AW: [WSIS CS-Plenary] Re: [CS Bureau] Next GFC Meetings
wolfgang.kleinwaechter at medienkomm.uni-halle.de
Sat Jun 25 09:42:34 BST 2005
FYI, this is a letter of the WSIS European Civil Society Caucus to EU Commissionber Vivien Reding:
Copenhagen 24th of June 2005
Dear Ms. Vivian Reding,
We address you in order to make you, and your European colleagues, aware of the deep engagement of Civil Society in the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and the current preparations leading up to the second Summit to be held in Tunisia in November 2005.
First of all, we would like to underline the good interactions between EU governments and Civil Society during phase I, not least the constructive collaboration within the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). As European Information Society and Media Commissioner we believe that you are in a position to advance civil society dialogue with the EU both in the preparations leading up to the Summit in Tunisia, at the Summit itself, and beyond.
The WSIS process has been a summit process, promoting a multi-stakeholder approach throughout, not only granting civil society opportunities to express political views and recommendations, but also in fact giving it a structural hold in the process. It is thus imperative that strong civil society participation is supported and maintained. Several European countries have taken a leading role in building productive relations with representatives from civil society and have shown the way towards an exchange and cooperation between representatives of governments and civil society based on trust and mutual appreciation. Given our experiences in the WSIS process so far, we would like to express our interest and willingness to intensify civil society-EU cooperation, particularly with a view to establishing a strong and much needed regional network for the WSIS implementation and monitoring process.
This need for dialogue between civil society and EU is underlined by the problems encountered by civil society in Tunis and by international civil society organizations when in Tunis. Serious threats are being directed at civil society organizations and the freedom of expression in Tunisia inflicting on all of civil society's participation at the Tunis Summit.
Human rights organizations have questioned the decision to hold this conference in Tunisia, a country that tolerates little criticism of the government and that blocks websites on the basis of their political content. It is the fear of many civil society organizations that the Tunis Summit will neither be representative nor allowing for the involvement of civil society organizations, who are elsewhere deeply involved in the WSIS process. It is therefore urgent that the International Civil Society is engaged in a constant and constructive dialogue with the European Union, in order to discuss these issues and to ensure that the European Union be fully informed of the positions and status of civil society in the WSIS process.
In addition the status of civil society in the process and true inclusion of all stakeholders also rest on allocating financial resources to secure participation for those NGO's, especially from developing countries, deeply involved in the process, but constrained in their participation by lack of funding for the high costs of travel and accommodation.
In our view, the European region is well suited to play an exemplary role by fully integrating civil society in the WSIS implementation and monitoring process, thus keeping alive the WSIS spirit and making a reality the provisions of the WSIS Declaration and Action Plan. Just as WSIS has promoted the multi-stakeholder approach and thereby broken new ground on the summit level, its implementation along these lines, supporting a strong follow-up process and securing the necessary stocktaking, can show the way towards prime objectives of the EU, most notably those concerning regional and social integration.
We therefore urge you to support dialogue and increased involvement of civil society with the European Union. We also suggest that a Civil Society liaison be appointed to ease interaction between the European Union and European civil society both in the present process and beyond.
We thank you for your effort so far and look forward to an open and constructive dialogue with you in the future.
On behalf of European civil society
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