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Joint statement from Asia Civil Society Forum participants on World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)

[DRAFT] December 13, 2002

This is a joint statement of national, regional and international NGOs participating at the 諛긯ian Civil Society Forum

Source  :  CONGO

This is a joint statement of national, regional and international NGOs participating at the 밃sian Civil Society Forum of the Conference of Non-governmental Organizations in Consultative Relations with the United Nations (CONGO).

Asia and the Pacific, a region of over half of the population of the world including the most prosperous but also a majority of the planet뭩 poor, is the seat of humanity뭩 important cultures, civilizations, religions, philosophies and languages. It is a center of global dynamism yet contrasted with gross underdevelopment. We realize that the challenge of globalization and its effects on the lives of Asian and non-Asians in the region lies in how we can transcend the divides between enabled citizens and marginalized communities, through information and communication that is based on justice, non-discrimination, gender equality and human rights.

This should be guided by, inter alia, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states 밇veryone has the rights to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Our vision is to evolve into a true communicative, just and peaceful society grounded in respect for diversity and plurality. The broad-based participation of civil society, especially from those communities which are excluded, marginalized and severely deprived, is critical in defining and building such a society.

This implies the following:
1) Giving access to and sharing information and communication technology (ICT) in all forms that will not be constrained by the barriers of literacy, language, politics, socio-cultural and economic disparities.
2) ICT should be offered with training and support, community Internet access points such as telecenters, cyber cafs, and using radios as a gateway to Internet.
3) Financial support, training, preferred access to licenses, frequencies and technologies to promote community-based media, including facilitating links between traditional media and new ones, and to bridge the digital divide between the have and the have-nots.
4) This also requires infrastructure with meaningful content, capacity-building and an enabling environment that encompasses the needs based on gender equal, inter-generational, non-discriminating criteria and targeting particularly the vulnerable groups such as persons with diverse disabilities; migrants and displaced persons, indigenous peoples; refugees and diaspora communities; rural communities; small island developing nations and post-conflict states.
5) We recommend that all stakeholders invest in capacity building focused on creation of locally-produced, audience sensitive content that responds to local needs. It should also strengthen relevant and appropriate programs focused on gender-sensitive curricula in formal and non-formal education for all and enhance communication and media literacy for women.
6) We call on governments to commit to the principles of open, transparent, decentralized and accountable governance mechanisms at all levels, from local to global and in all spheres of society, mutually related to the governance of information and communication systems.
7) We ask governments to guarantee and extend the participation of the entire society, in particular representatives from marginalized communities, indigenous peoples, women, the youth and the elderly, in the policy and decision-making processes in all sectors and levels of the 밿nformation society.
8) We call on all governments to take appropriate measures to protect the right to privacy including freedom from surveillance at all levels of information society. We are opposed to any kind of censorship imposed by the governments which restricts freedom of expression. We also urge governments to protect, promote and realize possibilities for community-based forms of communication and expressions including oral-based tradition of knowledge transfer and networks.
9) We also call on the private sector as good corporate citizens, to pay full attention to the following concerns and engage in productive dialogue with NGOs and civil society members. They include, but are not limited to,
- Balancing the Intellectual Property Right with open source and free software and content development and distribution.
- Fair and open competition in the marketplace without giving excessive dominance to the status quo
- Protect and promote the right of individuals for privacy and security, freedom of expression and communication
- Embrace and support the need of the less developed, marginalized and deprived in the area of capacity-building and human resource development
10) We welcome sincere efforts and contributions of all members of the international community, those of international organizations, donors and other NGOs involved in development activities, and call on them in true sprit of partnership, to interact on equal terms with us.
11) We commit ourselves, and call on our friends and colleagues, the NGO community and the civil society, to communicate, coordinate, and cooperate with each other more, and not tend to focus on our immediate concerns only and overlook the need to reach out and collaborate. We need to be committed to constructive and fruitful dialogue with our peers in different social sectors, respect each other despite different views and perspectives.

Finally we strongly welcome and endorse the multi-stakeholder participatory approach to the Summit and its preparatory process articulated in Resolution 56/183 by the General Assembly. Having said this however, we express some of our concerns to the preparatory process in reality. We note that the draft schedule of the Asian Regional Conference for the WSIS in Tokyo has not yet included an official program for NGOs and the civil society. We urge that the organizer should make it more open to NGOs and the civil society and guarantee participation of civil society as equal to any other stakeholders. We also like to request that the organizer commit to reflect the inputs from the NGOs and the civil society in the final document.

In conclusion we express the hope that this World Summit on the Information Society, will be all inclusive and participatory, for it is only in involving the multi-stakeholders can we overcome the adverse effects of war, social exclusion, exploitation and environmental degradation.

Drafted by:
Izumi Aizu GLOCOM Japan
Kazi Rafiqul Alam Dhaka Ahsania Mission Bangladesh
Al Alegre Foundation for Media Alternative, The Philippines
James Gomez Friedrich Naumann Foundation Singapore
Satcha Jotisalikorn Forum Asia Thailand
Jaba Menon OneWorld South Asia India
Conchiita Poncici International Federation of University Women Switzerland
Kim Jeong-woo (PatchA) Korean Progressive Network JINBONET South Korea

NOTE: The drafters worked as individuals, not as representatives of organizations they are affiliated with.
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