[alternet-l] THE ALTERNET NEWS - ISSUE # 104

Joanne Doyle joanne at gn.apc.org
Thu Dec 18 16:01:00 GMT 2003


This issue - WSIS FOCUS:


The AlterNet News is the GreenNet e-newsletter that carries brief news 
items, campaign updates, a diary of key forthcoming events and 
announcements. News comes from our contacts all over the web, but most of 
the AlterNet News will come from the GreenNet community.

This edition is a special focus on the recent WSIS (World Summit on the 
Information Society).

Please send items for inclusion in the next edition, including a web link 
if possible, to actnow at gn.apc.org. Items may need to be edited. Plain text 
e-mail is preferred. Please don't send news to the AlterNet address.

Back issues are on-line at:
--> www.gn.apc.org/news/alternet/index.html



Useful resources from the WSIS:

Official WSIS site:
--> www.worldsummit2003.org/

Draft Plan of Action:
--> www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_single-en-1160.asp

The World Summit on the Information Society Civil Society Meeting Point:
--> www.wsis-cs.org/

Communication Rights in the Information Society: CRIS Campaign:
--> www.crisinfo.org/live/index.php

WSIS Civil Society News Centre:

APC WNSP (Women's Networking Support Programme) at the WSIS:
--> www.apcwomen.org/summit/index.html

The Daily Summit - daily news coverage of the WSIS:
--> www.dailysummit.net/



APC reports:

At the World Forum for Communication Rights, a parallel forum to the 
official World Summit on the Information Society, speakers from the United 
States, Colombia, and a Kenyan technologist working in Rwanda took up the 
theme of how war situations deny communities the right to communicate and 
how citizens can and are responding to break the silence.

The session that was convened by APC and hosted by Karen Banks (APC, 
GreenNet Director, London) and Ralf Bendrath (German WSIS Coordination 
Group, Berlin).

The first victim of war is the truth, so goes an old proverb. Communication 
propaganda has been used throughout history as a means of justifying 
military aggression and mass killings — from the middle ages to the 
genocide in Rwanda to the war in Iraq. But communication — and in 
particular grassroots network-driven communication — can also be a force 
for peace building and conflict resolution. It is precisely for this reason 
that the first thing rulers on the road to war deny are people's right to 
communicate freely — be it by censorship, manipulation, restricting access 
to the means of communication or otherwise — in the interests of national 

This session discussed recent examples of communication rights and wrongs 
in the context of war and peace. It assessed military attempts to wage 
information warfare and analysed the role of mass media in framing and 
amplifying military conflicts. It also discussed how people were denied 
their right to communicate in these circumstances, and how they resisted 
and built up new forms of independent media and communication channels for 
peace activism and peaceful communication.

Read the full article here:
--> www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=15972



Dafne Plou interviews Chat Garcia Ramilo, from the Philippines, a member of 
the Women's Networking Support Programme of the Association for Progressive
Communications (APC WNSP) and a well-known researcher and activist on 
gender and ICT issues.

Q: Why is it important to make sure that gender issues are included at the 

A: Because of two things really. One, the issues being discussed at WSIS, 
such as human rights in the so-called information society, questions of 
privacy and security, ICT for development, production of information and 
knowledge creation, are very critical for women. Second, the majority of 
governments are gender blind and have no position on gender issues at all. 
Unfortunately, we are starting at a very low level as far as the gender 
perspective is concerned. Only a few countries like Canada, Norway, 
Switzerland, South Africa, Samoa and some others have actively supported 
including strong language in the WSIS Declaration.

Q: Who are the other players at the WSIS and what is their perspective on 

A: WSIS is being seen as a multi-stakeholder effort and the players are 
governments, the private sector and civil society. I have already outlined 
the position of the governments. The private sector is completely silent on 
gender issues as well as other social issues. They really are mainly 
interested in protecting their business interests and making sure that any 
threats to competition and profit do not make it to the agreements. They do 
not support free and open source software and freeing up intellectual 
property standards.

As far as the broader civil society is concerned, we work very closely and 
cooperatively within the Civil Society Plenary, a body formed by civil 
society organisations to coordinate advocacy both content and lobby, in the 
WSIS process. Gender advocates have also supported broad consensus on 
critical issues of human rights, universal access, etc.

