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<title>FSF Europe - World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) - Civil Society Essential Benchmarks for WSIS</title>
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<b>Geneva, November 14th, 2003</b>
<h1>Civil Society<br />Essential Benchmarks for WSIS</h1>
<center><p><em>The essential benchmarks listed in this document
reflect work in progress by the civil society content and themes group
of the WSIS process. While there is consensus on the priorities
stated here this document does not represent absolute consensus, nor
does the order of the essential benchmarks constitute a strict ranking
in order of importance. For more information on the WSIS CS CT group,
contact: Sally Burch, &lt;<a
<h3>1. Introduction</h3>
<p>The approach to the "Information Society" on which the WSIS has
been based reflects, to a large extent, a narrow understanding in
which ICTs means telecommunications and the Internet. This approach
has marginalised key issues relating to the development potential
inherent in the combination of knowledge and technology and thus
conflicts with the broader development mandate given in UNGA
Resolution 56/183. </p>
<p>Civil society is committed to a people-centred, inclusive approach
based on respect for human rights principles and development
priorities. We believe these principles and priorities should be
embedded throughout the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Action
Plan. This paper sets out the benchmarks against which civil society
will assess the outcomes of the WSIS process and the commitment of all
stakeholders to achieving its mandate.</p>
<h3>2. Human rights</h3>
<p>The WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action, should take
as their foundations the international human rights framework. This
implies the full integration, concrete application and enforcement of
civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including
labour rights, the right to development, as well as the principle of
non-discrimination. The universality, indivisibility, interrelatedness
and interdependence of all human rights should be clearly recognised,
together with their centrality to democracy and the rule of law.</p>
<p>All Principles of the Declaration and all activities in the Action
Plan, should be in full compliance with international human rights
standards, which should prevail over national legislative
frameworks. The "information society" must not result in any
discrimination or deprivation of human rights resulting from the acts
or omissions of governments or of non-state actors under their
jurisdictions. Any restriction on the use of ICTs must pursue a
legitimate aim under international law, be prescribed by law, be
strictly proportionate to such an aim, and be necessary in a
democratic society.</p>
<p>Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is of
fundamental and specific importance to the information society,
requiring that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression and the right to seek, receive and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.</p>
<h3>3.Poverty reduction and the Right to Development</h3>
<p>Given the unequal distribution of wealth among and within nations,
the struggle against poverty should be the top priority on theagenda
of the World Summit on the Information Society. It is not possible to
achieve sustainable development by embracing new communication
technologies without challenging existing inequalities.</p>
<p>Civil society organisations from different parts of the world unite
in their call to governments to take this matter very seriously. We
want to emphasise that challenging poverty requires more than setting
of 'development agendas'.It requires the commitment of significant
financial and other resources, linked with social and digital
solidarity, channeled through existing and new financing mechanisms
that are managed transparently and inclusively of all sectors of
<h3>4.Sustainable development</h3>
<p>An equitable Information Society must be shaped by the needs of
people and communities and based on sustainable economic, social
development and democratic principles, including the Millennium
Development Goals.</p>
<p>Only development that embraces the principles of social justice and
gender equality can be said to centrally address fundamental social,
cultural and economic divides. Market-based development solutions
often fail to address more deep-rooted and persistent inequalities in
and between countries of the North and South.</p>
<p>Democratic and sustainable development of in the information
society can therefore not be left solely to market forces and the
propagation of technology. In order to balance commercial objectives
with legitimate social interests, recognition should be given to the
need for responsibility of the public sector, appropriate regulation
and development of public services, and the principle of equitable and
affordable access to services.</p>
<p>People and communities must be empowered to develop their own
solutions within the information society, in particular to fight
poverty and to participate in development through fully democratic
