Second WSIS+10 Review: Multistakeholder negotiations again successful -- Freedom of Expression at the heart of the negotiations

The UNESCO facilitated Media Action Line on the freedom of expression, the independence, pluralism and diversity of media, on gender equality and safety of journalists were at the heart of the extended negotiation efforts.

UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Mr Getachew Engida, as a co-organizer of the second WSIS+10 Review event hosted by ITU from 10-13 June 2014, provided participants of the High-level Event with a new, final, UNESCO proposed compromise text on the Media Action Line. After long negotiations, the UNESCO proposed text was finally accepted without amendment and therefore all Action Line texts could be adopted together with the statement and vision texts, by the plenary by consensus. The endorsed text can be accessed here. The Deputy Director-General laid out UNESCO’s inclusive Knowledge Societies vision, highlighted the results of the first WSIS+10 Event hosted by UNESCO in February 2013, and stressed: “We need both technologies and the capacities to use them. Alone, technology is not enough. To empower, it must be married with skills, local content and opportunities for all. “

At the High-level United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) meeting, UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General (DDG); the Heads of Agencies of ITU, UNCTAD, UPU, WMO and other high-level UN representatives, renewed their commitment to collaborate closely on using technologies for reaching current and future development goals. The DDG highlighted key achievements, challenges and outlined a way forward, highlighting that “UNGIS must continue to be strengthened.”   The high-level leads were translated into a concrete workplan at the UNGIS working level meeting later in the week.

Some 40 Ministers joined the Ministerial Roundtable, which Mr Engida, UNESCO’s DDG, opened with Mr. Touré, ITU’s SG. On the Post-2015 discussions, the Deputy Director-General stressed: “Our tasks today are clear -- we must focus where needs are greatest, we must help countries accelerate towards 2015, and we must shape a new agenda to follow, building on achievements and tackling new challenges, particularly in for the six WSIS Action Lines UNESCO is facilitating. We must also learn the lessons of experience – and a core lesson is certainly that ‘one size does not fit all.’ “ The ministerial roundtable reaffirmed the importance of linking the post-2015 development agenda process to the WSIS review process. Between the high-level officials, there were also straight forward discussions on the roles different International Organizations might or might not play in the multistakeholder context of Internet Governance.

UNESCO organized the High-level Dialogue on “Inclusive Knowledge Societies: Reality, vision and how to get there…” with the participation of H.E. Mr. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Mr. Adama Samassékou, President of the Geneva WSIS phase, President Maaya, Mr. John E. Davies, Vice-President, Intel, Ms. Grace Githaiga, Associate of KICTANet, Dr. Salma Abbasi, CEO of e-Worldwide Group and Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, UNESCO. At this session, the eminent panellists discussed latest Knowledge Societies trends and developments. The session was moderated by Mr Andrew Taussig, International Institute of Communications.

Panellists and participants discussed key dimensions of an enabling environment for inclusive knowledge societies, contributing with concrete examples and ideas to the debate.

UNESCO used the WSIS+10 Review multistakeholder context to present and discuss its comprehensive study on Internet related issues that is currently under preparation.

Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, updated participants on the latest study version and outlined the next steps. He pointed out that “this study will generate ground-breaking research in the area of access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy and the ethical dimensions of the information society.” Mr Banerjee invited interested participants to read the study that is available at:  www.unesco.org/new/internetstudy and to provide feedback by email to: Internetstudy(at)unesco.org.

UNESCO also organized Action Line meetings covering the six domains under its facilitation:  Access to information and knowledge, the ethical dimension of the Information Society, media, e-science, e-learning and cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content (please click on the links to see the webcasts, access session descriptions and reports).

UNESCO also contributed to sessions organized by other partners: Mr Banerjee was a panelist on the Egypt 10 Years After… country workshop, Mr Wachholz presented UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme, and its work in the fields of multilingualism and local content in the Digital Content for inclusive knowledge society workshop.

In conclusion, the host, ITU, was congratulated on the excellent organization of the second WSIS+10 Event. The co-organizers ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP are fully satisfied with the outcomes, which add to the UNESCO hosted WSIS+10 Review another set of stakeholder developed and endorsed documents as a contribution to the overall WSIS+10 Review at the UNGA in 2015.