WSIS+10: Connected, and Unprotected

Will WSIS’s true legacy reflect connected, and unprotected? Shawn Powers, and assistant professor at Georgia State University, discusses the WSIS+10 High Level Event and why its outcomes are troubling for freedom of expression.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2015. The original summits—held in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005—were the result of UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183, which summoned the international community to “marshal the global consensus and commitment required to promote the urgently needed access of all countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies for development.” Together, the two meetings brought together over 30,000 participants, including numerous heads of state and globally representative civil society actors from 175 countries. The stakeholders produced the Geneva Plan of Action (2003) and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (2005) pledging, among other things, to promote “the use of ICT-based products, networks, services and applications, and to help countries overcome the digital divide.”

The WSIS summits spearheaded the concept of multistakeholderism and served as the first time an intergovernmental organization allowed non-state actors, including civil society groups and academics, to contribute directly to the decision-making processes (for additional detail, see Marc Raboy and Normand Landry’sCivil Society, Communication and Global Governance). These non-state actors lobbied to expand the scope of the…

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