Call for Papers for “Living the Information Society" Conference, Philippines, April 23-24, 2007.

Call for papers deadline: November 15, 2006
Place: Renaissance Hotel, Makati City, Philippines

Call for Papers:

The Philippine ICT Researchers Network through the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University of the Philippines is hosting an international conference on “Living the Information Society: The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on People, Work and Communities in Asia.” 

We invite papers on all aspects of modern and emerging interactive digital technologies, including, but not restricted to mobile technologies, the Internet, network gaming, call centers, office networks, etc. The papers can cover the technology’s impact on families, relationships, sexuality, work, identities, culture, language, religion, politics, governance and even dysfunctional practices, etc.

How to keep track of WSIS Implementation

The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society states that the WSIS implementation mechanism at the international level should be organized taking into account the themes and action lines in the Geneva Plan of Action, and moderated or facilitated by UN agencies when appropriate.  It also states that ITU, UNESCO and UNDP should play a leading facilitating role in the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action. (Note that the UN has designated the Commission on Science and Technology on Development- CSTD- as its focal point)

Keep track of implementation by themes and action lines:

UN ECOSOC makes CSTD focal point for WSIS follow-up

The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) will be, on behalf of The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the focal point for the system-wide follow-up of WSIS.  It was adopted in a resolution (E/2006/46) on 28 July 2006, entitled “Follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and review of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development”.

Mandate and Institutional Background

The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was established in 1992 as a result of the restructuring and revitalisation of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields. Through this restructuring, the General Assembly abolished the former Intergovernmental Committee on Science and Technology for Development (IGCSTD) and its subsidiary body, the Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for Development (ACSTD), created at the time of the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development, held in Vienna in 1979, and replaced them by the CSTD.
In 1998, the Council, in a further review of all its functional commissions, decided to introduce a number of changes in its membership, focus and methods of work.
The Commission met for the first time in April 1993 in New York, USA. Since July 1993, the UNCTAD secretariat has been responsible for the substantive servicing of the Commission. The Commission has subsequently met in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Commission was established to provide the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council with high-level advice on relevant issues through analysis and appropriate policy recommendations or options in order to enable those organs to guide the future work of the United Nations, develop common policies and agree on appropriate actions.
In this context, the Commission acts as a forum for:
  • the examination of science and technology questions and their implications for development;
  • the advancement of understanding on science and technology policies, particularly in respect of developing countries and;
  • the formulation of recommendations and guidelines on science and technology matters within the United Nations system.
Frequency of meetings

The Commission meets annually for a period of one week (ECOSOC resolution 2002/37, reaffirmed in draft Council resolution 2003/31 of 4 June 2003 ).

WSIS- by Wikipedia

Wow,  I see a budding report on WSIS on Wikipedia. Hmmm, I didn't know that the conferences established 17 May as World Information Society Day.  There is a growing list of resources of sites, news and reports on WSIS. 

Official Sites & Organizations

WSIS News & Blogs

Articles & Reports

Work Bank and Legal Empowerment of the Poor

Just as I was announcing the World Bank's Justice for the Poor (J4P) workshop last month, a Bank colleague told me about the Bank's recent efforts to look into issues relating to the Legal Empowerment of the Poor. Given that the Bank's President is on the Advisory Board of the Commission (the President Paul Wolfowitz is represented by Ana Palacio), and the fact that the Commission met for the first time in January of this year, I am curious to see where the Bank might be heading with it's J4P program, or it's strategy on legal issues and the poor. 

Ana Palacio, under an initial consultancy with the Bank to look into property rights, has broadened her focus to Legal Empowerment and recently released a paper highlighting the Bank's previous experience with legal empowerment, as well as recommendations for the Bank moving forward.  Her paper is titled: Legal Empowerment for the Poor: An Action Agenda for the World Bank. She has also prepared a follow-up summary Powerpoint presentation to present her findings to key stakeholders. 

