GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENDORSES OUTCOME OF WORLD SUMMIT FOR INFORMATION SOCIETY, WELCOMES DIGITAL SOLIDARITY FUND

27 March 2006
GA/10451

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENDORSES OUTCOME OF WORLD SUMMIT FOR INFORMATION SOCIETY, WELCOMES DIGITAL SOLIDARITY FUND

27 March 2006
General Assembly
GA/10451
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixtieth General Assembly

Plenary

74th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENDORSES OUTCOME OF WORLD SUMMIT FOR INFORMATION SOCIETY,

WELCOMES DIGITAL SOLIDARITY FUND

Also Elects Israel to Committee for Programme and Coordination, Approves List

Of Civil Society Representatives for Participation in High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS

The General Assembly this afternoon endorsed the outcomes of the World Summit for the Information Society, which concluded in Tunisia last November, welcoming their strong development orientation and the progress achieved towards a multi-stakeholder approach to building a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society.

Adopting without a vote a resolution on the Summit, the Assembly also welcomed the Digital Solidarity Fund as an innovative financial mechanism, with the objective of transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities for the developing world, and seeking new voluntary sources of “solidarity” financing.

Further to the text, the Assembly requested the Economic and Social Council to oversee the system-wide follow-up of the Summit outcomes and to review, at its substantive session of 2006, the mandate, agenda and composition of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.  The Assembly also invited the Secretary-General to convene a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue called the Internet Governance Forum.

[The World Summit on the Information Society was held in two phases.  The first phase took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10 to 12 December 2003, and the second in Tunis, Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.]

In opening remarks, Assembly Vice-President Judith Mbula Bahemuka ( Kenya), speaking on behalf of the General Assembly President Jan Eliasson ( Sweden), said that information and communication technology was a critical issue in the wider discussions on development.  At the September 2005 World Summit, world leaders had recognized the key role of science and technology, including information and communication technology.  The Tunis-phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) had contributed substantially towards the strengthening of the international community’s vision of a people-centred, inclusive and development oriented information society.  The world community now had the Tunis Agenda, which, among other things, provided specific steps to bridge the “digital divide”.

“Therefore, today’s meeting can be clearly considered a further step in our collective action to implement the 2005 Wold Summit Outcome in the development field,” she said.  For many, the Internet had become an essential part of both business and personal life.  But, unfortunately, for billions of people, it was still something which remained out of reach.  “We need to change this,” she said, stressing that the Internet could help the poorest in the world gain access to information, education and markets, as well as to harness their full development potential.  “In our global world, we have no choice, but to work together, at the national and international levels, if we want to enable people everywhere to fully enjoy the greatest benefits if information and communication technologies,” she said.

Introducing the resolution, Montasser Ouaili, Minister of Communication Technology of Tunisia, said his country had been happy to host the World Summit on the Information Society, which had been marked by the presence of a record number of participants from Governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and the media.  The development of information and communication technology had not always been an equally shared element of growth, as the digital divide had increasingly widened among countries, regions and social categories.  When used soundly, and adapted to the local context, that technology could enhance economic and human development and open up prospects for partnership and investment.  Today, the integration of information and communication technology as a strategic tool for development was more an imperative than a choice.

Thus, the international community should step up efforts to enable all countries, particularly the less developed ones, to benefit from the digital revolution and to provide propitious conditions for the establishment of an international digital partnership, based on a common vision of solidarity, complementarity and co-development, he said.

He said the “Tunis Commitment” expressed the international community’s political will to bridge the digital divide and establish a balanced and development-oriented society.  The “Tunis Agenda” covered three main themes:  the financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide; Internet governance; and the implementation and follow-up of the Summit results.  Now, at the post-Tunis stage, all parties involved, whatever their priorities and interests, must honour their commitments to concretely “materialize” the international awareness so as to establish a more balanced, harmonious and solidarity-based information society.

In other business, the Assembly elected Israel, by acclamation, to the membership of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, for a term of office to start at election and to expire on 31 December 2008.

