The agreed text draft of the outcome document of the WSIS+10 Review has been released. The agreed text is a product of the final negotiations between Member States over the past few days. This draft will be adopted at the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes on 15th and 16th December. CCG has closely followed the evolution of the text since its first introduction as a non-paper up to the current draft. Read our previous posts here, and here.
The current draft reflects the areas of consensus that has been achieved, and captures how divergent views of various countries and stakeholders have been accommodated to produce a ‘balanced outcome document that is acceptable to all.’ The changes can be seen in terms of additions, omissions and reorganization. Additions in this draft are mostly clarificatory or explanatory in nature and not generally substantive additions. Omissions indicate the areas of disagreement in the text that could not stay in the final draft outcome document. In context of these drafts reorganization of text means that some aspects have been modified and moved from a particular section of the document to another section or part of the document.
Some of the key themes that have seen change in this draft are follows:
ICT for Development and Bridging the Digital Divide:
A significant addition in the preamble that relates to ICT4D is the text in added in paragraph 14 which emphasises that “progress towards the WSIS vision should be considered not only as a function of economic development and the spread of ICTs but also as a function of progress with respect to the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms”
There is additional text in paragraph 9 that clarifies that while there has been remarkable evolution and diffusion of ICTs it is accompanied with unique and emerging challenges related to the evolution and diffusion of ICTs. In the Bridging Digital Divide section, additional text in paragraph 28 (previously paragraph 25) adds ‘knowledge’ divides along with digital divides. It also clarifies that UN entities facilitating Action Lines would work “within their mandate and existing resources” in studying the nature of these digital and knowledge divides.
Paragraph 29 (previously paragraph 26) adds specific reference to ‘interoperable and affordable’ ICT Solutions ‘including models such as proprietary, open source and free software.’.
This section has seen minimal change. The Human Rights Council Resolution 26/13 finds a place in the text while the specific reference to right to privacy in the paragraph has been removed. The text in the human right section now specifically provides for the right to peaceful assembly and association while the earlier draft did not find their mention.
Paragraph 29 which addresses the protection of journalists, media workers and civil society has additional text that calls for states to “take all appropriate measures necessary to ensure the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and association, and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, in accordance with their human rights obligations.”
The continued absence of any mention the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights is notable even when the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights find reference.
Reference to internet governance has been removed from the preamble indicating the highly divergent views on this topic. The section of internet governance was among the contested, and the text that is agreed reflects that there is very little that has changed since the Geneva and Tunis phases of the WSIS process.
Paragraphs 60 and 62 reaffirm the Tunis Agenda, and the new draft finds mention of ‘multistakeholder processes’ along with the term multilateral with regards to management of the internet as a global resource. This balances the divergent demands of numerous stakeholders.
While the IGF mandate extension for 10 years remains, the conditionality set that it must show progress on improvements seems have to been diluted with the word ‘must’ replaced by ‘should continue to’ show progress. It must also be noted that ‘outcomes’ has been removed from indicators of progress listed along with modalities, and participation from developing countries.
The text on Enhanced Cooperation has undergone further change. It now takes note of the ‘divergent views held by member states’ and calls for ‘continued dialogue and work on implementing enhanced cooperation.’ The previous draft provided for creation of group to examine the concept, and its implementation. This report of the group would now be submitted to the 21st Session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) instead of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Building Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs:
The detailed text on cybercrime has been removed and replaced with rather brief paragraphs 58 and 59 that calls on states to intensify efforts to build robust domestic security of and in the use of ICTs
References to Cyber Security Incident Response Teams has been removed, and the text on the ethical dimensions and importance of ethics in establishing a safe cyberspace has been modified and moved up to the preamble, where it also receives a direct linkage to Action Line C10.
The term ‘net neutrality’ has been removed and the paragraph has been diluted to the following text: “We note the important regulatory and legislative processes in some Member States on the open Internet in the context of the Information Society, the underlying drivers for it,” however the text also calls “for further information sharing at the international level on the opportunities and challenges”.
Follow up and Review:
There is new text that invites a High Level Political Forum to consider the reports of the CSTD on development with regards to the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both paragraph 75 and 76 speak about the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. This in all probability could be an erroneous repetition than a conscious reiteration.
The next High Level Meeting on the overall review of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes has been fixed for 2025 and encourages the outcome of this meeting to feed into the review process of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.