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Civil Society Essential Benchmarks for WSIS
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The essential benchmarks listed in this document reflect work in progress by the
 
civil society content and themes group of the WSIS process. While there is
 
consensus on the priorities stated here this document does not represent absolute
 
consensus, nor does the order of the essential benchmarks constitute a strict
 
ranking in order of importance. For more information on the WSIS CS CT group,
 
contact: Sally Burch, <sburch@alainet.org>
 
 
 
 
 
1.      Introduction
 
 
 
The approach to the "Information Society" on which the WSIS has been based reflects,
 
to a large extent, a narrow understanding in which ICTs means telecommunications and
 
the Internet. This approach has marginalised key issues relating to the development
 
potential inherent in the combination of knowledge and technology and thus conflicts
 
with the broader development mandate given in UNGA Resolution 56/183.
 
 
 
Civil society is committed to a people-centred, inclusive approach based on respect
 
for human rights principles and development priorities. We believe these principles
 
and priorities should be embedded throughout the WSIS Declaration of Principles and
 
Action Plan. This paper sets out the benchmarks against which civil society will
 
assess the outcomes of the WSIS process and the commitment of all stakeholders to
 
achieving its mandate.
 
 
 
2.      Human rights
 
 
 
The WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action, should take as their
 
foundations the international human rights framework. This implies the full
 
integration, concrete application and enforcement of civil, political, economic,
 
social and cultural rights, including labour rights, the right to development, as
 
well as the principle of non-discrimination. The universality, indivisibility,
 
interrelatedness and interdependence of all human rights should be clearly
 
recognized, together with their centrality to democracy and the rule of law.
 
 
 
All Principles of the Declaration and all activities in the Action Plan, should be
 
in full compliance with international human rights standards, which should prevail
 
*ver national legislative frameworks. The "information society" must not result in
 
any discrimination or deprivation of human rights resulting from the acts or
 
*missions of governments or of non-state actors under their jurisdictions. Any
 
restriction on the use of ICTs must pursue a legitimate aim under international law,
 
be prescribed by law, be strictly proportionate to such an aim, and be necessary in
 
a democratic society.
 
 
 
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is of fundamental and
 
specific importance to the information society, requiring that everyone has the
 
right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to seek, receive and impart
 
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
 
 
 
3.      Poverty reduction and the Right to Development
 
 
 
Given the unequal distribution of wealth among and within nations, the struggle
 
against poverty should be the top priority on the agenda of the World Summit on the
 
Information Society.  It is not possible to achieve sustainable development by
 
embracing new communication technologies without challenging existing inequalities.
 
 
 
Civil society organisations from different parts of the world unite in their call to
 
governments to take this matter very seriously.  We want to emphasise that
 
challenging poverty requires more than setting of 'development agendas'. It requires
 
the commitment of significant financial and other resources, linked with social and
 
digital solidarity, channeled through existing and new financing mechanisms that are
 
managed transparently and inclusively of all sectors of society.
 
 
 
4.      Sustainable development
 
 
 
An equitable Information Society must be shaped by the needs of people and
 
communities and based on sustainable economic, social development and democratic
 
principles, including the Millennium Development Goals.
 
 
 
Only development that embraces the principles of social justice and gender equality
 
can be said to centrally address fundamental social, cultural and economic divides.
 
Market-based development solutions often fail to address more deep-rooted and
 
persistent inequalities in and between countries of the North and South.
 
 
 
Democratic and sustainable development of in the information society can therefore
 
not be left solely to market forces and the propagation of technology. In order to
 
balance commercial objectives with legitimate social interests, recognition should
 
be given to the need for responsibility of the public sector, appropriate regulation
 
and development of public services, and the principle of equitable and affordable
 
access to services.
 
 
 
People and communities must be empowered to develop their own solutions within the
 
information society, in particular to fight poverty and to participate in
 
development through fully democratic processes that allow community access to and
 
participation in decision-making.
 
