The second part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)- Tunis 2005

was held in Tunis on 16 -18 November 2005.

Observations from

Heads of state and government from all over the world have adopted a Tunis Commitment and a Tunis Agenda. The most contested issue in the final negotiations was Internet governance, but the summit itself put financing ICT for Development and related questions back on the table.

Independent news coverage We were in Tunis with a couple of reporters and have brought you daily news, analyses and documents from a civil society perspective, from 13 to 18 November 2005. A complete listing is at the end of this page. Other news sources:

Venue / Webcast
The summit, the accompanying ICT4ALL exhibiton, and most parallel events took place at the Kram Exhibition Park in Tunis. For those not able to participate - or who could not get into the rooms because of the mass of particpants - there is an archive of the webcast audio/video stream. 

Parallel Events The ICT4ALL exhibition and the parallel events took place from 15 to 19 November. There were also high-level round tables, a high level panel on ICT for Development and "side events" that are related to WSIS but take place somewhere else - sometimes not in Tunisia.

Civil Society Concerns around the Summit / Citizens' Summit on the Information Society 

Civil society groups have a number of concerns around the summit. Therefore, a number of them have tried to hold a Citizens' Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) parallel to the summit, together with independent Tunisian NGOs. Detailed information is available at the CSIS website. The announcement is here: (rtf): English | French | Spanish | Arabic The CSIS was prevented from happening by Tunisian authorities, without any written documentation and reference to legal reasons.

The preparatory process was mostly occupied with Internet Governance debates, which implies that there was no time for a real discussion about how to move from decisions and declarations (the Geneva phase) to implementation (the Tunis phase and beyond). So there still is a real danger that the summit in the end has produced tons of paper and documents, but has had no impact on the real world and on the conditions of living for a great number of people.
Where there was discussion around implementation and follow-up, the organizers have planned the summit in the style of a trade fair or a showcase for "best practices" and were determined to sell the the event as "the summit of solutions". This approach avoided speaking about the tougher questions that come up when assessing the summit from a human rights and global justice perspective. WSIS civil society had to decide if it again distances itself from the official outcomes and the techno-liberal attitude of the official summit process and develops an independent summit document. It did not draft another declaration, but a month after the summit issued a joint assessment of the WSIS outcomes and process:

e-Paliament : Global Center for ICT in Paliament launched

The Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament is a joint initiative of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and a group of national and regional parliaments launched in November 2005 on the occasion of WSIS in Tunis.

The Global Centre pursues two main objectives:

  • to strengthen the role of parliaments in the promotion of the Information Society, through fostering ICT-related legislation, in light of the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society;

  • to promote the use of ICT as a means to modernize parliamentary processes, increase transparency, accountability and participation, and improve inter-parliamentary cooperation.
The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament intends to achieve these objectives by providing a framework for sharing knowledge, coordinating actions, providing technical assistance and pooling information and resources across legislatures around the world, regardless of their country’s economic development level.

World Bank Justice for the Poor (J4P) Workshop

Following the UN announcement of the formation of the Commision of the Legal Empowerment of the poor this October, the World Bank's Justice of the Poor (J4P) Program, which was formed pre-Commision around 2002 (I THINK, I remember hearing about it then), held a long workshop from 9-30 November. It will be interesting to see how this intersects with the UNDP's efforts.  Announcement from J4P:

The J4P workshop centered on two major themes: Origins and Content of Program Design; and Dynamics of Implementation and Impact. The workshop established (and has since consolidated) a fruitful cross-country dialogue regarding experiences, opportunities, limitations, and constraints with J4P initiatives across development institutions. A number of recommendations came out of the workshop, most notably: (a) the need for an established network of practitioners who can share ideas, experience and knowledge; and (b) the desire for ongoing knowledge sharing events which explore in more detail some of the topics covered during the discussion.