The World Summit On The Information Society (WSIS) Process And Issues Debated (2004)

Valeria Betancourt

The formal preparation for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a global discussion process sponsored by the United Nations Organization Secretariat, began in mid-2002. Said process is directed toward developing a global framework to face the challenges of the so-called information society (IS). In this sense, its purpose is to reach a common understanding, secure political commitments and define concrete actions and mechanisms on the subject. In the words of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the WSIS offers “a unique opportunity for all key players to develop a shared vision of ways to bridge the digital divide and create a truly global information society. It will be an opportunity to develop specific solutions and tools and adopt a realistic and viable plan of action.  

The WSIS, which unlike other Summits sponsored by the United Nations takes place in two phases (Geneva 2003 and Tunisia 2005), includes the private sector as a key actor for the first time and seeks to reflect the interests of the different actors convened for the process. Another peculiarity is that it is organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a technical organization, despite the fact that the issues dealt with have deep social, cultural, economic and political implications.

This article offers a general description of the WSIS as an introduction to help understand the process. Thus, it emphasizes and highlights some background aspects of the celebration of the Summit, the main actors involved, the results obtained, the preparatory process and the authorities that participated in the first phase. The second phase is introduced and commented upon. Then, it summarizes the key issues that were formally raised during the first phase of the Summit. Finally,some ideas for an evaluation of the process and suggestions for the future are presented.

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