British Council The Daily Summit. News, views and links live from the World Summit on the Information Society World Summit on the Information Society
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December 14, 2003

Saddam Hussein. Information Technology has played a vital role in spreading the news across the globe of the arrest of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The press conference held in Baghdad was beamed across the world live, showing pictures of the captured leader. The news has spread like wildfire - and so has reaction to the news. Less than 2 hours since the confirmation from Paul Bremer, the BBC World Service Talking Point programme was broadcasting live emails and phone calls from people all over the world - ranging from Malaysia, Iran, the UK, Uganda and Iraq.
Cara Swift @ 03:59 PM | Comment (23) | TrackBack (0)

December 12, 2003

Future, Bright. Wear Shades. The Tunisian Foreign Minister Mr Habib Ben Yahia told the Daily Summit that he is "fully optimistic" about the second phase of WSIS to be held in his country in November 2005.

It would, he promised, be the "crowning of this process". More
Cara Swift @ 01:51 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2003

Nothing much to say from the USA. There weren't even any protests as they had their say at the plenary session. Rumours were circulating the corridors of the media centre that John Marburger, George Bush's science and technical adviser, would be interrupted by campaigners. Many here are left disappointed by the lack of incident - even those in the room who continued talking during his speech. More
Cara Swift @ 04:20 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)
Access denied - we have photgraphic evidence of Iranian censorship of the net.

(Other Iran coverage, here, here, here and don't forget to tell us what you want us to ask Iran's President. And we think you'll be able to watch the press conference here).
Cara Swift @ 03:42 PM | Comment (1) | TrackBack (0)
Ugandan girl pleads for education. 15 year old Atwiine Cairo, representing the Girls' Education Movement , has confidently told why girls drop out of school in her country.

"Poor parents cannot afford the school materials, and the girls sometimes need to support the family." She added that girls can be sexually harassed at schools.

A brave individual is something of a rarity amongst the plethora of NGOs and government delegations here in Geneva... More
Cara Swift @ 01:27 PM | Comment (4) | TrackBack (0)
Girls Girls Girls, need education, education, education. That's the message from Carol Bellamy, UNICEF's executive eirector , launching their "State of the World's Children report 2004". She said the "leadweight holding back the progress of their own nations" is the sad reality is that 120 million children each year never see the inside of a classroom - and the majority of them are girls.

She also pointed out what a lot of people at WSIS seem to ignore - "ICTs cannot change people's lives if they can't read".
Cara Swift @ 01:19 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)
Don't Dump, is the message from Computer Aid International, which refurbishes unwanted computers and sends them from the UK to the developing world.

Tony Roberts, the charity's CEO, told Daily Summit that, this year, they have sent 12,000 computers to schools, women's groups and non-political organisations, mainly in Africa and Latin America. More
Cara Swift @ 12:56 PM | Comment (6) | TrackBack (0)
Ask the Iranian Government. Our post about Iranian censorship on the internet has created lots of discussion and comment. Later on Thursday in Geneva, Iran's President Mr Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to give a news conference.

We'll be there on the front row so please, use the comments box and send us the questions YOU would like us to put to him.
Cara Swift @ 11:49 AM | Comment (59) | TrackBack (0)

December 10, 2003

Mugabe speaks to WSIS. We live in a false and failed information society, where ICT's are used to impose global hegemony and dominance on the part of rich nations of the North, the Zimbabwean President has just told WSIS, in an impassioned speech.

Introduced by the red-haired, female President of Latvia, wearing a striking green suit, Mugabe clearly had his recent battles with the Commonwealth uppermost in his mind. More
Cara Swift @ 05:58 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)
Countdown to Mugabe. Mugabe will speak in just 15 minutes. And the media is clearly excited. Chairs had emptied as the Presidents of Latvia, Cape Verde, and Gabon gave their speeches. But people are filtering back into the room slowly but surely.

Daily Summit has stayed the course and will bring you news of what Mugabe has to say - as he says it.
Cara Swift @ 05:06 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rules of the game. The opening session is over - and so begins the first plenary session, where government representatives have 5 minutes to have their say.

On their screens they have a succession of coloured lights to let them know when their time is up. It was also explained that a different set of lights would work for observers (they only get three minutes.) The rules are spelt out very clearly - as if it matters... More
Cara Swift @ 03:34 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (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. More
Cara Swift @ 12:49 PM | Comment (0)
US pledges millions at WSIS. The economic development agency of the US government, OPIC, has announced a $400 million finance facility in the telecommunications and IT sectors of 152 countries - this is on top of $5 billion of total support already spent. But this will be a private-public mechanism - NOT part of a digital solidarity fund.

The Daily Summit asked OPIC President Dr Peter Watson if support was dependent on a country's record on human rights. "We always respect international labour standards, environment and human rights as a condition to all of our projects" he said. So, we asked about Iran, which censors the internet. "We are not currently authorised to do business in Iran. Out of 152 countries, Iran is not one of them".
Cara Swift @ 10:33 AM | Comment (0)

December 09, 2003

Furrer solution or final solution? We reported that the Swiss government's information chief Marc Furrer had hammered out a compromise on the digital solidarity fund - based on Western leaders agreeing to look into the idea.