Read the interview in full here:

--> www.socialrights.org/spip/article333.html

The "Seven Musts" were born out of the priorities that women wanted to 
bring to the WSIS debate. They express the fact that gender mainstreaming
in the WSIS process takes into account the diverse needs and perspectives 
of women emanating from differences in geo-political, historical,
class-based, racial, ethnic and other contexts.

--> www.socialrights.org/spip/article327.html



Renate Bloem, President of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), was invited to 
make a statement at the WSIS opening ceremony:

'It is indeed a great honor to be here tonight and I thank the Swiss 
authorities for inviting me to bring a voice of civil society to this 
Opening Ceremony. I honor them for having so well understood and supported 
the assertion of the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, when he said 
(already in 1999 at the World Civil Society Conference in Montreal) that 
‘for the United Nations, co-operation with civil society is not an option, 
it is a necessity’.

Never before has civil society so deeply and passionately been involved and 
has participated in such a way as in this two year process leading up to 
this first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society. With the 
green light given by the General Assembly Resolution (56/183) for a multi- 
stake holder approach, the door opened (at least a little bit) to what I 
call a new era in UN-civil society relations, in which governments, civil 
society, the private sector and intergovernmental organizations, -all in 
their respective roles – sit more equally together to define and negotiate 
our societies- knowledge and information societies- of tomorrow.'

Read the full statement here:
--> www.apcwomen.org/summit/news/index.shtml



Civil society representatives presented an 'alternative' declaration to the 
official Declaration at the WSIS.

APC reports:

"The civil society declaration has been written over a number of months 
based on inputs from a working group on 'content and themes' and the 
various regional and thematic working groups, known as caucuses and 
families. The final compilation was made over the past few weeks and was 
unanimously approved by the civil society plenary (civil society's 
decision-making forum in the WSIS process) on December 8.

Representatives from each regional caucus -including three speakers from 
APC and members in the Philippines and Brazil- outlined the regions' main 

Alice Munyua of APC's Africa ICT policy monitor initiative and African 
caucus representative highlighted the areas of human development and social 
justice, Africans' disappointment that a proposal made for a digital 
solidarity fund has not been included in the official Declaration, and 
emphasised that the right to communicate is a human right."

Read the APC report in full here:
--> www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=15946



Korean Progressive Network 'Jinbonet' launched an online Guide to Human
rights in the Information society on December 10th, 2003, the 55th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Jinbonet said in its introduction page that "In the Information Society,
human rights should be protected."

The guide goes on to state:

'Human rights are threatened in the information society. The government
seeking more efficient administration and the business pursuing greater
profits have tried to develop and introduce advanced information
technology to society time and again. But they do not seem to be
concerned about additional measures necessary to help remove unexpected
challenges coming up in transition to the Information Society against
protection of human rights. As a result, these days we can see many cases
in which free use of information is limited and people' right to privacy
is infringed.

The Information Society is not a separate world from what we live in now.
That is a society that we are building. "Human Rights in the Information
Society" means the human rights described in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and in the related international laws should still be
protected. Not only does HRIS serve the last safeguard to guarantee people
the fundamental freedoms and rights which seem to be easily threatened in
transition to this new form of society, the Information Society, but it
means our ongoing effort to make sure democracy and human rights are still
respected and pursued in the middle of and even after the Information

Read the guide at:
--> http://rights.jinbo.net/english



The APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) celebrated ten 
years of working to make ICTs accessible to women at the World Summit on 
the Information Society in Geneva.

The APC WNSP is a network of over 100 women from 36 countries who support 
women networking for social change and gender justice, through the use of 
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

WNSP works to transform these relations of inequality, with the full 
knowledge that ICTs can be used to either exacerbate or transform unequal 
power relations. Part of this recognition includes an awareness of the 
limits of ICTs - that in and of themselves, ICTs cannot create gender 
equality, or end poverty, but that they can be tools for social action and 
positive social change.

Read what friends and members have to say about WNSP's 10 years:
--> www.apcwomen.org/summit/anniversary/comments.shtml



Technology analyst Bill Thompson reports to the BBC:

"Outraged press releases and public statements from the representatives of 
civil society notwithstanding, the failure of WSIS to deal with any of the 
substantive issues it was originally set up to address seems to be passing 

The UK press has largely ignored it, and apart from a report on BBC World I 
have seen no substantial coverage on radio or TV.

