December 12, 2003Club sandwich. Rumour has it that when the Earl of Sandwich first ordered that his lunch be placed between two pieces of bread so his cards wouldn't get greasy, he added: "I'll wager that these 'sandwiches' will be so popular that, at UN conferences, they'll be eating 22,000 of them."
How could he have known? Read on for more astonishing facts to amaze your friends...
As the World Summit draws to a close, the dour citizens of Geneva are winding down their shutters in anticipation of the world's largest and most multicultural burp.
Over the last three days participants at the World Summit have drunk an estimated 38,000 cans and bottles of carbonated drinks. The spontaneous release of carbon dioxide threatens to put Switzerland in breach of its Kyoto commitments. Summit organisers who promised to make the event carbon dioxide neutral will be spending the rest of their careers planting saplings.
Government delegates feasted on 360 meals, while everyone else drank 26,000 cans of Coke. If the conference has achieved little else, [atrocious joke warning] it has at least reinforced the adage that Coca Cola is IT.
(Written with Erin Dean)
December 11, 2003Sing-along-summit. How do you make your press conference stand out from all the others?
Head of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Ole-Henrik Magga decided to round his off with a song.
Without any backing, brave Mr Magga from the Sami reindeer hunting tribes of Northern Europe, trilled a song about a young reindeer meeting an early end in life.
What summit security? Activists have managed to obtain an official pass for the summit using an assumed identiy and a fake plastic identity card - breaching the summit's supposedly tight security.
They are also furious that summit passes, which contain a radio chip, can be used to track the movements of delegates, with information stored in a central database - especially as the database could be transferred to the Tunisian authorities, who host WSIS 2 in 2005.
"The big problem is that system also fails to guarantee the promised high levels of security while introducing the possibility of constant surveillance of the representatives of civil society, many of whom are critical of certain governments and regimes.
"Sharing this data with any third party would be putting civil society participants at risk, but this threat is made concrete in the context of WSIS by considering the potential impact of sharing the data collected with the Tunisian government in charge of organizing the event in 2005." Competition! We've decided to give away our Tunisian goodie bag to one lucky reader. All you have to do is come up with the best alternative acronym for WSIS, and add it to our list of comments - we'll email the winner.
Two suggestions are..
We Suffer in Silence or West Suffocates its Subordinates.
Thieves at work? Daily Summit receives an email from the people behind Terra Viva newspaper, accusing shadowy, and possibly Tunisian, figures of making off with huge numbers of their newspapers.
"A woman who identified herself as an architect from Tunisia took an estimated 1,000 copies "for her friends" and responded angrily when questioned...
"Two women stuffed plastic bags full of newspapers. They hurried away when questioned... Three people from Tunisia attacked [two of the papers journalists] saying that in the newspaper there were lots of lies about their country. Then tried to steal about three hundreds of copies."
Terra Viva has been quite critical of Tunisia - controversial host of WSIS-the-sequel in 2005. Perhaps this is a ham-fisted attempt to hush up criticism. Of course, it also excellent publicity for Terra Viva... We have a message from David Green, Director General of the British Council, who's been taking a look at Daily Summit, at an event where the head of the British delegation, DTI Minister Stephen Timms MP, was in attendence.
"I am delighted that the British Council is enabling people from around the world to participate in the debates emerging from this summit. This innovative bi-lingual English and Arabic weblog is an example of how the global information society works and of the exciting opportunities it offers in the future," Mr Green said.
December 10, 2003UN believable. No money-guzzling bureaucrat is worth his attache case these days if he doesn't belong to an organisation with an acronym. Before you settle on yours, however, make sure it hasn't already been snaffled by someone else. Here is a handy guide to the 56 acro-fetishists attending the World Summit...
