Press Releases

    PI/1569
                                                                                                                            31 March 2004

    Sixth Meeting of UN ICT Task Force Examines Ongoing Activities, Follow-Up to WSIS, Adopts 2004 Business Plan

    NEW YORK, 30 March (UN DPI) -- The sixth meeting of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force concluded on Saturday, 27 March, with a review of the Global Forum on Internet Governance and the adoption of the Task Force’s Business Plan for 2004.

    The first two days of the meeting, 25 and 26 March, were devoted to the Global Forum on Internet Governance. The event, which brought together more than 200 leaders from the Internet community, government, business and civil society from all over the world, was intended to contribute to the consultations for the formation of a working group on Internet governance to be established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The working group is to report to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Tunis in 2005.

    United Nations ICT Task Force Chair José María Figueres Olsen told participants that the written reports of the Forum’s five working groups, together with a report on the meeting, would be submitted to the Secretary-General “as a platform and helping tool” in setting up the working group.

    During the Forum, which was held at United Nations Headquarters, participants welcomed the open and neutral platform provided by the United Nations for all stakeholders to come together on a critical issue.  Several government and business representatives thanked the Task Force for organizing the event, and suggested work for which the Task Force would be ideally suited.

    Participants called on the Task Force to spur further dialogue on Internet governance, trying to interface among existing initiatives, and assist developing countries in making full use of the opportunities for development offered by ICT. One participant said the Task Force could be “a group where developing countries come to discuss issues and seek help in law and processes”. Others speakers said the Task Force should play a role in education and awareness-raising, and should catalogue and study all the activities and initiatives related to Internet governance.

    Summing up the discussion, Mr. Figueres Olsen said a strong need had emerged “to facilitate dialogue and to empower many of the actors that must participate in this dialogue”, including through capacity-building and financial assistance, adding that “some countries do not even have the means to attend the many forums and dialogues on Internet governance being held all over the world”.

    At its closed meeting on 27 March, participants examined the Task Force’s contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society, including follow-up to and implementation of the Geneva phase and input to preparations for the Tunis phase, and reviewed the activities of the Task Force’s Working Groups and Regional Nodes, as well as its collaboration with partner institutions like the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Boston-based Wireless Internet Institute.

    The Task Force adopted its Business Plan for 2004, whose main areas are monitoring and benchmarking progress on the application of ICT for the development goals of the World Summit on the Information Society; promoting a dialogue on Internet governance and other policy issues; encouraging governments, development agencies, international financing institutions, consumers and the private sector to create an enabling environment for the deployment of ICT; and ongoing Task Force activities, such as the Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI), the project on Wireless Internet Opportunities for Developing Nations, the Digital Diaspora Networks, and the policy awareness and training courses in ICT for United Nations diplomats. An expanded Web-based training programme for government officials in developing countries was presented to the Task Force.

    For information, please call Enrica Murmura at tel.: (212) 963 5913 or Daniela Giacomelli at tel.: (917) 367 2432; or visit www.unicttaskforce.org.

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