Canada at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

Final WSIS Assessment 2005

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28 November 2005

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Final WSIS Assessment 2005
(PPT, 38 KB, 11 pages)

Canada's Principles for WSIS, 2002

WSIS is about development

  • Promoting democratic government and governance;
  • Creating an enabling environment through appropriate policies, laws, regulations and practices;
  • Developing human capacity through education and training;
  • Increasing access to communication networks and information services;
  • Fostering the creation and preservation of local content;
  • Building new partnerships, increasing international cooperation, and promoting cross cultural dialogue; and
  • encouraging community involvement and empowerment.

Canada's Objectives for WSIS

  • Focus on mainstreaming "ICT for development" initiatives
  • Promote partnerships and inclusiveness as pillars for success in era of Information Societies — Canada's multi-stakeholder model
  • Reflect Canadian values, policies and program frameworks in WSIS outcomes
  • Promote Canadian experience, expertise and products at Summit
  • Encourage continuity, consistency with other international initiatives and Canadian goals

WSIS Outcomes:

Financing Mechanisms

  • Built on excellent work by the Task Force on Financing Mechanisms
  • No shortage of financing, the problem is access
  • Text emphasizes responsibility of each country to create an enabling environment
  • Importance of mainstreaming ICTs into National Development Strategies
  • Urges ICT-friendly policies by IFIs, donors
  • Voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund
    • 20 Members; approx. £5 million contributions to date

WSIS Outcomes:

Internet Governance 1

  • Significant international agreement on many issues:
  • Reaffirmation of Geneva principles on Internet governance:
    • The international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations [paragraph 29, Tunis Agenda]
  • Security and stability of the Internet are paramount because of its social/economic importance
  • Highlights importance of "freedom to seek, receive, impart and use information"
  • Need for international cooperation on issues such as spam, cybersecurity, privacy, protection of personal information and data
  • Gained ground on costs of international Internet connectivity
  • Turning the digital divide into digital opportunity

WSIS Outcomes:

Internet Governance 2

  • Internet Governance Forum
  • UN Secretary General to "convene" the first meeting of an Internet Governance Forum (IGF):
    • Not an oversight body, not to replace existing mechanisms
    • Mandate very close to Canadian proposal
    • Positive, development-focussed
    • To build on existing structures, provide discussion forum, coordination function
    • Lightweight, decentralized structure, subject to review
    • Meetings to be held in parallel with others where possible to take advantage of logistics, infrastructure
  • UN Secretary General to look at a range of options for IGF creation
  • Review of need to continue within five years
  • Greece to host first meeting in Athens, 2006

WSIS Outcomes:

Internet Governance 3

"A Process..."

  • UN Sec. Gen. will also begin an undefined "process towards enhanced cooperation" before the end of 1Q, 2006, involving all stakeholders, and "consistent with legal process"
  • The purpose of the process is far from clear — on purpose:
    • We are convinced that there is a need to initiate, and reinforce, as appropriate, a transparent, democratic, and multilateral process, with the participation of governments, private sector, civil society and international Organisations, in their respective roles. This process could envisage creation of a suitable framework or mechanisms, where justified, thus spurring the ongoing and active evolution of the current arrangements in order to synergise the efforts in this regard. [paragraph 61, Tunis Agenda]
  • Existing organizations should begin the process as quickly as possible and should provide annual performance reports
  • The ITU is recognized as a being a source of expertise which may be drawn upon
  • Most important for Canada: none of the critical functions of the Internet are touched

WSIS Outcomes:

Implementation and Follow-up

Builds on Geneva Plan of Action

  • Emphasizes need for partnerships, activity at all levels (international, regional, national, local)
  • Identifies toolkit of 20 approaches for achieving the targets from Geneva Phase. Key elements from Canada include:
    • Mainstreaming national e-strategies and ICTs; developing enabling policy frameworks, policy capacity; confidence and use; universal design and assistive technologies; youth; community-based development; inclusion of volunteers
  • Recognition of Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development (IC) and promotion of further development (new indicators, capacity building)
  • Recognition of StatsCan/Orbicom/ITU ICT Development Index, launch of next phase
  • Welcomes Connect the World
  • Follow-up at the International level based in UN system, but with expanded role for civil society and private sector. Global Alliance still being discussed.
  • Indicative list of facilitators for each of 11 Action lines (based on Canadian position at PrepCom 1)

But WSIS was not just about the text...

Canadian pavilion:

  • IDRC, Industry Canada, CePRC, StatsCan, CIDA

Canadian participation/announcements:

  • ePol-NET partnerships negotiated and launched on: community access; e-trade; ICT indicators
  • launch (IDRC & Microsoft)
  • Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development: 2 publications launched
  • Orbicom: 2 publications launched
  • Indigenous Peoples' Event — 6 Canadian aboriginal youth
  • World Summit Awards: 4+ Canadian winners
    • e-government; e-health; e-inclusion; e-learning + African youth award
  • Numerous Canadian speakers in 250 side events

Canadian Statement:

  • Senator Mac Harb

Overall assessment

Canada made a significant and positive difference:

  • Set the agenda early, followed up with hard work, consistent representation, solution-oriented approach
  • A major contributor of financial and human resources
  • Played leadership role, particularly on Internet governance, but also implementation and follow-up, human rights, freedom of expression
  • Promoted the Canadian model in negotiations and in partnership events

And the rest of the world...

  • Tunisia seen as overwhelming success — 23,000 attendees
  • Developing countries satisfied
  • ICT4D emphasis in many ways became secondary to political agendas

Next steps

Implementation and Follow-up:

  • Framework is laid for Canadian agencies, NGOs and businesses to play a full role in implementation

Internet Governance

  • Need to continue work to ensure that Internet Governance Forum, and "The Process" stay within bounds of Tunis agreement
  • Need to work closely with partners


  • Play strong role in upcoming World Telecom Development Conference, Plenipot to ensure ITU plays a positive and appropriate role in WSIS follow-up
  • Continuing efforts to ensure ITU role in follow-up is appropriate, consistent with core mandate