full name: Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development
not to be confused with: American Institute of Building Design
full name: Asia-Pacific Telecommunity
not to be confused with: Association for the Prevention of Torture
full name: Association of South-East Asian Nations
not to be confused with: Aslan, the lion from C.S. Lewis's books
full name: African Telecommunications Union
not to be confused with: Arkansas Technical University
full name: European Organisation for Nuclear Research
not to be confused with: Age Concern, a charity for the elderly
full name: Centre Technique de Cooperation Agricole et Rurale
not to be confused with: California Teachers' Association
full name: Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
not to be confused with: Cato, Inspector Clouseau's assistant in the Pink Panther films played by Burt Kwouk
full name: Inter-American Telecommunication Commission
not to be confused with: Harvey Keitel, an American actor
full name: Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l'Afrique Centrale
not to be confused with: Crisis and Emergency Management Centre, Belgium
full name: Economic Commission for Africa
not to be confused with: Edinburgh College of Art
full name: Economic Commission for Europe
not to be confused with: Electrical and Computer Engineering
full name: Comision Economica para America Latina y el Caribe
not to be confused with: with Exlax, the bowel-purging medicine
full name: Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
not to be confused with: the Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen
full name: Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
not to be confused with: Executive Service Corps of Washington
full name: Food and Agriculture Organisation
not to be confused with: Falco, the germanic pop star who came to fame with Rock Me Amadeus
full name: International Atomic Energy Agency
not to be confused with: Tarzan's cry
full name: International Committee of the Red Cross
not to be confused with: International Cosmic Ray Conference
full name: not sure. Most likely the Information And Emergency Aid Department
not to be confused with: Igreja Evangelica Assembleia de Deus
full name: International Labour Organisation
not to be confused with: ELO, the 1980s band the Electric Light Orchestra
full name: Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
not to be confused with: UNESCO
full name: International Trade Centre
not to be confused with: Independent Television Commission
full name: International Telecommunications Union
not to be confused with: International Triathlon Union
full name: International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation
not to be confused with: Information Technology Student Organisation
full name: Latin American Technological Information Network
not to be confused with: Rizla cigarette papers
full name: United Nations programme on AIDS
not to be confused with: adenoids
full name: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
not to be confused with: what a mathematician says if you punch him while he's doing sums
full name: United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development
not to be confused with: STDs
full name: United Nations Development Programme
not to be confused with: underpants
full name: United Nations Environment Programme
full name: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
not to be confused with: Tesco, the British supermarket
full name: United Nations Fund for International Partnerships
not to be confused with: failure to go to the gym
full name: United Nations Population Fund
not to be confused with: a sound made by a Bavarian oompah band
full name: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
not to be confused with: UNCR, the United Nations Common Room at a hall of residence at Queens University, Ontario
full name: United Nations Human Settlements Programme
not to be confused with: Habitat, the furniture shop founded by Sir Terence Conran
full name: United Nations Children's Fund
not to be confused with: Cif, the detergent
full name: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
not to be confused with: Uni, the annoying unicorn from the children's cartoon Dungeons and Dragons
full name: United Nations Industrial Development Organisation
not to be confused with: a doo-doo
full name: United Nations Development Fund for Women
not to be confused with: a femidom
full name: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
full name: United Nations Institute for Training and Research
not to be confused with: an evil character from the children's cartoon He-Man
full name: United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
not to be confused with: Mick Hucknall, the ginger-haired singer from Simply Red
full name: United Nations Non Governmental Liaison Service
not to be confused with: Friedrich Engels
full name: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
not to be confused with: Gotcha!, the less than sensitive headline used by the Sun newspaper when the Royal Navy sank the Argentine warship the Belgrano
full name: United Nations Office at Geneva
not to be confused with: Noggin the Nog
full name: United Nations Office for Project Services
full name: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
full name: United Nations Relief and Works Agency
not to be confused with: Niggaz With Attitude (NWA), a rap band formed in Compton, California in 1987
full name: United Nations University
not to be confused with: a type of Fiat car
full name: United Nations Volunteers
full name: Universal Postal Union
not to be confused with: Apu, from the Simpsons
full name: World Health Organisation
not to be confused with: The Who, the band that included the maniac drummer Keith Moon
full name: World Intellectual Property Organisation
not to be confused with: wino, a persistently drunk man
full name: World Meteorological Organisation
not to be confused with: Worldwide Missionary Outreach
full name: World Trade Organisation
not to be confused with: World Tourism Organisation Let a million speeches bloom - His Excellency Mr. Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation, fresh from re-election, has kicked off a couple of days of speeches. He urged the world to bridge the digital divide - arguing that "if the rich countries do not keep their promises, they will plunge poor countries into despair."
Kofi Annan has now taken the floor, claiming that English-language websites are, at times, crowding out local views...