processes that allow community access to and participation in
<h3>5. Social Justice</h3>
<h3>5.1 Gender Equality</h3>
<p>An equitable and inclusive Information Society must be based on
gender justice and be particularly guided by the interpretation of
principles of gender equality, non-discrimination and women's
empowerment as contained in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for
Action and the CEDAW Convention. The Action Plan must demonstrate a
strong commitment to an intersectional approach to redressing
discrimination resulting from unequal power relations at all levels of
society. To empower girls and women throughout their life cycle, as
shapers and leaders of society, gender responsive educational programs
and appropriate learning environments need to be promoted. Gender
analysis and the development of both quantitative and qualitative
indicators in measuring gender equality through an extensive and
integrated national system of monitoring and evaluation are
<h3>5.2 Disability</h3>
<p>Specific needs and requirements of all stakeholders, including
those with disabilities, must be considered in ICT
development. Accessibility and inclusiveness of ICTs is best done at
an early stage of design, development and production, so that the
Information Society is to become the society for all, at minimum
cost. </p>
<h3>5.3 Labour rights</h3>
<p>Essential human rights, such as privacy, freedom of expression, and
the right of trade unions to communicate with employees, should be
respected in the workplace. ICTs are progressively changing our way of
working and the creation of a secure, safe and healthy working
environment , appropriate to the utilisation of ICTs, respecting core
labour standards, is fundamental. ICTs should be used to promote
awareness of, respect for and enforcement of universal human rights
standards and core labor standards.</p>
<h3>5.4 Indigenous Peoples</h3>
<p>The evolution of the Information Society must be founded on the
respect and promotion of the recognition of the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples and their distinctiveness as outlined in the ILO Convention
169 and the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
They have fundamental rights to protect, preserve and strengthen their
own identity and cultural diversity. ICT's should be used to support
and promote the rights and means of Indigenous Peoples to benefit
fully and with priority from their cultural, intellectual and
so-called natural resources.</p>
<h3>6. Literacy, Education and Research</h3>
<p>Literacy and free universal access to education is a key
principle. All initiatives must embrace this principle and respond to
needs of all. Knowledge societies require an informed and educated
citizenry. Capacity building needs to include skills to use ICTs,
media and information literacy, and the skills needed for active
citizenship including the ability to find, appraise, use and create
information and technology. Approaches that are local, horizontal,
gender-responsive and socially-driven and mediated should be
prioritised. A combination of traditional and new media as well as
open access to knowledge and information should be encouraged.</p>
<h3>7. Cultural and linguistic diversity</h3>
<p>Communications media and information technologies have a
particularly important role to play in sustaining and developing the
world's cultures and languages. The implementation of this principle
requires support for a plurality of means of information and
communication and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, as
outlined in UNESCO's Declaration on Cultural Diversity.</p>
<h3>8. Access and Infrastructure</h3>
<p>Global universal access to communication and information should be
a target of the WSIS action plan and the expansion of the global
information infrastructure should be based on principles of equality
and partnership and guided by rules of fair competition and regulation
at both national and international levels. The integration of access,
infrastructure and training of the citizenry and the generation of
local content, in a framework of social networks and clear public or
private policies, is a key basis for the development of egalitarian
and inclusive information societies. The evolution of policy should
be coordinated internationally but enable a diversity of appropriate
solutions based on national and regional input and international
sharing of information and resources. This should be people-centered
and process-orientated, rather than technologically determined and
expert dominated.</p>
<h3>9.Governance and enabling environment</h3>
<h3>9.1Democratic governance</h3>
<p>Good governance in a democratic society implies openness,
transparency, accountability, and compliance with the rule of
law. Respect for these principles is needed to enforce the right to
take part in the conduct of public affairs. Public access to
information produced or maintained by governments should be enforced,
ensuring that the information is timely, complete and accessible in a
format and language the public can understand. This also applies to
access to information produced or maintained by corporations where
this relates to activities affecting the public interest. </p>
