World Summit

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Thomas Ruddy
Solothurn University

On the global level there is disagreement among the various actors involved on how to bridge the global digital divide.


Society is not aware of the implications of the Information Society. The ramifications on existing power structures pose a threat to citizens. The digital "haves" are being separated from the "have-nots" along various divides, including a global one. Access to the Internet is becoming more important daily, but society is unsure how to soften the inequality among its citizens that has developed in obtaining such access.


The Information Society has developed differently in the United States and Europe (Ref.1). Society needs to be both instructed on the status of the Information Society as it is, and consulted for directions on what it should be. Society needs to gain new insights into the power structures being affected by the dawning of the Information Society (Ref.2), and into the use of new means for civil society involvement. The predominance of the International Telecommunication Union ITU in these matters is explained in Ref. 3 and displayed in Ref. 4.

The G-8 took up the task of bridging the global digital divide, but left it unfinished. Recently the United Nations has inaugurated an ICT Task Force to continue such work. These developments are documented on my chronology.

The usual pattern of dissent among the three social partners (government, the private sector and civil society), and within civil society itself, involves blame and mistrust, and becomes evident in the debate over the wording of "recommendations". Here is a summary of the status quo.

Furthermore, UN organizations suffer from inadequate funding, and soon become dependent on other actors who can pay their own way (Ref.5). Civil society actors also suffer from inadequate funding, and in addition from bad organization and contested legitimacy. Business interests are much better equipped on the first two counts.

Civil society actors are showing some new promise in the latest attempt described under "Therefore", but the awareness of the event described there is not yet widespread. Already some fatigue is evident at the futility of repeated undertakings and expressed in such reactions as "yet another world summit".

If civil society actors set up systems to improve their legitimacy, it would alleviate the funding dilemma, as outlined by Michael Edwards in books listed on my Website. .

I am submitting this abstract personally, but have potential partners for further fleshing out of the solution proposed under "Therefore" upon notification from the conference team. Indeed the conference DIAC-02 itself should be an opportunity to begin implementing the solution.


Civil society actors (CSOs) should improve their legitimacy. Then funding would improve. Likewise others should assure CSOs that CSOs' recommendations will be taken seriously, and then they would participate more effectively.

The various actors will make a new attempt to forge a common action plan at the World Summit on the Information Society, which will open in Geneva, Switzerland, at the International Telecommunication Union ITU, Dec.10-12, 2003. It will be an important occasion, as shown in Ref. 5 and on my Web-based discussion list for CSOs.

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