Are you sitting comfortably? If you get a queasy feeling upon entering the main hall at the World Summit, it might not just be because of the childish drawings projected onto the wobbly screen at the front. The seating plan requires a degree in Kremlinology to negotiate.
To settle most arguments, the seating plan is mainly based on the schoolroom system of alphabetical order (although presumably delegates will not be allowed to move desks to be near their friends in case they distract one another). This is a tremendous boon for states listed between Bahrain and Burkina Faso, who get to sit in the middle of the front row, but not such wonderful news for Singapore and Zimbabwe, who have to sit at the far extremes of the hall in seats that are the equivalent of being sat next to the lavatory in a restaurant.
A worse snub goes to Palestine, which as a troublemaker has to sit in the back row with all the dunces like the British Virgin Islands and the Military Order of Malta (which inexplicably gets its own seat in addition to the Maltese government's place between Mali and the Marshall Islands). It should not feel lonely, however. The row also contains an astonishing 58 supranational agencies, which we'll get to in a little bit...
Daily Summit would like to extend a warm welcome to East Timor's only representative, who asked its reporter to take a photo of him at his seat.
Jack Malvern @ 01:54 PM | Comments (1)Tunisian PR. Further to our earlier post, the defiant Tunisians have firmly set out their 'stall' with a large and colourful stand, just outside the main hall, advertising their 2005 summit.
Erin Dean @ 01:02 PM | Comments (0)Optimism reigns. Well, cautious optimism anyway. An hour before the official opening of the summit, Daily Summit has been mingling with the thousands - who are themselves mingling around the hundreds of civil society stands - asked a handful for their view so far.
"I am relieved that the Declaration and Action Plan have arrived at last on the eve, and that they broadly express concerns about global society", one man said. Another was particularly glad with the recognition of libraries in the information society.
One woman told us that she was pleased to see so many organisations here, and that she believed there is a reasonable focus on using IT for development. But she added that she "would like to see the conference acknowledge that we need to address how people who can't get access to the internet can get connected".
Cara Swift @ 12:49 PM | Comments (0)Free goodies. The Tunisian government are marketing themselves heavily in Geneva, almost as if they're trying to gather goodwill for the next stage of the Summit. Daily Summit has just been handed a large goodie bag, with a free t-shirt, hat, a badge and a key ring. As well as a CD of photos of Tunisia. Can't see how free stuff is going to make this go away.
Aaron Scullion @ 12:40 PM | Comments (1)Giant SMS. The Hello World project (which we told you about four weeks ago), is gathering a lot of momentum - and has even made it into Wired. We were in a taxi driving through Geneva Tuesday evening, and saw the sight for ourselves - it's pretty impressive. The giant neon green text messages scroll down the length of the water stream, hundreds of feet up in the air, and can be seen right across the city centre.
Aaron Scullion @ 07:12 AM | Comments (0)WSIS webcasts. If you're not with us in Geneva, there's a number of ways to see what's going on. The General Debate, as well as key press conferences, will be webcast and archived on the WSIS site. The World Electronic Media Forum (running parallel to WSIS) is also broadcasting its main sessions on the web.
If you come across any other good WSIS webcasts, publicise them by adding the link in the comments section below. Thanks.
Aaron Scullion @ 06:35 AM | Comments (0)
December 09, 2003Mr Who? The list of speakers in the General Debate is now on the WSIS website. Each country is, in theory, represented by the head of the national delegation.
Except... the US and the UK don't appear to have decided who's going to speak on their behalf. At 1900 CET - both countries are being represented by the same, nameless delegate - 'His Excellency Mr. '.
The only other country in this situation is Honduras.
Aaron Scullion @ 07:07 PM | Comments (0)"Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh....." We interrupt this post to bring you the sad news that David Steven, hyperactive blogger and aged resident of this site, has been incarcerated in a Swiss asylum, following a serious - and we fear irreversible - breakdown.
Steven was dragged away by a UN-seconded Swiss soldier, frothing at the mouth and clutching his beloved laptop to his chest. "All I want is an internet connection," he was heard to scream. "We're supposed to be at the heart of the internet revolution but everything's [bleeped] and no one has a [bleeping] idea what's going on."
Steven arrived in Switzerland lunchtime today after a short flight from Southampton in the UK. Witnesses said he appeared "jaunty" as he walked from the airport to Palexpo, the rather ugly conference centre where the summit is being held.
