Disclaimer: This report is written by Thomas Ruddy,
and reflects only his personal views, neither those of
his employer nor those of other participants.
Markus Kummer from Switzerland's Office of Foreign Affairs
and Frédéric Riehl of the Office of Communication (OFCOM) are both members of
the Swiss delegation to the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS). Mr. Riehl moderated a session
on April 10, 2003, to which some 30 persons had been
invited by Switzerland's Office of Communication. The
meeting was held in Bern to consider forming a
tripartite platform to dialogue with the Swiss
delegation to the United Nations about the World
Summit on the Information Society. This participation
by civil society in national delegations seems to be a
trend, at least in EU member states, as we hear about
similar actions in Germany from the Boell Foundation
Mr. Riehl showed an organigram extending downward from
the Conseil fédéral and Marc Furrer to himself and
Stauffacher among others. Kummer emphasised that the
EU was preparing its comments to the draft action
plan. EU member states are said to be working on the draft
Switzerland, for its part, not a member state in the
EU but in EFTA, has produced a basic document to
highlight its priorities. It was prepared in four
sections entitled respectively Culture, Framework
Conditions, E-Commerce and "ICT and Poverty" as
drafted by the Swiss Office of Culture, Office of
Communication (OFCOM), SECO and SDC. It was decided to
form four tripartite groups to revise this basic
document. Work is to be finished by the end of May for
the intersessional meeting at UNESCO in Paris.
Among the thirty attendees were several assistants
of M. Riehl such as Rahel Egger (who handled
invitations and distribution of the extensive basic
documents), Mme Veya from Science et Cite, and M.
Morel from SATW.
Besides the EU, the OECD is also actively working on
WSIS issues. The Council of Europe has its treaty on
Cybercrime. Kummer also mentioned sustainable
development. That objective has recently been
officially documented in this paper entitled "Die
Ziele des Bundesrates im Jahre 2003",
page 4, Objective No. 4 reads as follows:
Weiterentwicklung und Umsetzung einer multilateralen
Politik der Nachhaltigkeit:
* Umsetzung Aktionsplan Johannesburg
* Beteiligung am «World Summit on Information
Here is an excerpt drafted by Sabine Brenner from the current Swiss document regarding sustainability in the Information Society along with an English translation furnished by Thomas Ruddy.
Sabine Brenner could not attend, but will do so next
time and was cited as a contact at OFCOM, which is
handling the editing of the document part headed
framework conditions, firstname.lastname@example.org
There was much discussion about additive nature of
the WSIS drafting process, especially from the Swiss
Federal Statistics Office. Lumping the many themes
together under the four headings, though, was also
discussed controversially, and ways to structure them
were sought by Mr. Morel and Mr. Kummer.
Further criticism came from a group of journalists
around Michel Buhrer, which reported that journalists
are not satisfied with the way the issue of the media
is being addressed at WSIS, which does not reflect
their close relation with the subject matter of WSIS. Hence
journalists, or at least those represented by the
Schweizer Verband der JournalistInnen und Journalisten (SVJ),
one of whose legal advisors attended the meeting in Bern, Alexander Sami
from Fribourg. SVJ has a joint statement with the International Federation
of Journalists (IFJ), "the world's largest organization of journalists"
in a 2-page German version, said to be available in French and English
as well on request, http://www.journalisten.ch/ge/Arbeitspapier.pdf
IFJ iself has a policy statement dated Feb. 2003 as this 15-page PDF file
on its Website, http://www.ifj.org/publications/download/WSIS2003.pdf
A few catchwords from it are universal service, privacy vs. terrorism control,
public-service broadcasting, freedom of expression, the protection of journalists
and regulations against media concentration, ethics, UNESCO, cultural and media pluralism.
Why is it that journalists are not reporting much on WSIS? The European Broadcasting
Union (EBU) seems to have taken a stance similar to that of IFJ. EBU refers to
its "key role" at WSIS in a recent press release, http://www.ebu.ch/news/press_archive/press_breves_2003_31_sommet.php?display=EN
The next meeting of the tack force is scheduled for the 20th May 2003 at 13h30 in Bern.
Update: 18th April 2003
Back up to www.wsis.ethz.ch/calendar.htm
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