By Puneeth Nagaraj
Today was Day 2 of the Preparatory Meeting for the High Level Meeting as part of the WSIS+10 Review. The morning discussion featured discussions on ICT for Development and Internet Governance. The discussions on Internet Governance are ongoing and this post summarizes the discussion on the former.
Negotiations are set to continue informally behind closed doors and this continues to be a contentious point within and outside the session as stakeholders outside governments have not been allowed to observe these negotiations.
Below is a summary of the broad discussions that happened during the morning session:
South Africa (on behalf of G-77 plus China): In their opening intervention, South Africa recalled the role of ICTs in facilitating economic and social development and its tremendous impact on both individuals and societies. They stated that this has allowed the progress seen thus far with respect to the WSIS mandate. They called for better linkage between the SDGs and the WSIS outcome document and cited capacity building as being as important as access in these discussions. They also called on the focus going forward to be on building safe infrastructure, building skills for the use of ICTs, affordability of ICTs, exchanging views on best practices and connecting remote areas. To achieve this they called for access and affordability issue to be addressed; establishment of partnerships with other stakeholders for capacity building; promotion of local and community actors; and targeted training for women. This statement was supported by Colombia among other G-77 members who called for an increased role for developing countries in the information society.
European Union: The EU also supported the linking of SDGs with the WSIS process albeit with more specific goals- citing C7 of the WSIS action line and 9(c) of the SDGs as examples. They called for the adoption of a human rights based approach to the ICT for Development section and reiterated their support for a separate human right section. The Eu also stated that the WSIS Review should recognize a broader range of issues to address the gender digital divide such as education for girls, representation of women in media and elimination of gender stereotypes and employment of women in ICT and media industries. They also stressed the role ICT has in addressing global warming and environmental change as well as a focus on ICT waste. Their position was supported by the UK who in addition called for a greater recognition of the role of the private sector investment in the development of ICTs.
United States: In light of disagreements, the US called for the document to be restructured to focus on the original WSIS focus areas of Development and Internet Governance. The US stated that the issues of security and human rights are cross cutting and do not require their own sections. On this position, they were supported by Australia and Canade. They reiterated their statement on the experience with ICTs not being monolithic across countries. The US also called for the deletion of para 30 on the Digital Solidarity Fund citing its failure and instead called for a greater focus on development agencies funding ICT activities. But many developing countries opposed the proposal to delete para 30 and called for more clarity on existing funding mechanisms.
India: India’s two interventions are summarized here.
Puneeth Nagaraj is a Project Manager at the Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi