2nd Preparatory Meeting of WSIS+10 Review: Summary of ICT4D Discussions on Day 2

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.


India’s Statements on Day 2 of the 2nd Preparatory Meeting of the WSIS+10 Review

India made two interventions in the morning session of day 2 of the 2nd Preparatory Meeting today. The first related to funding mechanisms and the second related to Internet governance. Below are summaries of the two Statements:

  1. On Financial Mechanisms- In a discussion related to the Digital Solidarity Fund, India stated that the Fund was never operationalized and it would hence be incorrect to characterize it as a failure. India went on to stress the need for capacity building as an important component of fulfilling the WSIS vision. India then called for a financial mechanism that could create an enabling environment in developing countries to bridge the digital divide.
  2. On Internet Governance- India reiterated its support for  multistakeholderism and stated that multistakeholderism  must embrace all societies and geographies. India also called for a new digital democracy that is plural, multi-layered and multistakeholder. India also recorded its support for the IGF, but called for it to be strengthened to make it more inclusive, transparent and accountable. India also stated that governments have a role to play in public policy issues especially, on national security issues withing multistakeholder fora. India stressed on enhanced cooperation as a means to facilitate discussions on internet related public policy issues. India called for an Inclusive dialogue on Enhanced Cooperation and called on CSTD to facilitate such dialogue

2nd Preparatory Meeting of WSIS+10 Review: Summary of Day 1

The 2nd Preparatory Meeting for the High Level Meeting of the WSIS+10 Review kicked off in New York today. A shortened first day in the morning session saw interventions from countries across the board. The statements on first day reflected the the starting positions of most governments on the Zero Draft with the afternoon session called off to facilitate conversations between countries on the outcome document. The meeting has already come under critical focus from civil society groups for not being participatory enough with meetings scheduled between 6-9 pm every evening behind closed doors for just country representatives.

Overall, there was broad support for linking the WSIS with the SDGs, and the role played by ICTs in bridging the digital divide. There was broad support for the IGF, with disagreements on the term and terms of the extension. The disagreements came on issues of human rights, security and the modalities for implementation and follow up.

Below is a summary of major interventions in the morning session.

European Union Position: The EU position supported by other countries such as the Netherlands, UK among others focused on the support for a multistakeholder approach to Internet Governance, focus on Human Rights and bridging the digital divide through capacity building. They also called for a stronger support for the IGF and a longer extension than 5 years in order to account for funding and planning. On a similar note, they asked for any Review of the WSIS to be put off till 2025 or be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Review in 2030. They also called for a stronger focus on Human Rights with a separate section on human rights in the outcome document. The EU and supporting countries disagreed with the need for an international legal framework for internet governance, citing the progress made by existing mechanisms. Instead, they called for more open, transparent and accountable processes in such mechanisms.

G-77 plus China: This group was represented by the South African representative and supported during the session by representatives from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China and Egypt among others. They stressed the crucial role played by ICTs in furthering development goals and the need for greater security in this area to facilitate the fruition of these goals. They stressed the role of the government and the importance of sovereignty in the information society. While China pointed out that other human rights instruments deal with human rights issues and it is not necessary for the WSIS outcome document to do so, other G-77 members did not see the need for a separate section on human rights issues. They also called for an international legal framework on internet governance along with a legal instrument on cybercrime. Egypt also called for the development of indicators to assess the development goals outlined by WSIS.

United States of America: The United States called for the outcome document to refer to other documents in a holistic sense rather than cherry picking provisions, for better data to support its claims and to not make unsubstantiated assertions. The US also stated that the outcome document should illuminate different experiences of countries in similar situations as the experience with ICTs is not monolithic. The US also declared strong support for multistakeholderism and singled out the important role of non-governmental representatives in IG processes. The US also called for a stronger commitment to the IGF. Pointing out that the zero draft should be in line with the WSIS  vision, the US stated that security issues should not be in Zero draft. They stated that ICTs are not the cause of Human Rights violations. The Us stressed the need for enhanced cooperation, recognising efforts of other international organizations and organizations outside the UN. Finally, the US called for an evidence based review process that should be useful and lean. The US also stated that the regular review conducted by the CSTD and ECOSOC are sufficient and did not support another overall Review or Summit.

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States: Ecuador spoke on behalf of CELAC and stressed the role of ICTs as drivers of economic growth and sustainable development. They called for the UN Committee on Information and Communications Technology to be part of the WSIS process. They also stated that enhanced cooperation and Implementation are distinct issues and should be treated as such. They also called for the Internet to be recognised as a global public good and the centrality of net neutrality as an idea that supports this notion. They also called for the full involvement of all stakeholders to support the equitable distribution of resources to support the SDG and such an approach should take into account multilingualism. They called for full compliance with International Law with respect to sovereignty, human rights and privacy. They also called for stronger measures to protect children on the internet.

India: An overview of the Indian statement today can be found in a separate blogpost here.

More updates from days 2 and 3 will follow during the week.

WSIS+10 Zero Draft: Highlights from India’s Statement at the 2nd Preparatory Meeting

The WSIS+10 Review process is currently at its 2nd Preparatory Meeting Phase. India’s statement at the meeting captures it’s key concerns. India stated that the zero draft reflects the views of the members states and is a balanced document. However there are a few key aspects that need to be addressed.

Effective Participation and Substantive Inclusion: The recognition of effective participation, especially balanced representation of developed countries is imperative. Barriers to participation and inclusion need to be remembered, and the objective should be that of substantive inclusion

Digital Divide: Bridging the Digital Divide requires the WSIS to move beyond access and focus on affordability. There is great need for focus on joint research and development between countries to promote ICT access. The needs and aspirations of the next billion must be factored in the review process. An institutional funding mechanism is needed to bridge the digital divide.

Critical Internet Resources: The outcome document must reference uniform distribution of critical internet resources across regions of the world.

IGF: The unique role of IGF  is recognised and India calls for the IGF  and related processes to adhere to highest levels of inclusiveness, transparency and openness. The CSTD should facilitate and aid in this process.

It also called for creating a mechanism where governments can seek clarification on public policy issues particularly national security issues where governments are primarily responsible. It further considered the mapping on internet governance issues across UN bodies to aid in better coordinated efforts.

More updates to follow from New York.

Stay tuned!

Full Text of statement by South Africa on behalf of G77 and China at the 1st Preparatory Meeting for UNGA’s overall review of the implementation of the WSIS Outcomes


The Group of 77 and China would like to express its gratitude for the proficient manner in which you are handling this process. We would also like to express gratitude for the due consideration that has been given to the group’s inputs thus far.

With regards to the matter at hand, the Group would like to point out that the mandate for the overall review of the implementation of the WSIS is clearly spelt out in Operative Paragraph 4 of the Modalities Resolution, which says:

“Decides that the overall review by the General Assembly shall take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society and address potential information and communications technology gaps and areas for continued focus, as well as addressing challenges, including bridging the digital divide, and harnessing information and communications technologies for development;

We would propose that the following eight (8) areas are important for fulfilling the task set forth in OP4.

1. Implementation of the Vision of the Tunis Agenda

It is imperative that, as per the modalities resolution, the focus of this review is anchored in the vision of the Tunis Agenda. There is no need to renegotiate or re-invent the Tunis Agenda.

Central to this vision is the emphasis on the use of ICT’s for development and for the benefit of developing countries.

Moreover, the review process presents a significant opportunity to critically consider the progress made on the implementation of the Tunis Agenda under the 11 Action Lines, and to update these actions lines to make necessary course-corrections to ensure that the target populations of these action lines in developing countries attain maximum growth and benefit from the use of ICTs for development.

2. Bridging the Digital Divide

The express WSIS Vision to bridge the digital divide remains unfulfilled. A large majority of the over 3 billion people that still continue to be denied access to the Internet live in the developing world. These populations have been marginalized and sidelined in the spread of ICTs, and the review must focus on addressing this grave issue.

Within the larger context of the digital divide, the gender digital divide has become a growing concern. Women are being left further and further behind in developing countries and this is creating a new digital divide where men are twice as likely to have access to the Internet as women. This is particularly true in low-to-medium income countries, which, as we have said before, are already facing a large digital divide and a lack of access to ICTs. The WSIS+10 review process must factor in this growing problem, and heed the call by developing countries to double the number of women with online access within the next three years. Most importantly, women have to be prioritized in getting access to education that will enable them to acquire technical competencies to play a central role in developing ICT applications and ICT policies that can address the various socio-economic challenges rather than being relegated to consumers and users of ICT.

3. Funding Mechanism for ICTs

The review must focus on and rectify the lack of follow up on the funding mechanisms for ICTs, particularly under para 9 of the Tunis Agenda. There has been too little progress on capacity building for ICTs in developing countries, and on the transfer of technology to developing countries by those nations which have mastered ICT technologies, so as to assist developing countries in their pursuit of development. These funding mechanisms are central to the effective implementation of ICTs for development, and the review should emphasize the need for such mechanisms to be implemented in the outcome document.

4. Linkage with Post 2015

We recognize that this review process overlaps with another extremely important intergovernmental process, which is the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals. Just as the MDGs were linked to the Tunis Agenda in 2005, the outcome document of this review process must also recognize the obvious and explicit synergies between the Vision of utilizing ICTs for Development and the newly crafted SDGs.

There is already widespread recognition that ICTs are enabling tools in the implementation of these goals, and this recognition must be further pronounced through this review process. The WSIS+10 Overall Review outcome document must recognize these interlinkages and synergies between ICTs and the ongoing discussions at the United Nations, and ensure that document is drafted with the larger context of the post-2015 Development Agenda. A useful matrix in this regard has already been provided by the ITU and could be referred to.

5. Right to Privacy

This review needs to establish a common understanding on the applicability of international rights, ethics, freedom of expression and norms to activities in cyberspace.

It also presents a unique opportunity for all member states to create conditions that can prevent violations of international rights online and to curb activities that may pose a threat to the democratic stability of other member states.

We need to ensure better protection of all citizens online.

6. Internet Governance

The review must take stock of the progress made on the issue of internet governance and make it more representative than it has been thus far.

It is important for governments, alongside relevant WSIS stakeholders, to play a role in international public policy issues pertaining to the internet.

7. Enhanced Cooperation

It is unfortunate that the mandate of the Tunis Agenda has been implemented selectively to suit the narrow interests of a few influential players in the multi stakeholder community.
It is critical that this review process commit steps to fulfill the yet unfulfilled mandate of Para 69 of the Tunis Agenda on Enhanced Cooperation.

The Tunis Agenda called for Governments to, on an equal footing with each other, carry out their roles and responsibilities on international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.

However, ten years later, tangible progress on this specific mandate of Enhanced Cooperation, which would allow developing nations with important ideas to contribute to Internet policy, has been blocked. It is imperative that this important issue be resolved, so that all nations have an equal say in the public policies affecting the Internet.

8. Net Neutrality

The Group of 77 and China would like express its strong support for the principles of net neutrality. To ensure equal access for all and preserve the notion of the Internet as a public good, all internet traffic must be treated on equal parity, and the key tenets of net neutrality must be recognized as tools to ensure to ensure equal access for all.

9. Maintenance of Cyber Security

It is necessary to prevent the use of the internet for criminal and terrorist purposes. The international community should promote cooperation on combating cyber-crime, address the threat of cyber terrorism, and foster a global culture of cyber security.

In maintaining cyber security, States should abide by the following principles: sovereign equality; the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means without jeopardizing international peace and security, and justice; consistency with the principles of the United Nations; and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States.

Thank you.