Director-General Matsuura called a meeting of the Intersectoral Task Force on UNESCO’s contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on 8 February 2005. The second phase of the summit is scheduled in Tunisia from 16 to 18 November 2005.
After the first phase of WSIS, Geneva, 10-12 December 2003, which examined a broad range of issues related to the information society and produced a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action, this second phase is designated to focus on the actual implementation of the decided upon Action Plan in Geneva. To this end, several regional and thematic meetings and working groups have been organized on the major themes of Internet governance and funding mechanisms. UNESCO has participated in all the preparatory meetings of the summit (Prepcom) and, as an observer, in the working group on Internet governance, which is addressing issues that are at the heart of its action such as freedom of expression, cultural diversity, universal access and equal access to education.
The meeting reviewed the calendar of upcoming thematic meetings organized by UNESCO which will be held: next May in Mali on the theme of multilingualism; at the Organization’s Headquarters on capacity building; and in the Russian Federation on cultural diversity: Mr Matsuura highlighted the importance of these meetings of which the outcomes “will substantially support the entire preparation process of the Tunisia Summit, as well as its conclusions.” These meetings should be an opportunity for UNESCO to “bring to life at all levels of implementation of the Geneva Action Plan, the essential idea promoted by UNESCO of the Information Society as a conduit of integration. In each of our fields of competence, we should ensure that this concept takes on concrete forms. It is for this reason, in the preparation of UNESCO’s contribution to the summit, intersectorality should be privileged,” he stated. For the Director-General, this concept should also be the central focus of special events organized by UNESCO on the fringe of the Tunisia Summit, and in particular the High Level round table.
Mr Matsuura also underscored the importance for UNESCO of continuing its special dialogue on these issues with its Member States, civil society and the media. He then recalled the important contribution to the debate to be made by UNESCO’s World Report on Knowledge Societies which will be launched in autumn of 2005. The Director-General also highlighted the significance of keeping UNESCO’s Member States regularly informed of progress on the preparation of the Summit and UNESCO’s contribution. He announced his intention to organize an information meeting before the summer on the topic.
In closing, Mr Matsuura insisted that UNESCO’s role was not limited to its involvement in the Summit proper, but that the Organization should be ready to assume its responsibility in the implementation and follow-up on the decisions taken in both Geneva and Tunisia. Out of 11 lines of action, 6 were within UNESCO’s fields of competence, he pointed out.