The second part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was hold in Tunis on 16 -18 November 2005. The resumed PrepCom3 for last negotiations was convened at the KRAM conference center from 13 to 15 November.
Heads of state and government from all over the world have adopted a Tunis Commitment and a Tunis Agenda. The most contested issue in the final negotiations was Internet governance, but the summit itself put financing ICT for Development and related questions back on the table..
Independent news coverageVenue / Webcast
We were in Tunis with a couple of reporters and have brought you daily news, analyses and documents from a civil society perspective, from 13 to 18 November 2005. A complete listing is at the end of this page. Other news sources:
APC | Terraviva | WSIS blog aggregator | Inter Press Service | WSIS Wire news aggregator | British Council news aggregator
The summit, the accompanying ICT4ALL exhibiton, and most parallel events took place at the Kram Exhibition Park in Tunis. For those not able to participate - or who could not get into the rooms because of the mass of particpants - there is an archive of the webcast audio/video stream.
The ICT4ALL exhibition and the parallel events took place from 15 to 19 November. There were also high-level round tables, a high level panel on ICT for Development and "side events" that are related to WSIS but take place somewhere else - sometimes not in Tunisia.
Civil Society Concerns around the Summit / Citizens' Summit on the Information Society
Civil society groups have a number of concerns around the summit. Therefore, a number of them have tried to hold a Citizens' Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) parallel to the summit, together with independent Tunisian NGOs. Detailed information is available at the CSIS website. The announcement is here: (rtf): English | French | Spanish | Arabic The CSIS was prevented from happening by Tunisian authorities, without any written documentation and reference to legal reasons.
The preparatory process was mostly occupied with Internet Governance debates, which implies that there was no time for a real discussion about how to move from decisions and declarations (the Geneva phase) to implementation (the Tunis phase and beyond). So there still is a real danger that the summit in the end has produced tons of paper and documents, but has had no impact on the real world and on the conditions of living for a great number of people.
Where there was discussion around implementation and follow-up, the organizers have planned the summit in the style of a trade fair or a showcase for "best practices" and were determined to sell the the event as "the summit of solutions". This approach avoided speaking about the tougher questions that come up when assessing the summit from a human rights and global justice perspective. WSIS civil society had to decide if it again distances itself from the official outcomes and the techno-liberal attitude of the official summit process and develops an independent summit document. It did not draft another declaration, but a month after the summit issued a joint assessment of the WSIS outcomes and process:
WSIS Civil Society Statement on WSIS: "Much more could have been achieved", final version (revision 1), 23 December 2005
english: pdf | doc
Also, the host country Tunisia is known for its bad human rights record, and civil society groups were afraid that the summit would only lead to internationally legitimizing the non-democratic regime of president Ben Ali. Therefore, there was some discussion about completely boycotting the summit if Tunisia does not radically minimize its human rights violations. Independent Tunisian civil society groups instead asked for international support. Tunisian independent groups have issued a declaration about this in January 2005. One oputcome was the Citizens' Summit effort.
The WSIS Civil Society Bureau had also submitted an official position about the summit preparations and the summit itself in March 2005.
Worldsummit2005.org news and analyses on the Tunis Summit
22 December 2005: Creating Spaces for Civil Society in the WSIS. A Reply to Michael Gurstein, By Willie Currie
22. December 2005: Networking the Networked/Closing the Loop. Some Notes on WSIS II, By Michael Gurstein
19 December 2005: “Much more could have been achieved”. Civil Society Finishes Assessment of Summit Outcomes
28 November 2005: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part II. Rik and Ralf’s Take on the WSIS, By Ralf Bendrath and Rik Panganiban
23 November 2005: Civil Society Best Practices to bridge the digital divide. Evaluations of the involvement in WSIS, By Charlotte Dany
18 November 2005: “The End of the Beginning” – WSIS is over. Documents adopted, Civil Society preparing assessment
18 November 2005: Civil Society groups reflect on WSIS process. Where to Next?
18 November 2005: The panel I never attended. About a journey of a WSIS participant who tried to seize the day, By Johannes Schunter
17 November 2005: The WSIS "High Level Panel". A missed opportunity? A comparison of two panel events
17 November 2005: "Art and Free Knowledge" event in Tunis. When Richard Stallman and Gilberto Gil sing a duet...
17 November 2005: One long month of hunger strike for three basic democratic objectives. Increasing international support for eight Tunesian opposition leaders on strike, By Christine Wenzel
16/17 November 2005: The citizens summit is dead – long live the citizens summit! CSIS press conference becomes major human rights gathering
16 November 2005: Summit Agenda switching to “ICT and development”. Governments use final statements to reiterate their pet subjects.
16 November 2005: "Visions in Process II" released at World Summit. New Publication of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
16 November 2005: Second WSIS summit officially opened. Kofi Annan: Challenges are political, not financial – Ben Ali receives deep criticism for Tunisian human rights record
15 November 2005: Negotiations closer to agreement. Consensus on Internet Governance Forum and - almost - ICANN oversight
15 November 2005: “Abnormal Circumstances”. Civil Society Organisations cancel events, protesting human rights violations in Tunisia, By Charlotte Dany
15 November 2005: Broadcast Media in the Information Society? World Electronic Media Forum
14 November 2005: Meeting Tunisian civil society – and Tunisian secret police. The strategy of intimidation
14 November 2005: Tunisian authorities escalate conflict with civil society. Citizens Summit meeting blocked
13 November 2005: PrepCom3 has re-convened. Trying to find common ground under chaotic circumstances
9 November 2005: Tunisian Authorities block our Side-Event. Harassment can lead to summit being not in Tunisia, but about Tunisia