Ana did an excellent job summarizing Legal Empowerment practices as well as in her honest reflections of and  recommendations to the Bank. Brief Summary follows:
  • One of the main objectives of the paper is to contribute to orient the positioning of the World Bank vis-à-vis the High Level Commission for Legal Empowerment of the Poor (HLCLEP)
  • Over the past decade, the World Bank’s involvement with legal programs for the poor has been characterized by an often “piecemeal/scattered” approach:
    • Valuable work on LEP but partial and scattered across Bank units, lacking a common thrust and vision 
    • Parallel approaches that need better coordination:
      • supply-side (institution- building) 
      • more recently, demand-side of governance (community driven development) 
    • Timid engagement with local governments
  • Recommendations for the Bank in creating a “LEP Action Agenda”:
    • The World Bank should articulate a shared internal vision on LEP 
    • Develop a strategic integrated framework 
    • Rethink Bank’s engagement with local governments, which entails exploring direct sub-sovereign lending and grant financing 
    • Expand current engagement with civil society 
    • Improve coordination and integration of Bank activities related to LEP 
    • Use (and adjust when necessary) existing lending instruments and analytical tools to operationalize the LEP agenda 
    • More systematic use of political and historical analysis in Bank operations and programs 
    • Develop benchmark indicators against which to set baselines and measure performance 
    • Identify and manage potential risks and misconceptions
Wow. I'm excited- the World Bank, working more directly with the poor on legal issues? It certainly does not fit well with the Bank's mandate to work with governments and guidelines of non-interference. I definitely will be following this issue. 

UNDP Commission of the Legal Empowerment of the Poor at

Last year, I blogged about the formation of a high level commission by the UNDP to look into law and development from the angle of the poor. I came across that topic again with a UNDP colleague that I met for coffee today to chat about development and such. I learnt that the Commission is in full swing, and that he wanted me to help coordinate and rally the NGO world into the efforts. I readily agreed, and admitted that I have continued to do my law work with both a grassroots as well as an institutional reform lens. I also learnt that the UNDP has started a website for the Commission so that the general public can keep track of its activities and achievements:

USAID and Legal Empowerment of the Poor

It seems the Legal Empowerment of the Poor has become some kind of a new and exciting development fad to be checked out, given the recent establishment of the UN Commission of Legal Empowerment of the Poor. First the World Bank held a series of Justice for Peace events, and also commissioned a strategy paper on the the topic. (UPDATE 5/30: which you can view the paper via this post). Now USAID has contracted ARD to study the same issue. 

Might this really turn out to be the new Development kid on the block, up-seating the current reign of 'Rule of Law'? What surprises me is that this is not a new field- it has been around for as long as local, grassroots NGOs have been, working with issues of poverty, some of which can be addressed using legal means. My worry is that, with the big aid agencies giving this so much attention, it becomes yet another promising 'field' of development, evoking independently of other sectors or being the 'flavor' of the month without much concern with realities or long term potential. Let's see how this all evolves- the Commission will be meeting later this month for the first time.

Development Gateway - Special Report on Information Society

Nadia Afrin, a colleague and content coordinator at the Development Gateway (whom I'd had numerous phone conversations and finally met in person recently), pointed out this Special Report on "Information Society: The Next Steps" by DG. Interesting network of folks talking about WSIS and other ICT4D related topics.

I've visited DG a couple of times during visits to Washington DC, and met some of their awesome staff.  In case you didn't know, the organization started within the World Bank and morphed into  an independent nonprofit (though some dispute the 'independent), supported by government donors as well as private sector pioneers. It aims to promote development through the use of ICT, mainly through knowledge sharing, although other programs are being created as well.

From their official website: 

Development Gateway is an international nonprofit organization with themission to reduce poverty and enable change in developing nations through information technology. It envisions a world in which the digital revolution serves people everywhere—creating greater opportunity through increased access to critical information; greater reliance on local capabilities; and more effective, better coordinated international aid. 

Development Gateway provides Web-based platforms that make aid and development efforts more effective around the world.  It focuses on three areas where even small investments in information and communications technology can make a major difference:

  • Effective government – enabling better aid management and coordination, and more efficient and transparent government procurement.
  • Knowledge sharing and collaboration – leveraging the Internet for online communications among development practitioners worldwide.
  • Local partner programs in nearly 50 countries – connecting developing country organizations into a global network to empower them to use information and communications technologies to bolster local development efforts