However, this veteran of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, who had survived Joburg's basic (but serviceable) dial-up connections, soon found the following:
Problem#1 - The security cordon is incapable of coping even with the few delegates who have already arrived. There are many many men with guns, but very few x-ray machines. Nor are there even trays in which to place coats/phones/cameras etc. - small cardboard box lids are used instead. Expect to wait 30 minutes or so today (and presumably many hours tomorrow).
Problem#2 - Switzerland's electric sockets are not compatible with the rest of Europe's - the UK's are different again. Adaptors are on sale - outside the security cordon. So there's a queue to buy the adaptor and another to get back into the summit.
Problem#3 - The wi-fi network is free, according to the media centre's information desk - but it isn't working. Try the wired LAN. Which isn't working either. "We don't know anything about computers here," says a lady, politely. "Why don't you phone technical support?"
Problem#4 - Technical support is dealing with overload by picking up the phone and slamming it straight back down. Persistence pays and only 4 (international) calls later, a man answers. "There's only two of us and we have to set up computers for the whole summit. The LAN may not be working, but I don't have time to help you. Why not call back tomorrow?"
Problem#5 - A breakthrough! Wi-fi isn't working, because wi-fi isn't free! It's only 200 swiss francs (170 US dollars or so)! And the cards are sold... outside the summit perimeter. So... there's a queue to buy the card... and another to get back into the summit.
Apparently, the final straw for the poor fellow was when he overheard the woman selling the cards telling the man in front of him that the wireless network wasn't working very well. "But it's not our problem. If you're unhappy, call Swisscom."
Steven is not expected to make a recovery. Please feel free to add any messages of sympathy for him - or his 9 now-destitute children - in the comments below... Ironic! The Daily Summit is currently sitting in a World Electronic Media Forum envelope event where we are all waiting with bated breath for Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations to address the room of distinguished guests and media.
They have just shown a video featuring Finland and Honduras as extremes of the digital divide, and what difference information technology can make to people's lives. When Christine Ockrent, one of France's most famous presenters, then cued in a live video link discussion from Venezuela - to demonstrate the wonders of technology - the line went down... and with it three disappointed faces in Caracas.
Cara Swift @ 01:59 PM | Comments (1)Aboard the Marie Celeste. Granted, some of the meetings advertised here seem boring, but you would have thought that the speakers would turn up, at least. Not so, according to one exasperated volunteer standing outside the Labour and Information Society meeting. "Speakers haven't been turning up to about 25 per cent of the meetings," she said. "I think it's because they are having trouble getting through registration. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow."
With queues getting longer by the minute, we think this is optimistic.
Speakerless meetings (no speaker turning up within half an hour of the scheduled start) have so far included:
Labour and Information Society
Software Libre para una Sociedad del Conoc Igualitaria y Multicultural
Anyone wanting to name and shame meetings that bear a passing resemblance to the Marie Celeste should comment below....
Jack Malvern @ 01:33 PM | Comments (0)Gun count after 30 minutes at WSIS? Already in the dozens due to the various heavies, soldiers in full camouflage (not sure where they expect to find any trees in the sprawling concrete venue), and armed police.
Even as you approach the building armed guards peer down from the roof. And queues snake back from ranks of full body and bag scanners.
Erin Dean @ 11:46 AM | Comments (3)Arrival! The Daily Summit team has made it to Geneva! Given that the conference doesn't really get going until Wednesday, registration is pretty easy, right now, but give it a couple of hours and I think the queues may get a little out of hand. The Wi-Fi connections are working - more to follow on this - and I confidently predict that 'delegate using WI-FI laptop' will be the most popular snapshot of the summit. Our team has already been snapped twice by Japanese photographers..
Aaron Scullion @ 11:19 AM | Comments (0)
December 08, 2003Information? Society. We don't mean to go on, but the key summit documents still haven't been updated on the WSIS website, after the weekend's key negotiations - despite our calls and emails to the press office..
Update 2200 CET: The documents are now available. Thanks to Robert from the ITU for the link.
Aaron Scullion @ 04:42 PM | Comments (6)Daily Summit has written about the sheer number of government, NGO and media delegates attending WSIS - but Forbes has a different complaint. Too few business delegates:
"As of yesterday, the Geneva WSIS registered nearly 13,000 participants from 174 countries. More than 9,000 are from states or non-governmental organizations. Just 636 are from businesses. Business members include such companies as might be expected like Microsoft, IBM and Time Warner, as well as multinationals like Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola and McDonald's, not particularly known for their roles in the information society."
