Saturday, February 25, 2006

WSIS Follow-up Conference Held in Copenhagen February 2006

The World Federation of United Nations Associations Task Force on WSIS & The Danish Network on WSIS organized a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 21-22, 2006 to follow up on the World Summit on the Information Society, which concluded on November 18, 2005 with an agreement among world leaders on ambitious objectives and promises for the future Information Society. The conference, called "Where to go from Tunis? Implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and the role of Civil Society in this process," evaluated the results of the WSIS process and took stock of what impact the summit can have on global development in general, and more specifically on the future of the Information Society, particularly from a civil society perspective. The event presented keynote speeches and workshops focused on four concrete issues and approaches, including one on "Human Rights and ICT's." More information.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Composition of IITF

Indigenous participation in the International Indigenous ICT Task Force (IITF) will consist of four (4) members from each of the world regions as recognized by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for a total of twenty-eight (28) members, as follows:

· Africa

· Asia

· North America

· Central/South America

. Caribbean

· Pacific

· Former USSR and Eastern Europe

· Arctic

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mandate and Objectives of the IITF

Mandate of the IITF:

The IITF was set up by the Indigenous Caucus at the Tunis Summit as an Indigenous mechanism for follow-up the WSIS work.

The work of the IITF will be based on the WSIS-related documents, that is those developed by Indigenous Peoples themselves and those adopted by Governments in the Summit proceedings.

The IITF will actively seek to inform Indigenous Peoples on a broad scale on the WSIS process and its follow-up.

The IITF will actively seek partnerships with Governments, UN agencies and NGOs to work on common projects related to the Information Society, and particularly with the goal to prepare for a Global Indigenous ICT Forum in 2007.

The core objectives of the International Indigenous ICT Task Force for the fiscal years 2006-07 are to continue the WSIS work, and particularly the work that has been done in Tunis in the following ways:

- Fundraising to host a Global Indigenous ICT Forum no later than November 2007

- Informing Indigenous Peoples on the WSIS process and its follow-up and ensuring a broad Indigenous involvement

- Raising awareness among Indigenous Peoples about the challenges and opportunities posed by the evolving Information Society, particularly with a view to promoting cultural diversity, strengthening Indigenous cultures and identities and to issues related to unauthorized use, appropriation and exploitation of traditional knowledge

- Developing an international Indigenous Portal

- Elaborating a draft for a Tunis e-strategy to be discussed and adopted at the Global Indigenous ICT Forum

- Finding possibilities for carrying out ICT capacity-building for Indigenous Peoples

- Promoting the development of national and international partnerships

- Promoting the establishment of working groups within the IICTF to deal with issues related to the Information Society and ICT utilization

In order to achieve these core objectives, the International Indigenous ICT Task Force will need to:

- Identify funding requirements;
*fund-raising efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels should commence immediately

- Recruit partners and participants;
* efforts to recruit partners and participants at the local, national, regional and international levels should commence immediately

- Foster international awareness of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples with a view to ICTs and connectivity

- Foster and form partnerships and collaborations between Indigenous Peoples and government departments, United Nations agencies, NGOs, the academic community and the private sector in relation to meeting the indigenous outcomes of WSIS.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Indigenous ICT Task Force

The International Indigenous ICT Task Force was born in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

WSIS was the first United Nations Summit that was convened in two phases. WSIS(1) took place from 10-12 December 2003 in Geneva and WSIS(2) from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis.

Generally, WSIS aimed to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society, and particularly the Internet, are accessible to all while promoting specific advantages in areas such as e-commerce, e-governance, e-health, education, literacy, cultural diversity, gender equality, sustainable development and environmental protection.

Indigenous Peoples were involved in both WSIS phases. A small international Indigenous delegation under the umbrella of the Indigenous Media Network participated in a number of preparatory meetings to voice Indigenous concerns and aspirations, to work towards including them in the final Summit documents and to establish Indigenous Peoples as a stakeholder in the evolution of the Information Society. The Geneva and Tunis Summits themselves were accompanied by two larger parallel events on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, enabling a number of Indigenous representatives to become involved into the political WSIS process.

Due to the efforts of Indigenous Peoples, a special “Indigenous paragraph” was included in the Geneva WSIS Declaration of Principles (Art.15) and the Tunis Commitment (Art.22):

“In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of Indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.”

This paragraph establishes Indigenous Peoples as a stakeholder in the WSIS process, its implementation and follow-up.

At the Tunisia phase of WSIS Indigenous delegates agreed to establish an Indigenous ICT Taskforce to continue the work of WSIS from an Indigenous point of view.

Cultural diversity in the Information Society, respect for and protection of traditional knowledge, the strengthening of Indigenous cultures and identities through ICTs and Indigenous connectivity should continue to be a focus for discussions at any number of international gatherings, including, but not limited to, the UN Permanent Forum, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and the Summit of the Americas.

A "Terms of Reference" was developed by the IITF to seek to guide the formulation of the international Indigenous ICT agenda, through communications which are open, transparent and culturally appropriate.

It should be understood by all parties that the issues related to participation of Indigenous Peoples in the Information Society and of Indigenous connectivity are still evolving. The Terms of Reference should therefore be viewed as a “work in progress” as further research, dialogues, policies and partnerships are developed.