BASIS submission for the UNGA WSIS Zero Draft
General Assembly’s overall review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes (Official Form for Comments on the zero-draft)
This document is the response of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its initiative Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) to the WSIS +10 zero draft, sharing the perspective of the global business community.
1. ICT for Development
We affirm and support the recognition of the valuable contribution of ICTs while also stressing the imperative of enabling the unrealised potential of ICTs to move society towards the sustainable development goals.
We propose adding the following text to the end of paragraph 11: We also recognise that ICT will continue to evolve and that it is important to continue to enable and encourage the continued pace of technology innovation to preserve the progress cited.
For paragraph 14, we propose the text to be edited to read as follows: We also recognize that ICT is contributing to higher levels of social benefit and inclusion, providing new channels among citizens, businesses and governments to share and augment knowledge, as well as participate in decisions that affect their lives and work. As envisioned by the WSIS Action Lines, we have seen ICT-enabled breakthroughs in e-government, e-business, e-education, e-health, e-employment, e-agriculture and e-science, allowing greater numbers of people access to services and data that might previously have been out-of-reach or unaffordable. Similarly the potential improvements in medical research from new uses of information across the developed and the developing world show great promise. We have also seen ICT become central to disaster and humanitarian response. At the same time, we recognize that ICT is fundamentally altering the way individuals and communities interact and spend their time.
1.1 Bridging the Digital Divide
We applaud the recognition of the inter- and intra-country divides to be addressed.
For paragraph 16 we suggest highlighting the importance of content that local communities find relevant. As a significant amount of content citizens of emerging countries will find relevant is content not yet online or created, attention should not only be brought to the number of language translations of existing content that has been made available. Measuring and reporting the number of people who do not see the value in an Internet connection as content is not relevant to their lives would be useful in understanding where and how to address this.
We suggest paragraph 18 include the following text: We recognise that greater availability of relevant local content and services in different languages and formats that are accessible to all people, who also need the capabilities and capacities, including media and information literacy skills to make use of ICTs, will increase the value of ICTs and help close digital divides.
We suggest a correction for paragraph 19 as it inaccurately notes the Connect 2020 Agenda as being agreed by the ‘international community’ when it was more precisely something agreed to by ‘member states of the ITU’.
1.2 Enabling Environment
We propose the words ‘allowance of’ public-private partnerships be replaced by encouragement of public-private partnerships in paragraph 22 and that the final sentence of paragraph 23 be amended to read as follows: Deliberate efforts, including through research and development, policy approaches and mechanisms that encourage development and deployment of such technologies, may be necessary to spur lower-cost connectivity options.
For paragraph 24 we propose it be clarified to read as follows: We request the UN agencies within their current missions to regularly advise governments and all stakeholders of specific, detailed interventions they can make to support the enabling environment for ICT and development.
1.3 Financial Mechanisms
We suggest the following language revisions to paragraphs 28 and 29:
28. We recognise that official development assistance and other concessional financial flows for ICT can make significant contributions to development outcomes, particularly where it can de-risk public and private investment, as well as use ICT to strengthen tax collection as a result of growth of local economy. We encourage greater input of developing countries on the deployment of funds for ICT.
29. We also encourage a prominent profile for ICT in the new technology facilitation mechanism established by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and for assessment of how it can contribute to fill the gaps in implementation of the WSIS Action Lines and support the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
As noted before, in “Implementing WSIS Outcomes: A ten-year review”, the Digital Solidarity Fund Foundation was dissolved by its Board in 2009. Taking this development as the effective cessation of this funding mechanism, we advise to strike paragraph 30 and rather look ahead to the alternative opportunities raised by the outcomes of the Addis Ababa negotiations. However, if this cannot be agreed we suggest that the paragraph include: we call for a review of its mechanisms as well as options for its future.
2. Internet Governance
We applaud the recognition of the Geneva principles and Tunis agenda as the on-going basis for Internet governance and believe the stable, secure and inclusive development of the Internet and all that has been achieved because of it has been made possible because of adherence to this vision.
There are multiple places where stakeholders are working through complex issues and many of them take time to develop a common understanding both of the idea and the implication. We believe this remains to be the case for the issue of network neutrality and that paragraph 35 cuts off this debate too early. As written it only captures a narrow network perspective and misses taking into account the vast differences in understanding of this idea. It also presents challenges given the many diverse national approaches to the issue. It is an example of a question better suited to environments where discussions between all stakeholders advance understanding and perspectives can be fully aired before policies are put in place that have a host of unintended consequences and may enforce one value to sacrifice another.
2.1. Enhanced Cooperation
We reiterate there have been many examples of enhanced cooperation on a range of Internet governance issues catalogued by the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation under UNCTAD and this approach where governments and stakeholders are working together to identify, understand and address important and emerging Internet governance topics leveraging their respective expertise, roles and responsibilities should serve as the basis for continued cooperation aiming at the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).
2.3 Building Confidence and Security in the use of ICTs
We offer the following edits for paragraph 45: Strengthening confidence and security in the use of ICT is an important aspect of the development of information societies and ICT success as a driver for sustainable economic growth and social innovation.
We suggest paragraph 46 be amended as follows: We acknowledge the work that governments, businesses and other stakeholders are undertaking, through a wide variety of initiatives, to strengthen cybersecurity, noting among the work of intergovernmental activities: the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Expert Group on Cybercrime.
3. Implementation and Follow-Up
We call for the continuation of the important roles set out by the various annual review by the CSTD of the WSIS outcomes, and for an overall review of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes through to 2030. We stress that all reviews of the WSIS should be done in an open and inclusive manner with the multistakeholder community to ensure the full breadth of understanding and perspectives. We call for coordination of reporting on ICT for development within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We suggest paragraph 57 read: We call for a multistakeholder review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes in a timeframe that would permit its conclusions to feed into the review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We propose that paragraph 58 be deleted as a further high level meeting or summit would not be necessary before the review process outlined in paragraph 57.
ICC BASIS appreciates the opportunity to contribute its views to the WSIS Review and commends the efforts of the UN General Assembly President and co-facilitators for openly engaging with the stakeholders. We remain committed to working with the UN General Assembly along with the community of stakeholders to ensure that the review process culminates in an endorsement of our collective path and recognition that we will only get further along to realising our shared goals and the full benefits of an Information society for all if we continue openly listening to understand better and cooperatively to implement better and more legitimately