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December 09, 2003Kofi Annan speaks. The Daily Summit has been watching the UN Secretary General address the World Electronic Media Forum. He's been talking about the need to bridge the digital divide, and spoke of the power of the electronic media to educate and arouse the conscience, but stressed that the paradox is that it still doesn't reach millions around the world.
We've got his full address if you click on the following link.
He said the digital divide is not just digital, but reflects wide disparities in freedom, wealth and power, and ultimately in hope for a better future - and added that the delegates "are here together in Geneva to put power and paradox together and come up with a plan as partners".
Text of Kofi Annan's speech to the World Economic Forum at WSIS, Tuesday 9th December 2003.
"Ladies and Gentleman, we have just seen the voices and reports from around the world of the power and paradox facing us all. As producers and consumers of electronic media in the information age, the power is clear to educate and entertain, to inspire and inform, to sound the alarm and arouse the conscience, to bring people in places closer together, to shine light on injustice in the world. In the Information Age, electronic media are among the most important vehicles of peace, progress, and solidarity.
And yet there is a paradox. Electronic media may seek to be everywhere but there are many millions of people in the world who it still does not reach. Many do not have electricity let alone electronic media. Others are too poor to buy televisions, radios or satellite dishes. And barriers are not only technical signals, are broadcast in a limited number of languages. In some countries it is not legal to receive signals from around the world. Some programming can make people in rich countries more sensitive to the plight of the less fortunate.
But ownerships provoke envy and resentment on the part of the deprived. Media have also been used in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda, as elsewhere, to disseminate hatred via stereotyping and propaganda. And the consolidation of media ownership has sparked concern about lack of pluralism.
The digital divide is not just digital. It reflects wide disparities in freedom, wealth and in power, and ultimately in hope for a better future. We are here together in Geneva to put power and paradox together and come up with a plan as partners. The goal is not more information in more cases, but an information society open and inclusive in which knowledge can pass all people and serves a cause of improving the human condition.
The media are fellow stakeholders in that work, and freedom of the press is essential if you are to fulfil that vital role. It is one thing for governments to establish regulatory policy and framework, but when they go further down the slope to a censorship and harassment, all of us - and potentially all our rights are imperilled. The summit must reaffirm this fundamental freedom.
Information technologies have brought us into a new age, but also to a threshold, with the explosion of knowledge and capacity, we have more than ever before the ability to reach development goals we have never had before in goals we have sought in many, many years. Like those who witnessed the dawn of the Industrial Age, people around the world are being given their first glimpses of exciting new achievements ahead. All over the developing world, as antennas and satellite dishes sprout across a landscape - some of them placed there in defiance of the authorities - we can see the immense thirst for connection. Let us show that we are listening and we are going to help them fulfil their dream. Thank you very much."