Comparing the WSIS10 Draft Outcome Document with the Joint Civil Society comments on the Zero-Draft

by Rajat Rai Handa

The draft outcome document for the WSIS+10 Review was recently made available, which will form the basis for textual negotiations during the informal consultations that are scheduled to take place in November-end preceeding the December High-Level Meeting of the UNGA on the WSIS+10 Review. We compared the draft outcome document with the joint civil society submission on the zero-draft to understand what all concerns of the global civil society groups have been addressed and what all concerns remain going forward.

Based on previous inputs and comments from all relevant stakeholders, the co-facilitators prepared this draft, believing that a large number of the paragraphs in the document represent consensus positions, while also highlighting that several sections would need careful consideration, notably Enhanced cooperation, Building confidence and security in lCTs, and Follow-up and review. They have also encouraged all delegations to be ready to discuss language in detail and finalise the text during the informal consultations.

We, at the Internet Democracy Project, have provided inputs and submitted comments throughout the WSIS+10 Review process. From our preliminary submissions that informed the content and elements of a non-paper, to comments on that non-paper itself in the form of specific text proposals that subsequently led to the development of a zero-draft, on which we also submitted comments.

We had also joined in on a submission by a diverse number of global civil society groups that participated in the Civil Society Coordination Event preceding the Second Informal Stakeholders Consultation and the Second Preparatory Meeting of the WSIS+10 Review.

Now, in order to take stock of how the draft outcome document has evolved since the previous stage, we comparatively analyzed it with the joint civil society submission on the zero-draft. We were glad to see that the draft outcome document has incorporated some of the concerns pointed out in the joint civil society submission. Our recommendations to place standalone sections on Human Rights and Cybersecurity were incorporated along with several changes in the language we had suggested to emphasize and acknowledge the full scope and the complex and changing nature of the issues at hand. In particular, our recommendations, to recognise the importance of culture to development in the section on ICT for Development and, to recognise the significant possibilities for ensuring connectivity, particularly in rural and underserved areas in the section on Financing Mechanisms, were also incorporated in the draft outcome document. The comparative analysis can be found in full here.

Though the draft outcome document has come a long way since the non-paper, it still needs to address some outstanding concerns that have been pointed out since the beginning of the WSIS+10 Review process by several stakeholders, particularly with regards to some issues in the sections on Human Rights in the Information Society, and Building Confidence and Security in the use of ICTs.