More bureaucrats, more blaggers. Daily Summit's league of ligging covered nations attending WSIS. Now, the ITU newsroom tell us that almost 13,000 people will be in Geneva for the summit.
Astonishingly, 663 Non-Governmental Organisations will be represented by 4898 people - that's 7 persons per NGO. This compares to 174 countries who are sending 4574 representatives - 26 people per country delegation!
Cara Swift @ 11:21 AM | Comments (0)Bureaucrats or blaggers? How can you tell which countries are taking the World Summit seriously? (Or, at least, which countries will be taking home the most goodie bags?) Daily Summit presents its very own League of (ligging) Nations.
Malaysia comes out on top with a magnificent 137 delegates, while Cameroon, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone and East Timor share the wooden spoon with just one representative apiece.
Special mention should go to Nigeria for including a driver in their delegation, and to Samoa for sending a dancer. Finally, Gabon, for a population of 1,321,560, are sending 66 delegates - one for every 20,000 citizens!
The full delegate list can be found here.
1. Malaysia 137
2. Romania 116
3. France 108
4. Canada 101
5. Cuba 88
6. Japan 85
7. Russia 80
8. Iran 79
9. Nigeria 69
10. Gabon 66
ONE DELEGATE WONDERS
Papua New Guinea 1
San Marino 1
Sierra Leone 1
East Timor 1
Full league table
80 Russian Federation
66 United States
36 Korea (south)
34 United Kingdom
28 Saudi Arabia
22 Cote d'ivoire
20 Serbia and Montenegro
14 Sri Lanka
13 El Salvador
13 South Africa
10 Viet Nam
9 Burkina Faso
9 Syrian Arab Republic
8 Cape verde
8 New Zealand
6 Korea (North)
6 Trinidad and Tobago
4 Central African Republic
4 Costa Rica
2 Saint Kitts and Nevis
1 Papua New Guinea
1 San Marino
1 Sierra Leone
Additional reporting (counting) by Aaron Scullion.
Disclaimer - figures compiled by the Daily Summit team on Sunday 7th Dec - the list may have been updated since then, so feel free to let is know if your country's figure has changed!
December 05, 2003The "A" list excludes Princesses. One of the most interesting documents to come out of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is not one of the many drafts of principles or action plan for Tunis 2005.
No the key document, in my opinion, is the draft list of participants who will be admitted to some, not all, events in this carnival. The 229 page document cautions "This list does not include VIPs (Heads of State, Heads of Government, Vice-Presidents, Crown Princes and Princesses)" but it contains a fascinating look at who has been chosen to represent your nation at the summit.
More than half then entries are for non-profits or NGO's which are said to constitute the Civil Society. The uncivil society will be in Geneva; they will also be taking part but outside the highly guarded walls of Geneva's Palexpo and other conference venues, and they are not on the list.
There are also large numbers of UN attendees from all the related divisions and specialized agencies: ILO, UNIFEM, UNDP, etc, a few other international organizations like the development banks, and then commercial firms. Here's the breakdown:
There are about 40-60 names per page.
State representatives: 61 pages
UN and specialized agencies: 24 pages
Other Intl. organizations: 5 pages
NGOs: 122 pages
Business: 17 pages
Total: 229 pages
I know a few people who are attending, so I began looking at the country lists. The US has 53 delegates, all but one from government agencies. I found the librarians and USAID employees I know. Most of the small nations have small contingents-but not all.
No official reps. from North Korea, Somalia, Guinea, Sierra Leone.
LAO P.D.R. has one rep.
Maldives has two.
Timor has one
Tonga has two
Malta has nine
Kyrgyzstan has 33 reps including two presidential photographers
Malaysia tops the list with 129.
Canada is close behind with 94 plus dozens more flying under the government-
funded IDRC banner.
There are some special organizations that have quasi-government status like Palestine (7). Knights of Malta whose geographic domain is about 3 acres (1+ hectares) has 5 reps. l'Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie: 35 (they promote French culture and language in France and former colonies)
However, the long list of NGOs makes me wonder, "What do these groups do from day to day?" Some might ask that of the government reps too.
