
thousands of participants!
From: African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Alexander Osterwalder
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2004 8:59 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: WSIS - what do you think
Some of you might have been to the World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland organized by the United Nations and the
International Telecommunications Union ITU. Others have certainly heard of
I would be very interested in your opinions on the summit.
University of Lausanne
Tel: +41 (0)21 692.34.20