The Assembly also decided, without a vote, to approve a list of civil society organizations, as orally corrected, for participation in the high-level meeting and comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the targets set out in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, to be convened from 31 May to 2 June.  It took note of the information that Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Dominica had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Arab Group), Austria (on behalf of the European Union), South Africa (on behalf of the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China), Brazil (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group), Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria and Syria.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and information and communication technology for development.  It was also expected to elect 20 members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination.

On information and communication technology, the Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/60/687) conveying the report of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10 to 12 December 2003 for the first phase, and in Tunis, Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.  For more background information on the outcome of that Summit, see Press Release PI/1694 of 21 November 2005, or refer to www.itu.int/wsis.

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on the issue (document A/60/L.50), by which it would endorse the “Tunis Commitment” and the “Tunis Agenda for the Information Society” adopted by the Summit at its second phase, welcoming the strong development orientation of the outcomes and the progress achieved towards a multi-stakeholder approach in building a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society.

The Assembly would further welcome the “Digital Solidarity fund” in Geneva as an innovative financial mechanism with the objective of transforming the “digital divide” into digital opportunities for the developing world and seeking new voluntary sources of “solidarity” financing.

By the text, the Assembly would request the Economic and Social Council to oversee the system-wide follow-up of the Summit outcomes and to review, at its substantive session of 2006, the mandate, agenda and composition of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

Also, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to convene a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue, called the “Internet Governance Forum”.

The Assembly also had before it a draft decision on participation of civil society representatives in the high-level meeting and comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the targets set out in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, to be convened from 31 May to 2 June 2006 (document A/60/L.51), by which it would approve the list of civil society representatives for participation in the event, as contained in an annex to document A/60/CRP.2.

As for the election of 20 members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/60/216 and Add.1) informing the Assembly that the Economic and Social Council had nominated for election Benin, Central African Republic, Senegal and South Africa (African States); India, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan (Asian States); Armenia, Belarus and Bulgaria (Eastern European States); Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay (Latin American and Caribbean States); and Israel, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland (Western European and Other States).

Action

At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly was informed that the President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, had been promoted to Foreign Minister of Sweden.

The General Assembly took note of the information that Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Dominica had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision (document A/2006/L.51) approving the list of civil society organizations for participation in the high-level meeting and comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the targets set out in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, to be convened from 31 May to 2 June.  The list is contained in document A/2006/CRP.2, to which the representative of Japan made an oral correction.

Statement by General Assembly President

JUDITH MBULA BAHEMUKA (Kenya), speaking on behalf of General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, said that information and communication technology was a critical issue in the wider discussions on development.  Last September, world leaders had gathered for the Assembly’s 2005 Summit and had renewed their commitments to the timely realization of the objectives agreed at the major United Nations conferences and Summits, as well as those described in the Millennium Development Goals.  To that end, they also recognized the key role science and technology, including information and communication technology, played.

She went on to recall that the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS that took place in Tunis form 16 to 18 November 2005, had contributed substantially towards the strengthening of the international community’s vision of a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society.  Two years after the Geneva Plan of Action -- adopted by the first phase of the WSIS -- established critical targets for global connectivity by 2015, the world community now had the Tunis Agenda, which, among other things, provided specific steps to bridge the “digital divide”.  It also called for turning principles into action, such as setting up financial mechanisms and following up the decisions that had been taken at both meetings.

“Therefore, today’s meeting can be clearly considered a further step in our collective action to implement he 2005 Wold Summit Outcome in the development field,” she said.  For many, the Internet had become an essential part of both business and personal life.  But, unfortunately, for billions of people, it was still something that remained out of reach.  “We need to change this,” she said, stressing that the Internet could help the poorest in the world gain access to information, education and markets, as well as harness their full development potential.

“It can give a greater voice to those who have been marginalized,” she said, adding “The world needs to ensure that all the benefits the Internet can bring are accessible to as many people as possible, particularly in the developing world.”  The world community must also find ways to protect people from the more harmful aspects of the Internet, while always ensuring that it is governed in a way that ensures freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.  Internet governance should both embrace multilateral cooperation and involve Governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, broader civil society and the media.

