World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS): Human Rights Must Be Central to Information Society


News Release

MONTREAL, December 4, 2003 – As governments, businesses and civil society organisations prepare for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will take place on December 10-12 in Geneva, Rights & Democracy is adding its voice to those calling to make human rights the central platform of the information society.

Rights & Democracy launched a booklet on the WSIS and Human Rights at the inter-governmental preparatory meeting that took place in Geneva in September of this year. Several hundred copies of Pole Star: Human Rights in the Information Society by Deborah Hurley have been distributed to WSIS delegates and Rights & Democracy has been an active member of the Human Rights Caucus throughout the preparatory process.

Rights & Democracy is also working with the Human Rights Caucus and the Communication Rights in the Information Society Campaign to organize a session on human rights on December 11. With well-known speakers from Tunisian and Chinese human rights organizations, in addition to keynote speaker Aminata Traor?, the session promises to present an excellent overview of some of the most contentious issues of the Summit. The programme can be found on the following website www.communicationrights.org/programme.html.

While the WSIS offered an extraordinary opportunity to develop a common vision and action plan for the Information Society, this opportunity has been scuttled by governments who are more interested in controlling access to information than in giving their citizens voice and access to the technologies that would amplify them. This has meant that even modest language on human rights in the draft declaration and plan of action is still contested. The conflicts are expected to be worked out at a last minute emergency meeting on December 5-6 to be held just before the Summit in Geneva.

Rights & Democracy will be represented at the Summit by Diana Bronson, who coordinates Right & Democracy’s work on globalisation and human rights. She will be available to media through email or by phone from December 7 to 13th in Geneva (cell 079 296 4782).