I can recognize some but many others are obscure. I found many organizations providing a "flag of convenience" for attendees from other foundations, universities, the street who needed to have some official affiliation in order to take part.
A sampling of the NGOs:
Cameroon Assn. of Women Engineers
African Youth for Transparency
Amitie Pologne Congo
APRIL - Association for Promotion and Research in Libre Computing
Benfam Institute of Natural Living (with 50+ 'reps' with Iranian surnames sharing
firstname.lastname@example.org) Anyone know what they do?
Forum of the Friends of the Net
Institute for Planetary Synthesis
International Possibilities Unlimited
Internet Society Wallonie
Les indigents et les avocats face aux procedures judiciaires devant la cour
supreme de justice
Molecular Diversity Preservation International
Oppressed Society Deliverance Organization
Temple of Understanding
Terre sans frontieres
Transnational Radical Party
Utmost Caring World
The largest delegation of all was from the World Electronic Media Forum with more than 550 attendees! What was surprising was the small size of the business sector - Hitachi, Alcatel, Cisco, Intl. Chamber of Commerce. Microsoft was not represented but I'm sure the World Bank was please to sponsor an African listed as "Mr Jacques BONJAWO, Chairman Board of Directors, Microsoft"
So perhaps the influence of the business sector will not be that great if they are this disinterested in the event.
Go here to search for someone by name, organization, or country
Steve Cisler joins the Daily Summit as a guest reporter
November 28, 2003WSIS Unzipped. There's a lot to be learnt in this article by Alan Toner (part of art collective Autonomedia, whose Info Exchange is quite something). Alan's article puts WSIS into context, details past attempts to tackle communication on this scale, and explains why it could be remembered, ironically, as a conference without content...
Aaron Scullion @ 04:22 AM | TrackBack
November 27, 2003Up-coming events The programme for the Civil Society Side Events, produced by the Swiss Platform of Civil Society in cooperation with various groups in Civil society is available online at www.communicationrights.org . It has been billed as the ultimate guide to the three days of the summit for those who want to grapple with the real issues of the "Information Society", with preview of the events on all the relevant websites. It provides info for those interested in the alternative events of the summit, inclusive of the WE Seize! events outside the official walls of the summit.
Claire Regan @ 10:09 AM | TrackBack
November 26, 2003WSIS stunts volume 1 - A t-shirt campaign, run by NGO Gender Strategies Working Group, has had government delegates craning their necks to read a message that until now had fallen upon deaf ears.
Ahmed Reda @ 11:58 PM | TrackBackLast minute bid for pre-WSIS solutions. Marc Furrer, the Swiss Government's Information Minister, plans last minute talks, on Dec 5 and 6 - the very eve of WSIS - to find agreement on key contentious issues. The No. 1 issue, for Furrer, is defining "the role of the press in the digital age... it's big.. for countries like Iran, China, Syria and Tunisia".
Believe it or not, Switzerland, home to perhaps the UN's biggest European operations, only joined the U.N. in March 2002: not because anyone had excluded the Swiss but because it took that long before the people in a tightly fought referendum overcame their inborn resistance to international entanglements and the fear that membership would affect their long-prized neutrality.
Hosting WSIS is Switzerland's first task as a member of the U.N. family - which may explain the investment in the so-called parallel events like the World Electronic Media Forum - and Minister Furrer's initiative in setting up those last ditch meetings. "It doesn't have to be high-level people - not ministers", says Furrer, "but I want people who can negotiate because they won't be able to consult with their capitals any more".
WSIS-watchers who have waded through three and a half PREPCOMS may be wondering whether to hold their breath on December 5 and 6.
Andrew Taussig @ 04:49 PM | TrackBackStriking images of the impact of the information society are on display at a Geneva exhibition commissioned to coincide with WSIS. Tales From A Globalizing World is a series of moments highlighting the variety of globalization's effects on society.
Aaron Scullion @ 01:15 AM | TrackBackStay CO2 neutral at WSIS by paying 'a voluntary tribute' to Switzerland's Climate Protection Partnership. They're suggesting that WSIS will generate 10,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide, and want every delegate to take responsibility for their own hot air...