 
 
5.  Social Justice
 
 
 
5.1  Gender Equality
 
 
 
An equitable and inclusive Information Society must be based on gender justice and
 
be particularly guided by the interpretation of principles of gender equality,
 
non-discrimination and women's empowerment as contained in the Beijing Declaration
 
and Platform for Action and the CEDAW Convention. The Action Plan must demonstrate a
 
strong commitment to an intersectional approach to redressing discrimination
 
resulting from unequal power relations at all levels of society. To empower girls
 
and women throughout their life cycle, as shapers and leaders of society, gender
 
responsive educational programs and appropriate learning environments need to be
 
promoted. Gender analysis and the development of both quantitative and qualitative
 
indicators in measuring gender equality through an extensive and integrated national
 
system of monitoring and evaluation are "musts".
 
 
 
5.2  Disability
 
 
 
Specific needs and requirements of all stakeholders, including those with
 
disabilities, must be considered in ICT development. Accessibility and inclusiveness
 
*f ICTs is best done at an early stage of design, development and production, so
 
that the Information Society is to become the society for all, at minimum cost.
 
 
 
5.3  Labour rights
 
 
 
Essential human rights, such as privacy, freedom of expression, and the right of
 
trade unions to communicate with employees, should be respected in the workplace.
 
ICTs are progressively changing our way of working and the creation of a secure,
 
safe and healthy working environment , appropriate to the utilisation of ICTs,
 
respecting core labour standards, is fundamental. ICTs should be used to promote
 
awareness of, respect for and enforcement of universal human rights standards and
 
core labor standards.
 
 
 
5.4 Indigenous Peoples
 
 
 
The evolution of the Information Society must be founded on the respect and
 
promotion of the recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and their
 
distinctiveness as outlined in the ILO Convention 169 and the UN Draft Declaration
 
*n the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  They have fundamental rights to protect,
 
preserve and strengthen their own identity and cultural diversity. ICT's should be
 
used to support and promote the rights and means of Indigenous Peoples to benefit
 
fully and with priority from their cultural, intellectual and so-called natural
 
resources.
 
 
 
6.  Literacy, Education and Research
 
 
 
Literacy and free universal access to education is a key principle. All initiatives
 
must embrace this principle and respond to needs of all. Knowledge societies require
 
an informed and educated citizenry. Capacity building needs to include skills to use
 
ICTs, media and information literacy, and the skills needed for active citizenship
 
including the ability to find, appraise, use and create information and technology.
 
Approaches that are local, horizontal, gender-responsive and socially-driven and
 
mediated should be prioritised. A combination of traditional and new media as well
 
as open access to knowledge and information should be encouraged.
 
 
 
7.  Cultural and linguistic diversity
 
 
 
Communications media and information technologies have a particularly important role
 
to play in sustaining and developing the world's cultures and languages. The
 
implementation of this principle requires support for a plurality of means of
 
information and communication and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, as
 
*utlined in UNESCO's Declaration on Cultural Diversity.
 
 
 
8. Access and Infrastructure
 
 
 
Global universal access to communication and information should be a target of the
 
WSIS action plan and the expansion of the global information infrastructure should
 
be based on principles of equality and partnership and guided by rules of fair
 
competition and regulation at both national and international levels.  The
 
integration of access, infrastructure and training of the citizenry and the
 
generation of local content, in a framework of social networks and clear public or
 
private policies, is a key basis for the development of egalitarian and inclusive
 
information societies.  The evolution of policy should be coordinated
 
internationally but enable a diversity of appropriate solutions based on national
 
and regional input and international sharing of information and resources. This
 
should be people-centered and process-orientated, rather than technologically
 
determined and expert dominated.
 
 
 
9.      Governance and enabling environment
 
 
 
9.1    Democratic governance
 
Good governance in a democratic society implies openness, transparency,
 
accountability, and compliance with the rule of law. Respect for these principles is
 
needed to enforce the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs. Public
 
access to information produced or maintained by governments should be enforced,
 
ensuring that the information is timely, complete and accessible in a format and
 
language the public can understand. This also applies to access to information
 
produced or maintained by corporations where this relates to activities affecting
 
the public interest.
 
