The ten year review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes might be of significance not only for efforts to annihilate the digital divide post-2015, but also for the future of global Internet governance. Less than a year before a High Level Review Meeting, the role and possibly participation of civil society in the review process remains unclear – lip service paid by governments to the gains of multistakeholderism notwithstanding.
In the early 2000s, two World Summits on the Information Society were held: the first one in 2003, in Geneva; the second, in 2005, in Tunis. The stated goal of WSIS was ‘to achieve a common vision, desire and commitment to build a people-centric, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society where everyone can create, access, utilise and share information’. Each year since then, a WSIS Forum has been held in Geneva, to take stock of the WSIS Implementation.
The UN General Assembly is now scheduled to conduct an ‘Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes’ in 2015. The modalities of the review will be decided on by the UNGA during its session in late 2013. As part of the review process, the ITU is also organising a High-Level Event in Sharm el-Sheikh in April 2014. A first WSIS+10 Review event was organised by UNESCO in Paris, in February 2013.
The WSIS+10 Review is important for two different reasons. First, one of the overarching goals of the WSIS processes has always been to annihilate the digital divide. For those of us who are living in developing countries, the stock taking process as well as the setting of a post-2015 WSIS agenda are therefore of particular importance. But secondly, it looks like the WSIS+10 Review is also emerging as another arena in which the shape of global Internet governance processes, and in particular the role of governments in these, will be decided.
The Internet Democracy Project will keep you updated both on how the WSIS+10 Review process might affect the global Internet governance architecture and on the discussion regarding the WSIS+10 Review as such, including decisions on what a post-2015 WSIS agenda might look like.