United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO to host intersessional meeting of the world summit on the information society

Paris – UNESCO is to host the Intersessional Meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society at Organization Headquarters on July 15-18. More than 800 participants - government representatives and observers from intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector - will attend the meeting, convened by the President of the Preparatory Committee of the Summit, Adama Sammassékou of Mali.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koďchiro Matsuura, will address the opening session of the meeting which aims to refine the draft Declaration of Principles and the draft Plan of Action1 that are to be adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)2, which is organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) under the patronage of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and is due to take place in Geneva (December 10-12, 2003) and in Tunis (November 16-18, 2005).

In his address, the Director-General will present UNESCO’s input to the Summit. UNESCO advocates the development of “knowledge societies”, a concept that aims to be more inclusive than that of “information society” and is based on four principles:

  • the basic human right of freedom of expression, which must apply to the internet as it does to traditional media
  • cultural diversity, including the promotion of multilingualism on the internet
  • universal access to education, both education for the utilization of ICTs and the use of ICTs themselves in accessing education
  • universal access to information, an important element for good governance and for development.

    UNESCO has taken a number of initiatives to promote these priorities. During the 32nd session of the General Conference of its Member States (September 29-October 17), UNESCO will organize a Ministerial Roundtable Meeting (October 9 and 10) at which ministers in charge of ICTs and information society-related issues will be able to examine these issues ahead of the World Summit.

    Two texts that could serve as international standard setting instruments will furthermore be submitted for adoption to the General Conference of UNESCO:

  • the draft Recommendation on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace3 that has been conceived as a legal instrument on equitable access to information and aiming to contribute to the development of multi-cultural knowledge societies. It also features guidelines on the preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity

  • the draft UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage4, a declaration of principles focusing on advocacy and public policy issues and intended to help prepare national policies to preserve digital heritage and extend access to it.

    Over a year of preparatory meetings, international consensus has emerged about the importance of harnessing the information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development of individuals and communities worldwide. Particular emphasis is being placed on improving access to the Internet in developing countries. Measures under discussion concern both infrastructure and content.

    Lively debate is expected to take place about some of the issues included in the draft Declaration and Plan of Action as they stand today. They concern, for example, control of harmful content (websites promoting racial hate, paedophilia etc) and freedom of expression, security and human rights, and intellectual property rights.


    Journalists wishing to cover the event should contact UNESCO’s Press Service for accreditation, Tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48


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    Author(s) UNESCOPRESS
    Source Media Advisory No. 2003-63
    Website 1 (URL) 1. Draft Plan of Action
    Website 2 (URL) 2. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
    Website 3 (URL) 3. Recommendation on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace
    Website 4 (URL) 4. UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage
    Generic Field
    Spanish
    Editorial Contact: Roni Amelan, Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section, Tel +33 (0)1 45 68 16 50
    - Email r.amelan@unesco.org
    Publication Date 11 Jul 2003
    © UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 13545