 
 
9.2Media
 
While allowing for government information services to communicate their message,
 
state-controlled media at the national level should be transformed into editorially
 
independent public service media organisations and/or privatised. Efforts which
 
encourage pluralism and diversity of media ownership must be encouraged to avoid
 
excessive media concentration
 
 
 
9.3  Community media
 
Community media, that is media which are independent, community-driven and
 
civil-society based, have a specific and crucial role to play in enabling access and
 
participation for all to the information society, especially the poorest and most
 
marginalised communities. Community media should be supported and promoted.
 
Governments should assure that legal frameworks for community media are
 
non-discriminatory and provide for equitable allocation of frequencies through
 
transparent and accountable mechanisms.
 
 
 
9.4    Internet governance
 
The global governance of ICT must be based on the values of open participation,
 
inclusiveness, transparency, and democratic accountability. It should establish and
 
support universal participation in addressing new international policy and technical
 
issues raised by the Internet and ICT.  No single body and no single stakeholder
 
group is able to manage all of the issues alone. Many stakeholders, cooperating in
 
strict accordance with widely supported rules and procedures, must define the global
 
agenda.
 
 
 
The non-government sector has played a historically critical role in Internet
 
Governance, and this must be recognized. The strength of the Int
 
ernet as an open non-Government platform should be reinforced, with an explicit and
 
stronger role for Civil Society.  The role of Governments should be no greater than
 
that of any other stakeholder group.
 
 
 
10      Public Domain of Global Knowledge
 
 
 
10.1    Limited intellectual monopolies
 
 
 
Human knowledge, including the knowledge of all peoples and communities, also those
 
who are remote and excluded, is the heritage of all humankind and the reservoir from
 
which new knowledge is created. A rich public domain is essential to inclusive
 
information societies. Limited intellectual monopolies, such as copyrights or
 
patents, are granted only for the benefit of society, most notably to encourage
 
creativity and innovation. The benchmark against which they must be reviewed and
 
adjusted regularly is how well they fulfill their purpose.
 
 
 
10.2    Free Software
 
 
 
Software is the cultural technique of the digital age and access to it determines
 
who may participate in a digital world. Free Software with its freedoms of use for
 
any purpose, studying, modification and redistribution is an essential building
 
block for an empowering, sustainable and inclusive information society. No software
 
model should be forbidden or negatively regulated, but Free Software should be
 
promoted for its unique social, educational, scientific, political and economic
 
benefits and opportunities.
 
 
 
10.3 Access to information in the public domain
 
 
 
Today, more than 80% of mankind has no access to the reservoir of human knowledge
 
that is the public domain and from which our new knowledge is created. Their
 
intellectual power remains uninitialized and consequently unused, lost to all
 
humankind. The reservoir of human knowledge must be made equally available to all in
 
*nline and  offline media by means of Free Documentation, public libraries and other
 
initiatives to disseminate information.
 
 
 
10.4 Open access to scientific information
 
 
 
Free scientific information is a requirement for sustainable development. Science is
 
the source of the technological development that empowers the Information Society,
 
including the World Wide Web. In the best tradition of science, scientific authors
 
donate their work to humankind and therefore, it must be equally available to all,
 
*n the Web, in online Open Access journals and online Open Archives.
 
 
 
 
 
11.    Security and privacy
 
 
 
11.1    Integrity and security
 
Definitions of criminal and terrorist purposes in existing and emerging policies and
 
legislation are ambiguous and prevent the use of information resources for
 
legitimate purposes. The legitimate need for infrastructure integrity must avoid
 
shift to the highly politicized agenda characterized by language referring to the
 
integrity of the military field and the use of  information resources for criminal
 
and terrorist purposes.
 
 
 
11.2    Right to privacy
 
The right to privacy should be affirmed in the context of the information society.
 
It must be defended in public spaces, online, offline, at home and in the workplace.
 
Every person must have the right to decide freely whether and in what manner he or
 
she wants to receive information and communicate with others. The possibility of
 
communicating anonymously must be ensured for everyone. The collection, retention,
 
use and disclosure of personal data, no matter by whom, should remain under the
 
control of the individual concerned. The power of the private sector and governments
 
*ver personal data, including monitoring and surveillance, increases the risk of
 
abuse, and must be kept to a minimum under clearly specified, legal conditions
 

Revision as of 09:36, 4 September 2009

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