“In our global world, we have no choice but to work together, at the national and international levels, if we want to enable people everywhere to fully enjoy the greatest benefits of information and communication technology,” she said.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

MONTASSER OUAILI, Minister of the Communication Technologies of Tunisia, presented the draft resolution entitled “World Summit on the Information Society” (document A/60/L.50).  His country had been happy to have hosted the Summit, which had been marked by the presence of a record number of participants from Governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and the media.  Tunisia’s President had first proposed such a summit eight years ago, at a time when the world was still in the wake of the digital revolution, which, since then, “had known significant dimensions”.

He said that the development of information and communication technology had not always been an equally shared element of growth.  The digital divide, throughout the years, had increasingly widened among countries, regions and social categories, at a time when that technology should have served as a factor of integration, and should have actively contributed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  When used soundly, and adapted to the local context, that technology could enhance economic and human development and open up prospects for partnership and investment.  Today, the integration of information and communication technology as a strategic tool for development was more an imperative than a choice.

Thus, the international community should step up efforts to enable all countries, particularly the less developed ones, to benefit from the digital revolution, and to provide propitious conditions for the establishment of an international digital partnership, based on a common vision of solidarity, complementarity and co-development, he said.  The holding of the Summit in two phases –- Geneva and Tunis -- carried a message of solidarity, advocating the creation of a bridge between various degrees of development and different digital realities.  The outcomes crowned a long preparatory process, to which all participants had contributed, aimed at serving the interests of all peoples.

He said that the year 2015, the date set for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, had also been adopted as the reference date to examine implementation of the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society.  The “Tunis Commitment” expressed the international community’s political will to bridge the digital divide and establish a balanced and development-oriented society.  The “Tunis Agenda” covered three main themes:  the financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide; Internet governance; and the implementation and follow-up of the Summit results.  Now, at the post-Tunis stage, all parties involved, whatever their priorities and interests, must honour their commitments to concretely “materialize” the international awareness, so as to establish a more balanced, harmonious and solidarity-based information society.

The resolution submitted today called for implementing and following up the results of the two phases of the Summit by all the parties involved, namely Governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector.  It asked the Economic and Social Council to supervise the follow-up, and for the General Assembly to undertake an overall examination of the implementation of the Summit’s conclusions in 2015.  Among its other terms, it sought to proclaim 17 May of each year a “World Day for the Information Society”.

Statements

ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the inequitable possession of technology was one of the important factors that had led to a growing digital and civilizational divide among advanced and developing countries.  Alarmed at the clear disparity in access to information and communication technology, which had led to ignoring many problems in the Third World and encouraged several media in some countries to distort historical, cultural and religious facts, he reiterated the responsibilities of advanced countries and international economic institutions to strengthen their assistance to developing countries according to the Monterrey Consensus.  He also called for establishing legal and moral standards to regulate information and communication technology, and prevent using it for criminal, ethnic and terrorist purposes or for deliberate distortion of facts and information.

He said that strengthening the role of the United Nations required, now more than ever, putting modern information and communication technology at the service of the Organization, in order to enable it to carry out its responsibilities.  He, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s proposal, in his report Investing in the United Nations, which called for the creation of a “Head of Information Technologies” position.  Commending his call for modernizing information and communication technology in all divisions and departments, he emphasized the need to enhance the use of Arabic language services in all modern technology systems, in order to foster interaction between countries and people who spoke Arabic -- a total of 10 per cent of Member States -- and its programmes and activities.

The Arab Group also supported the proposal that called for expanding the rules of procedure and agenda of the Committee on Harnessing Science and Technology for Development, in order to enable it to follow-up on the recommendations and decisions adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society, as well as the proposals that called on the Assembly to review, in 2015, progress achieved, and those relating to the establishment of a digital solidarity fund for helping developing countries and countries with economies in transition have access to information and communication technology .

