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November 13, 2003
Debates on WSIS at the European Social Forum
Activists at the European Social Forum
in Paris have just been debating WSIS, the issues involved and their planned response.
Several issues were raised as matters of concern, including:
- worries whether the ITU was the right body to be co-ordinating the event - some speakers considered that UNESCO was more appropriate. One speaker suggested that when the ITU agreed to taking it on, the event was envisioned as a much more technology based affair, rather than the society-focused project it has become.
- whether private businesses, the UN organisations and western governments had too much weight in the build-up to the event, at the expense of civil society and poorer countries. One enraged speaker from the panel fumed at how (he claimed) NGOs were allowed to turn up for preparatory meetings, make their five minute presentation and were told to run along while the real preparation got underway.
- whether zealous advocates of using new technologies to solve problems in developing countries (primarily large businesses, it was claimed) really had the interests of the people at heart, or whether such societies might be better to focus on basic telephone and radio networks
- alternatively, whether rural areas, where it was not profitable to increase productivity, would ever get connected if responsibility was left to the private sector.
Tomorrow night sees a big planning meeting for the 'WSIS - We Seize
!' counter summit in Genva, running alongside the official summit.