Aaron Scullion @ 12:52 AM | TrackBackThere's no escaping WSIS - not if the summit's Community Platform fulfils its aim of helping you "take part in the WSIS from where you stay". It contains a list of the many different events taking place in Geneva, which takes some time to download, and goes some way towards demonstrating the sheer scale of this thing.
Aaron Scullion @ 12:20 AM | TrackBack
November 25, 2003Hello World Summit! This project is a rather artistic way for people to get involved with WSIS - text messages submitted will be projected almost instantly onto locations in Bombay, Geneva - where the pictures will be presented on the famous Jet d'eau - Rio and New York - while video of the projections will be broadcast to summit delegates. The artists say it's "an invitation to take control of public space".
Of course, not everybody is waiting for an invitation.
Aaron Scullion @ 01:56 AM | TrackBack
November 24, 2003On the web, Caspar Henderson, writing on OpenDemocracy's Globolog, casts an eye over the United Nations ("a starved wee critter", whose "legitimacy and competence are as questionable as its finances").
WSIS comes in for a pasting from civil society - "a step back not a step forward." And there's this great quote from William Drake (who works here): "Basically, you have a bunch of dictatorships sitting around discussing which language on freedom of expression they can agree with."
David Steven @ 06:20 PM | TrackBack
November 19, 2003In the news, the FT reports on the perilous state of the negotiations, Angola prepares for the summit, and Pakistan plans 2,000 Internet labs planned for state schools.
David Steven @ 08:06 AM
November 16, 2003Refused Entry to WSIS A row is brewing over the non-admission to WSIS of Reporters sans frontieres a civil society organization supporting reporters' rights to gather and publish information.
The Joint Caucus had already been angered by the WSIS Executive Secretariat's decision to exclude Human Rights in China - presumptively under pressure from the Chinese Government.
The official reason given for the WSIS Executive Secretariat decision on RSF is its one-year suspension from ECOSOC (resulting from incidents at a March 2003 meeting of the Commission on Human Rights) - that suspension, says the Secretariat, bars RSF from all UN gatherings including WSIS.
Countering this, the WSIS Civil Society Media and Human Rights Joint Caucus has expressed "consternation and astonishment" at a "procedurally" based decision, violating the fundamental spirit and principles of WSIS. The Caucus requested that the decision be rescinded.
Andrew Taussig @ 08:31 PMWhere's the progress? The summit is in trouble, as previously noted. Three more days of talks, designed to sort out gaping disagreements, have dribbled to a close.
By now, we shoud have something to really work with in Geneva - but instead, every time the participants get round a table, more tensions come out.
The draft paper optimistically calls for a "people-centered, inclusive"
information society - something which it wants to get from a hopelessly divided bunch.
There seem to be three main problems:
- Firstly, surprise, surprise, - money. The EU, especially Germany and the UK, and Japan are desperately against even a voluntary fund to pay for ICTs.
- Secondly, freedom of expression and human rights. China have successfully ambushed a complete paragraph on the "free flow of information" - not a good decision for the good of the world's media.
- And finally - Internet governance. China again seems to be causing more trouble than anyone else - it looked like governments would agree on just stating the need for further discussion in the declaration (a bit of a cop-out anyway), but China is blocking progress here, because Taiwan is a member of the ICANN government advisory board.
In addition the Civil Society seems to be generally brassed off with the course things are taking. They also said that terrorism legislation is now clamping down on the freedom of speech - an interesting swipe (especially at the US).
These are pretty complex issues, but Daily Summit is going to unravel them as best we can, over the next couple of posts.
Erin Dean @ 02:35 PM
November 15, 2003Getting Started - It seems that WSIS is about to get started with a handful of surprises. Daily Summit hears that there is a lot of talk about changing the venue of the second phase of the summit and holding it in Cape Town instead of Tunisia. It might be for political reasons but the second surprise is that ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is considering withdrawal from the second phase as well. Reasons given range from lack of resources and lay-offs to inability to coup with intense and broad political negotiations.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations are up against holding the second phase of WSIS in Tunisia and are lobbying for a change of venue or a change in the attitude of the Tunisian government concerning human rights.
Ahmed Reda @ 10:14 PM
November 14, 2003Painful Prepcom Governments appear still to be arguing with each other and with various civil society groups. Media professionals will be watching hopefully - and sceptically - to see if Day 5 of PREPCOM 3a produces any real progress.
Andrew Taussig @ 11:23 AM