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Summit had been a success.  It had led the international community further along the way from principles to action.  The Tunis documents addressed the open issues from Geneva on Internet governance and financial mechanisms, and promoted the establishment of partnerships between various stakeholders.  By reaffirming the Geneva principles, the Summit had also restated the essential role of the freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge.

In Tunis, Member States had reaffirmed their commitment to bridging the digital divide and recognized the important role of information and communication technology in promoting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he continued.  The Union firmly believed that it was necessary to take a comprehensive view on digital solidarity.  While stressing the need to focus on the mobilization of resources through existing financial mechanisms, he welcomed the establishment of the Digital Solidarity Fund last year in Geneva as a voluntary and complementary financial mechanism for funding the information society.

The European Union was satisfied that Internet governance had been established as a core issue of the information society agenda.  In order to address key elements of Internet governance, the Tunis Summit recognized the need for enhanced cooperation to enable Governments to carry out their responsibilities.  A process towards enhanced cooperation involving all relevant organizations was to be launched by the Secretary-General.  The Union was looking forward to his initiatives, in that respect. He also welcomed the fact that the Secretary-General was asked to convene a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue -- the Internet Governance Forum.  He welcomed the announcement that the inaugural meeting of that Forum would be held in Athens, Greece, from 30 October to 2 November this year.

The European Union had stressed the need for a multi-stakeholder approach also with regard to the implementation process of the Tunis Summit, recalling in particular the indicative and non-exhaustive character of the list of facilitators/moderators for the action lines of the Geneva Plan of Action as contained in the Annex to the Tunis Agenda.  Finally, the Union was prepared to further contribute constructively to the follow-up and implementation of the Summit as foreseen in the Tunis documents.

SIVU MAQUNGO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the need for a multi-stakeholder approach reflected the reality of today’s global system in which all partners had to become involved to create an information society that was inclusive, people-centred and development-focused.  He was particularly pleased that it had been acknowledged that information and communication technology could also be a powerful tool for development and could offer many opportunities to the disadvantaged sectors of society.  Indeed, the creation of an inclusive and development-oriented information society was in the best interest of the majority of humanity.  Most peoples of the world, especially from the developing countries, were confronted by the challenge of exclusion in the context of the global economy.  Within the context of the Assembly, it was important to recognize that proper use of information and communication technology could assist in the eradication of poverty and implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

By adopting today’s resolution, the Assembly was transmitting its intention to implement the outcome of the Geneva and Tunis Summits, he continued.  It indicated, among other things, its reaffirmation that the international management of the Internet should be a multilateral, transparent and democratic process, with full involvement of Governments, the private sector, the civil society and international organizations.  Accordingly, one of the fundamental challenges facing all Member States was to build multilateral and multi-stakeholder institutions and systems, rooted within the United Nations system, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to information and communication technology, within the context of an Internet governance system that was legitimate, transparent and accountable.  The importance of enhanced cooperation that would involve all relevant organizations and all stakeholders in their respective roles was also being emphasized.  Furthermore, the important role of the United Nations, through the Economic and Social Council and the possible strengthening of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, was also being addressed.

In conclusion, he stressed the need to ensure monitoring of the implementation of the Geneva and Tunis Summits and follow-up to those events.  In that regard, he welcomed the proposal to request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, which would, in particular, look at recommendations on the follow-up process.  The international community, in particular the United Nations, needed to remain engaged, to ensure that the digital divide between the developed and developing world was bridged, to contribute to the eradication of poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

ENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), said that follow-up to the two-phase World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) had been well defined by the Tunis Agenda, adopted in 2005, which first called on the Secretary-General to establish, in consultation with the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), a United Nations group on the information society, consisting of the “relevant UN bodies with the mandate to facilitate implementation of the WSIS outcomes”.

He went on to say that multi-stakeholder implementation should be based on specific themes and lines of action, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) should take the lead, in that regard.  Second, the Tunis Agenda requested the Economic and Social Council to oversee the system-wide follow-up of the outcomes of both conferences.  It was also requested to review the mandate, agenda and composition of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, including considering strengthening that body, taking into account the multi-stakeholder approach.

