World Summit on the Information Society will be held in two phases. The
first phase of WSIS will take place in GENEVA hosted by the Government
of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. The second phase will
take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to
18 November 2005.
Resolution 73 of the International Telecommunication Union (Minneapolis,
1998) resolved to instruct the ITU Secretary General to place the question
of the holding of a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on
the agenda of the United Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination
(ACC now the United Nations System Chief Executive Board - CEB) and to
report to the ITU governing body, the Council, on the results of that
consultation. In his report to the 1999 session of the Council on that
consultation, the Secretary - General indicated that the ACC had reacted
positively and that a majority of other organizations and agencies had
expressed interest in being associated with the preparation and holding
of the Summit. It was decided that the Summit would be held under the
high patronage of the UN Secretary-General, with ITU taking the lead role
In 2001, the ITU Council decided to hold a Summit in two phases with the
first phase to be held from 10 to 12 December 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland
and the second from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia.
UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 endorsed the framework for
the Summit adopted by the ITU Council. The Resolution also endorses the
leading role of the Union in the Summit and its preparation, in cooperation
with other interested organizations and partners.
The UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 further recommended that
preparations for the Summit take place through an open-ended intergovernmental
Preparatory Committee that would define the agenda of the Summit, decide
on the modalities of the participation of other stakeholders in the Summit,
and finalize both the draft declaration and the draft plan of action.
It invited the ITU to assume the leading managerial role in the Executive
Secretariat of the Summit and invited Governments to participate actively
in the preparatory process of the Summit and to be represented in the
Summit at the highest possible level.
In Resolution 56/183 the General Assembly also encouraged contributions
from all relevant UN bodies and other intergovernmental organizations,
including international and regional institutions, non-governmental organizations
civil society and the private sector to actively participate in the intergovernmental
preparatory process of the Summit and the Summit itself.
The global information society is evolving at break neck speed. The accelerating
convergence between telecommunications, broadcasting multimedia and information
and communication technologies (ICTs) is driving new products and services,
as well as ways of conducting business and commerce. At the same time,
commercial, social and professional opportunities are exploding as new
markets open to competition and foreign investment and participation.
The modem world is undergoing a fundamental transformation as the industrial
society that marked the 20th century rapidly gives way to the information
society of the 21st century. This dynamic process promises a fundamental
change in all aspects of our lives, including knowledge dissemination,
social interaction, economic and business practices, political engagement,
media, education, health, leisure and entertainment. We are indeed in
the midst of a revolution, perhaps the greatest that humanity has ever
experienced. To benefit the world community, the successful and continued
growth of this new dynamic requires global discussion.
The World Summit on the Information Society will provide a unique opportunity
for all key stakeholders to assemble at a high-level gathering and to
develop a better understanding of this revolution and its impact on the
international community. It aims to bring together Heads of State, Executive
Heads of United Nations agencies, industry leaders, non-govemrnental organizations,
media representatives and civil society in a single high-level event.
The roles of the various partners (Member States, UN specialized agencies,
private sector and civil society) in ensuring smooth coordination of the
practical establishment of the information society around the globe will
also be at the heart of the Summit and its preparation.
anticipated outcome of the Summit is to develop and foster a clear statement
of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals
of the Information Society, while fully reflecting all the different interests
at stake. The scope and nature of this ambitious project will require
partnerships with public and private entities, and such partnerships will
be actively sought in the coming months.
High Level Summit Organizing Committee (HLSOC)
A High-Level Summit Organizing Committee (HLSOC) has been established
under the patronage of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General and Chairman of
the United Nations System Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB
Its purpose is to coordinate the efforts of the international United Nations
family in the preparation, organization and holding of WSIS. All the members
of the HLSOC have engaged to provide specific information about their
work that will help develop the Summit themes. The HLSOC reports directly
to the CEB and oversees the work of the Executive Secretariat.
The HLSOC is composed of a Representative of the United Nations Secretary-
General and Executive Heads of the following UN specialized agencies:
FAO, IAEA, ICAO, ILO, IMO, ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO,
UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO. It comprises also the Director General of WTO, the
Executive Director of UNITAR, the Executive Secretaries of the UN Regional
Economic Commissions and the President of the World Bank. The Secretary-
General of the International Telecommunication Union serves as Chairman
of the HLSOC.
Executive Director: Mr. Pierre Gagne
Deputy Executive Director: Mr. Art Levin
Executive Secretariat of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS/ES)
was established under the authority of the HLSOC to assist in the preparation
of the Summit. It is based at the ITU headquarters in Geneva, with the
following mandate and terms of reference:
The mandate of the ES is as follows:
on all aspects of Summit preparation
progress reports on the preparation of the Summit
an operation plan and a timetable for preparation of the Summit
sponsorship and funding
A number of different organizations, including government ministries,
private companies, UN agencies and NG0s have sent experts to the WSIS
Executive Secretariat on a full or part-time basis. The composition of
the ES is as follows:
from Member States
from the UN specialized agencies participating in the HLSOC
from the private sector
from NG0s and Civil Society
Countries Executive Secretariats
Switzerland and Tunisia have created working secretariats under the direction
of their respective Ambassadors to the World Summit.
All governments have a stake in the Information Society, whatever their
level of national income or their infrastructure facilities. Governments
are key for bringing the benefits of the Information Society to everyone
through the development of national and global policies and frameworks
to meet the challenges of the Information Society. In their pursuit of
the public interest, governments can raise awareness, facilitate access
to information for the public, and they also can lay the foundations for
all citizens to benefit from Information and Communication Technologies
in terms of improved quality of life, social services and economic growth.
The private sector, will play an active role in conjunction with government
and civil society by offering an economically viable model to achieve
the development Objectives on the world agenda. The contribution of the
private sector is instrumental in creating the material conditions for
universal access to information and value added ICT services. Its involvement
in the Summit will promote economic growth and new partnerships, technology
transfer, increase awareness of new technologies, and motivate the creation
of local content development and skilled employment opportunities.
The private sector input to the Summit is being facilitated by the Coordinating
Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI), chaired by the International
Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Civil society is playing an active role in identifying the social and
cultural consequences of current trends and in drawing attention to the
need to introduce democratic accountability on the strategic options taken
at all levels. Its diversity and, often, hands-on approach to issues,
make civil society a key player in the renewed international partnership
called for by the UN Secretary-General.
United Nations Family
Summit offers a unique opportunity for the global community to reflect,
discuss and give shape to our common destiny in an era when countries
and people are interconnected as never before. The UN family of organizations
serves as a catalyst for change by bringing together state governments,
as well as the private sector, international institutions and civil society
in pursuit of common goals. The United Nations system and its specialized
agencies will be deeply involved in the organization and holding of the
Summit, with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) taking a
How to Contribute?
The key opportunity to contribute and be part of the World Summit is to
actively participate in the preparatory process of the World Summit. This
can be done in the following suggested ways:
a constructive network
funding and support
The Summit is being held under the high patronage of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-
General, with the International Telecommunication Union taking the lead
role, in cooperation with other interested UN agencies, and will occur
in two phases:
Geneva 2003: First Phase
The first phase of the World Summit will take place in Geneva hosted by
the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. It will address
the broad range of themes concerning the Information Society and adopt
a Declaration of Principles and plan of action, addressing the whole range
of issues related to the Information Society.
Tunis 2005. Second Phase
The second phase of the World Summit will take place in Tunis hosted by
the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005. Development themes
will be a key focus in this phase, and it will assess progress that has
been made and adopt any further plan of action to be taken.
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