<h3>9.2 Media</h3> <p>While allowing for government information
services to communicate their message, state-controlled media at the
national level should be transformed into editorially independent
public service media organisations and/or privatised. Efforts which
encourage pluralism and diversity of media ownership must be
encouraged to avoid excessive media concentration.</p>
<h3>9.3 Community media</h3>
<p>Community media, that is media which
are independent, community-driven and civil-society based, have a
specific and crucial role to play in enabling access and participation
for all to the information society, especially the poorest and most
marginalised communities. Community media should be supported and
promoted. Governments should assure that legal frameworks for
community media are non-discriminatory and provide for equitable
allocation of frequencies through transparent and accountable
<h3>9.4Internet governance</h3>
<p>The global governance of ICT must be based on the values of open
participation, inclusiveness, transparency, and democratic
accountability. It should establish and support universal
participation in addressing new international policy and technical
issues raised by the Internet and ICT. No single body and no single
stakeholder group is able to manage all of the issues alone. Many
stakeholders, cooperating in strict accordance with widely supported
rules and procedures, must define the global agenda.</p>
<p>The non-government sector has played a historically critical role
in Internet Governance, and this must be recognised. The strength of
the Internet as an open non-Government platform should be reinforced,
with an explicit and stronger role for Civil Society. The role of
Governments should be no greater than that of any other stakeholder
<h3>10Public Domain of Global Knowledge</h3>
<h3>10.1 Limited intellectual monopolies</h3>
<p>Human knowledge, including the knowledge of all peoples and
communities, also those who are remote and excluded, is the heritage
of all humankind and the reservoir from which new knowledge is
created. A rich public domain is essential to inclusive information
societies. Limited intellectual monopolies, such as copyrights or
patents, are granted only for the benefit of society, most notably to
encourage creativity and innovation. The benchmark against which they
must be reviewed and adjusted regularly is how well they fulfill their
<h3>10.2Free Software</h3>
<p>Software is the cultural technique of the digital age and access to
it determines who may participate in a digital world. Free Software
with its freedoms of use for any purpose, studying, modification and
redistribution is an essential building block for an empowering,
sustainable and inclusive information society. No software model
should be forbidden or negatively regulated, but Free Software should
be promoted for its unique social, educational, scientific, political
and economic benefits and opportunities.</p>
<h3>10.3 Access to information in the public domain</h3>
<p>Today, more than 80% of mankind has no access to the reservoir of
human knowledge that is the public domain and from which our new
knowledge is created. Their intellectual power remains
uninitialised and consequently unused, lost to all humankind. The
reservoir of human knowledge must be made equally available to all in
online and offline media by means of Free Documentation, public
libraries andother initiatives to disseminate information.</p>
<h3>10.4 Open access to scientific information</h3>
<p>Free scientific information is a requirement for sustainable
development. Science is the source of the technological
development that empowers the Information Society, including the World
Wide Web. In the best tradition of science, scientific authors donate
their work to humankind and therefore, it must be equally available to
all, on the Web, in online Open Access journals and online Open
<h3>11. Security and privacy</h3>
<h3>11.1 Integrity and security</h3>
<p>Definitions of criminal and terrorist purposes in existing and
emerging policies and legislation are ambiguous and prevent the use of
information resources for legitimate purposes. The legitimate need for
infrastructure integrity must avoid shift to the highly politicised
agenda characterised by language referring to the integrity of the
military field and the use of information resources for criminal and
terrorist purposes. </p>
<h3>11.2 Right to privacy</h3>
<p>The right to privacy should be affirmed in the context of the
information society. It must be defended in public spaces, online,
offline, at home and in the workplace. Every person must have the
right to decide freely whether and in what manner he or she wants to
receive information and communicate with others. The possibility of
communicating anonymously must be ensured for everyone. The
collection, retention, use and disclosure of personal data, no matter
by whom, should remain under the control of the individual
concerned. The power of the private sector and governments over
personal data, including monitoring and surveillance, increases the
risk of abuse, and must be kept to a minimum under clearly specified,
legal conditions.</p>
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