It was important that all stakeholders -- Governments, civil society, the private sector and international organizations -- participated in the process, he said, adding that inter-agency coordination for the implementation needed political guidance and feedback, given the wide range of actors taking part.  The Economic and Social Council was recognized as the central mechanism for system-wide coordination and follow-up of the major United Nations meetings and conferences in the economic and social field, and should, therefore, follow-up in this case, particularly regarding the reform of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, including its agenda, composition and mandate.

To that end, he said that the Economic and Social Council should ensure that there was an open and transparent discussion on the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, including by considering the establishment of an open-ended working group in Geneva, with the participation of the private sector and civil society.  The discussions on the Commission should be completed in time for a review at the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council, in July.  The goal of all this should be to ensure that the Commission could oversee the WSIS follow-up process during its May 2007 session.

HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said that, given the disturbing trend of the digital divide, the Summits in Geneva and Tunis had devoted special attention to the need to avoid perpetuating the prevailing glaring inequities.  The two landmark Summits urged that immediate measures be taken to bridge that divide and bring the benefits of information and communication technology to all.  Malaysia had long recognized the inextricable link between information and communication technology and development, particularly the need for a more inclusive, innovative and progressive approach to the realization of a global information society.  While the Tunis Summit provided the momentum needed to convert the digital divide into digital opportunities, the Summit’s overall success should not blind the world to the many challenges ahead.

He said that, among those challenges, was how to improve the current Internet coordination arrangements, without undermining Internet stability, and how to provide information and communication technology access to all, without jeopardizing existing financial mechanisms.  Other challenges included how to ensure that risk factors, such as lack of network and information security, encroachment of privacy and “spam” were reduced and eliminated, and how to create additional incentives, in order to mobilize the appropriate parties to expand networks and attract new information and communication technology users.  Another challenge was to develop the best institutional environment for fostering market development and enabling the achievement of connectivity goals.  Beyond Tunis, a true test for an engaged, empowered information society would be to ensure that the fruits of today’s powerful knowledge-based tools were within the reach of people living in even the most impoverished economies.  Communication and information must be readily available to all humanity, and not just to the privileged few.

ASAD M. KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the leaders at the 2005 World Summit had committed themselves to building a people-centred and inclusive information society, to enhance digital opportunities for all people, in order to help bridge the digital divide and to put the potential of information and communication technology at the service of development.  The WSIS process had been a bold and unique attempt to address information and communication technology issues through a structured and inclusive approach, involving multi-stakeholder participation.  The high-level political participation in both the Geneva and Tunis phases had provided the much needed political impetus to the evolving global vision of an information society.

Welcoming the strong development orientation of the outcomes, he called for their full implementation, including of such mandated processes as the Internet Governance Forum and enhanced cooperation.  As chair of the Subcommittee on Internet Governance, his country had played a pivotal role in forging consensus.  Important issues, such as Internet governance, cyber security, open source and freedom of expression, as well as the role of media, needed to be resolved in a manner that took due cognisance of the interests of all stakeholders.

He said Pakistan’s vision of an information society was one that was inclusive and afforded opportunities to people, regardless of frontiers, to benefit from the possibilities it brought, in all spheres of human existence.  His country had made massive investments in education, infrastructure development, increasing telephone density and universalising access to the Internet.  It had also evolved a comprehensive national information and communication technology strategy and an effective mechanism to monitor its implementation.  If the opportunities of information and communication technology were to be fully exploited, it would be necessary to develop capabilities to adapt, maintain, customize and reconfigure existing technology solutions to specific requirements.

RAM BABU DHAKAL ( Nepal) said the targeted objectives of the Plan of Action should contribute to enhancing the capacity of developing countries, particularly least developed ones, concerning the use of information and communication technology for development, cyber-security, Internet governance, affordable access, infrastructure and capacity-building, cultural diversity and the media.  The international community should help least developed countries in their national efforts towards developing a physical infrastructure, as well as laws and regulations for the development of information technology.  Development of the human and technical resources was essential for the improvement of information and communication systems in developing countries.

