Building peace in the minds of men and women

Internet Governance Glossary - 5. Development and socio-cultural dimension

5.1 Information society

Society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information using information and communication technology (ICT) is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity.

5.2 Knowledge societies

Societies having capabilities to identify, produce, process, transform, disseminate and use information to build and apply knowledge for human development (UNESCO).


Knowledge societies require an empowering social vision that encompasses plurality, inclusion, solidarity and participation.

Communiqué of the Ministerial Round Table “Towards Knowledge Societies”, organized during the 32nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO, Paris, 9–10 October 2003 (document 32 C/INF. 26, para. 3), 

5.3 Millennium Development Goals / MDG

Eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration to achieve the goals by 2015.


The Internet as well as the concept of the information society have at least indirectly a great impact on any of the eight MDGs, namely:

  • To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • To achieve universal primary education
  • To promote gender equality and empowering women
  • To reduce child mortality rates
  • To improve maternal health
  • To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • To ensure environmental sustainability
  • To develop a global partnership for development.

All 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are 193 currently) and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the MDGs.

5.4 Global regulation of intellectual property rights / Global regulation of IPRs

International laws and their implementation concerning intellectual property rights (IPR), and in particular copyright and related rights especially in connection with the emerging content industries using the Internet.


The global regulation of IPRs directly affects development, because of the reduced opportunity of developing countries to access knowledge and information online. International conventions/agreements/treaties related to IPRs, such as the Berne Convention, the TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO Copyright Treaty are obligatorily observed by the signatory countries. However, they are implemented at national level into national law. That is why differences exist between countries with respect to the implementation and jurisdiction of IPR-related international law.

5.5 Digital divide

Differences between countries with different levels of information and communication technology (ICT) development.


The digital divide exists not only for technical reasons, but also for political, social, or economic reasons at different levels and for an array of aspects, such as:

  • within countries and between countries,
  • between rural and urban populations,
  • between the old and the young,
  • between men and women.

It refers to a “gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access information and communication technologies (ICTs) and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities”. (OECD 2001)

5.6 Enabling environment

Trustworthy, transparent and non-discriminatory legal, regulatory and policy environment created by governments to maximize the social, economic and environmental benefits of the information society.


To create an enabling environment is a demanding task, entailing among others the gradual de-monopolisation of the telecommunication market, the introduction of Internet law (covering copyright, privacy, eCommerce, etc.), and the granting of universal access without political, religious, or other restrictions.

5.7 Capacity building

Policy measures to manage transformations and change concerning all aspects of the Internet and the information society by individuals, organizations and society at large with the aim to reach their own goals over time in a sustainable way.


The need for capacity building in the field of Internet governance and policy was recognised as one of the priorities for the WSIS Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. Capacity building may comprise:

  • human resource development (i.e. the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively),
  • organizational development (i.e. the elaboration of management structures, processes and procedures, not only within organizations but also within the management of relationships between the different stakeholders: public, private and community),
  • institutional and legal framework development (making legal and regulatory changes to enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities).
5.8 Gender equality and the empowerment of women

“Refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys … /implying/ that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration – recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men


“Equality between women and men is seen both as a fundamental human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centred development.”
fundamental human right enshrined in the UN Charter and one of the main objectives of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), refers to using the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide new digital opportunities to end discrimination, and to empower women and girls to participate fully in society.

5.9 Protection of the cultural heritage

Protection of tangible cultural properties and cultural intangibles threatened by cultural influences from other cultures, lack of sustainability of digitization, or exploitation by foreign commercial interests.


As the cultural heritage is a crucial component of identity and self-understanding of individuals that links a community to its past, the preservation of cultural tangibles and intangibles through digitisation is one of the main goals of the protection of the cultural heritage. In addition to grass root organisations and many civil society activities, it is first of all the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which endeavours to organize support for the preservation and protection of the heritage of nations for the future.

5.10 Cultural and linguistic diversity

Policy measures to guarantee that every cultural and linguistic community can be represented in the Internet under all its dimensions: governance, infrastructure, economic, legal and socio-cultural.


Multilingualism is a key concept in terms of ensuring cultural diversity and participation for all linguistic groups in cyberspace. The promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity requires among others:

  • Stimulating respect for cultural identity, traditions and religions,
  • Appropriate governance frameworks,
  • Development language technologies, including machine translation and automatic interpretation.
5.11 eAccessibility

‘Ease of use of information and communication technology (ICT), such as the Internet, by persons with disabilities (PwD)’ [WHO 2012].


Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. Web accessibility is one of the major aspect of eAccessibility, for which the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as international standard. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN/CRPD) of 2008 draws attention to the need to ensure access to ICTs for PwD on an equal basis with others and helps to eliminate barriers to information, especially through the Internet.

5.12 eInclusion

Participation of all individuals and communities in all aspects of the information society supported by inclusive information and communication technology (ICT) in daily life, at work, in day-to-day relationships, in dealing with public services as well as in culture, entertainment, leisure and when participating in community and political dialogues.


eInclusion means both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives, especially for minorities disadvantaged in some way or other.

5.13 Digital preservation

Process aimed at ensuring the continued accessibility of digital materials. Digital preservation involves finding ways to re-present what was originally presented to users by a combination of software and hardware tools acting on data.

5.14 Sustainable development goals

A new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years.