But the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade has just been laying on the line here at WSIS his view - the fund must be more than looked into, it must happen. He's asking for more clarification from sceptical countries who want to emphasise existing mechanisms, and wants a defninition of what these are, and what they are achieving.
Cara Swift @ 06:45 PM | Comment (0)
Kofi 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. More
Cara Swift @ 06:00 PM | Comment (0)
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 | Comment (1)
Last minute agreement. Further to our earlier post, Marc Furrer, Swiss Secretary of State for WSIS, has just arrived, with PrepCom President Adama Samassekou - the latter resplendent in a blue turquoise robe. Mr Furrer apologised for his tardiness and for not having a copy of the draft text - so fresh is the ink on the new agreement.,

Key revelation - Mr Furrer said that the developed nations have agreed "at least to look into" the possibility of a global fund. Meanwhile the developing nations will each proceed with their various funds organised on a regional basis.
Cara Swift @ 01:26 PM | Comment (0)
ITU Sec-Gen speaks. Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary General of the ITU, has been talking to the media. He's insisted that he wants to turn the Draft Declaration of Principles into a reality, and announced that the final agreement on the last contentious pre-summit issue - the digital solidarity fund - "is to be made very soon - so this summit will not be so disastrous". More
Cara Swift @ 12:53 PM | Comment (3)

December 08, 2003

Iranian censorship? Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, now based in Canada, reports that access to Google's cache has been blocked by Iran's biggest ISP - a way of stopping Iranians getting at Google's copy of sites that censors are preventing them from seeing.

Daily Summit asked an Iranian resident to try out the Google cache from a couple of ISPs (though not the one Hossein mentions). They were serving cached pages with no problem - but we'd be interested to know what you are finding if you're surfing from Iran... More
Cara Swift @ 04:30 PM | Comment (295)
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 | Comment (0)

December 07, 2003

Agreement Reached? Reuters have reported that the path has been cleared for an agreement to be reached at WSIS - well almost. The spokesman for Marc Furrer, the senior Swiss government official who chaired the meeting told Daily Summit how they steered the delegates around the stumbling blocks. More
Cara Swift @ 03:10 PM | Comment (0) | TrackBack (0)
Indigenous Tribes. Further to Erin's entry, there will also be representatives from the world's indigenous communities at the summit. More
Cara Swift @ 12:32 PM | Comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2003

Radio ga-ga. Talk on WSIS tends to focus on the benefits of the internet, but some feel that the importance of radio - which remains a vital source of communication and information - is being overshadowed. Daily Summit has been speaking to some of the organisations working to have radio's role pushed harder at the summit. More
Cara Swift @ 09:53 AM | Comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

December 01, 2003

Teach your Granny. Young people are going to get the older generation online - at least, that's what BT hopes! They've launched a campaign, Internet Rangers, in the hope of tackling digital exclusion. According to BT, "one third of parents and grandparents have been encouraged to surf the internet by a teenager".
Cara Swift @ 06:10 PM | | TrackBack (0)
Private or Public? The idea of putting the internet under UN control continues to be resisted by the United States (more here).

Ambassador David Gross will be leading the US delegation at the summit and, in an interview with, he said "We will continue to fight hard to ensure that the Internet remains a balanced enterprise among all stakeholders - one of these stakeholders is government, but it is one of many stakeholders," adding that "it must be private sector-led. That is very important to us."
Cara Swift @ 09:24 AM | | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2003

Women of Africa could play a huge role in the information society if they had the resources and skills at their fingertips. This article by Ngathie Diop looks at the success of the Internet for women in Senegal. Not only does the Internet provide women there with information on numerous issues relating to their daily lives, but is has also created jobs for them - around 35% of cyber cafes and telecentres there are now successfully owned by women. The role of African women will be one of the many issues put forward at the summit by the African Civil Society Caucus.
Cara Swift @ 07:30 AM | | TrackBack (0)
Children of the Digital Revolution. There will be a Youth Pressure caucus at WSIS - they believe that young people - not technology - are "the world's largest untapped resource in creating an information society". It's obviously vital for young people to be trained in IT if digital knowlege is to grow - take a look at all of the issues from the youth caucus.
Cara Swift @ 07:11 AM | | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2003

The Sri Lanka government has started an ambitious e-Sri Lanka programme to highlight the issues to be raised at the World Summit on Information Technology. The five year pilot scheme is the island's first attempt to bring together all government institutions through networking and once fully implemented it is the man on the street who will benefit. The project will even allow fishermen to get weather forecasts!
Cara Swift @ 01:40 PM |
India's government is under pressure to bridge the digital divide in the country. Despite increasing investments in IT infrastructure the gap is still widening, according to a group of NGOs. The government is sending a sizeable delegation to WSIS in Geneva, but the director of OneWorld South Asia says there has been no dialogue between the government and people's organisations on ICT strategies and policies.
Cara Swift @ 01:39 PM |
Conflict Women. The internet is being used as a tool to help track the impact of armed conflict on women, and women's roles in peace-building. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched a web portal with information on women in conflict zones. Three years since a UN Security Council resolution called for prosecution of crimes against women and increased protection of women and children during war, UNIFEM says information is still scarce and scattered.
Cara Swift @ 01:37 PM | | TrackBack (0)
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