He said digital domination and the negative effect of globalization had made the rich richer and the poor poorer.  That trend should be firmly and collectively rejected, in order to avoid further marginalization of least developed countries.  The development of an inclusive information society should expand human capacity for access to the tools they needed, with the education and training to use them effectively.  However, financial and technical impediments constrained many developing countries in attempting to establish a knowledge-based economy.  Effective utilization of information and communication technology would tremendously facilitate endeavours towards narrowing the widening digital divide.

The United Nations systems must help in reducing the disparities between developing and developed countries, through delivery of concrete results in technical cooperation, effectiveness and impact on development programmes aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  His Government considered that the development and use of information and communication technology would enhance transparency and accountability, and had adopted a national information and communication technology policy, aiming at creating a conducive environment, in which all stakeholders would benefit from the development of the information and communication technology sector.  Unfortunately, terrorist activities had destroyed some infrastructure of telecommunications in his country.  His Government was fully committed to restoring peace and security, and protecting life and property of the people.

AMINU BASHIR WALI ( Nigeria) aligned himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China, and stressed the vital need to move quickly to bridge the digital divide, in order to tap the vast potential of information and communication technology in helping to achieve development goals and socio-economic growth.  Therefore, he welcomed adoption of the resolution on the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society.   Nigeria attached great importance to the outcome of the two phases of the Summit and called on Member States, as well as other relevant stakeholders, to fulfil the commitments they had made.  President Obasanjo had demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to the overall objectives of information and communication technology through his attendance at the Summit, as well as financial contribution to the Digital Solidarity Fund.  Mindful of the benefits of information and communication technology, the country had incorporated an ambitious information and communication technology programme into its National Empowerment Development Strategy -- an all-encompassing national development strategy.  Information and communication technology should contribute to the realization of the objectives of that programme, which, in turn, would put Nigeria on the track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  His country was encouraging and promoting “E-governance” in its public sector reforms to improve service delivery and efficiency.

Nigeria welcomed the attention given to the circumstances of developing countries and countries with special needs, in the area of information and communication technology, especially in Africa, he continued.  It was important for the international community to provide affordable access to information and communication technology, and ensure that its facilities were people-centred and carried local content, while, at the same time, being mindful of the diversity of the global community.  He hoped that concerted efforts would be made to translate words into action, through full and urgent implementation of the agreements and plans of action, as agreed in Geneva and Tunis in the context of the World Summit on Information Society.

MILAD ATIEH ( Syria) said the active participation of States in the Tunis Summit had demonstrated their great resolve to contribute to the development of an information society available to all peoples of the world.  The outcome of the Tunis event had reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to the outcome of the Geneva Summit, addressed the need to reduce the digital divide, recognized the vital importance of developing information and communication technology to achieve development, and established a process for the implementation of the Summit.  It had also developed such new principles as the use of information and communication technology to promote peace and the need to meet the needs of certain countries and societies, including those in the aftermath of conflicts and natural disasters.

Among other issues addressed by the Summit, he also listed Internet governance and the responsibility of Governments to play their proper role in managing the Internet.  His delegation appreciated the contribution of Governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector to the building of the information society and the Internet, for the promotion of development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.   Syria had adopted steps to promote information and communication technology and restructured its information and communication sector, including through the adoption of programmes encouraging the use information technologies, and development of the relevant infrastructure.  He was convinced of the need to develop the information society in an equitable way.  The digital divide needed to be reduced.

Action

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/2006/L.50, entitled “World Summit on the Information Society”, without a vote.

The Assembly then elected, by acclamation, Israel to fill one of the two remaining vacancies from the Group of Western European and Other States in the Committee for Programme and Coordination, for a term of office to start at election and to expire on 31 December 2008.

On 3 November 2005, the Assembly had elected 18 members to the Committee for a three-year term of office, beginning on 1 January.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.