Looking online, there is a lot of coverage in the developing world, a 
moderate degree of interest from the technical press, and almost none 

Part of the problem is that it is going to be very hard to track the 
outcome of the summit, or to monitor what happens between now and the 
second big meeting in Tunis in 2005.

The event itself is too complex, and the things happening at it are too 
numerous and short-lived to be directly observed. We need to look at it 
from another perspective if we are to understand what is happening. If we 
want to appreciate WSIS, I think we need to look at the interactions 
between people, and the traces the events of these three days in Geneva 
will leave in the organisations and individuals that are attending."

Read his full account on BBC news online at:

--> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3313087.stm



The Good

Civil Society Declaration
Great work all around assembling such an ambitious document, representing a 
diverse assemblage of views and vision of hundreds of groups of civil 
society. Kudos to Sally Burch and Bill McIver for guiding the process, all 
the drafting committee folks, and caucus and working groups for their input 
and refinements.

The Bad

WiFi / Internet Access
This was abyssmal how substandard our internet access was. We confess to 
being guilty of assuming that at the information society summit that we 
would have in place adequate information technology. WiFi barely worked, 
even after having to pay exhorbitant amounts for it. SMTP never worked, so 
sending email was impossible for most of us. The biggest scandal, though, 
was the fact that we had no free wireless access, as this had been the case 
at all the PrepComs.

The Ugly

Civil Society Speaker Selection
We had selected our speakers in a fairly transparent and democratic manner 
before the summit. Then somebody in the ITU just took the list and 
arbitrarily picked and dropped people. We neither know who took this 
decision, nor why. But it denied civil society its right to choose who 
speaks on its behalf and brings its points across. This was especially 
clear in the opening ceremony. The selected speaker from the World Blind 
Union was nice, but had not participated actively in overall civil society 
discussions and therefore did not make our points. She even had been under 
pressure from the ITU secretariat to include specific sentences in her 
speech. Oh, and by the way: This was even against the rules of procedure.

Read the full overview, 'How was the Summit', here:

--> www.worldsummit2003.de/en/web/577.htm



The Wainwright Trust, the equality and diversity charity, is calling
for nominations for the 2004 Breakthrough Award, with a closing date of
31 January 2004.

Information at www.wainwright.trust.btinternet.co.uk/apps_and_noms.htm
or David Bell on 01920 821698 or wainwright.trust at btinternet.com.

Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships

The Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund
provides fellowships for scholars whose lives and work are
threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit
scholars to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges
anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work
and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues,
and the community at large. Winter 2004 deadline: Applications received by 
January 1st, decision by March 1st.

Download the application:
--> www.iie.org/images/srf/2003_04_SRF_Deadlines_Application.pdf

The Digital Vision Fellowship Program at Stanford University is accepting 
applications for 2004-05 (September-June). The application deadline is 
March 1, 2004. Twelve Fellowships will be awarded on May 17, 2004.

First and foremost, Digital Vision Fellows are technologists with a hefty 
dose of social entrepreneurship. Successful candidates are professionals 
who wish to apply their skills to a humanitarian project, and program 
managers who are engaged in ICT projects in the developing world.
For additional information please click on the "Become a Fellow" at their 
--> http://reuters.stanford.edu/



Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) has just brought out a new
briefing entitled 'Your career and sustainable development'. It describes
an innovative approach that will help scientists and engineers incorporate
environmental and social considerations into their work.

The briefing can be downloaded from SGR's web-site at:

East Anglian 'EES' Strategy Co-ordinator
£27,000 pro rata (17.5 hours per week)
Closing Date: January 5th 2004

An opportunity for a dynamic individual to work within a partnership of 
LEAs, Teacher Training Institutions and Development Education Centres 
(DECs) in Essex, Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk on a DfID-funded 
(Department for International Development) 'Enabling Effective Support' 
strategy to develop support for the global dimension in education.

Global Witness have a number of jobs available:
- Independent Forest Monitoring Projects Manager
- US Oil campaigner
- Fundraising

Please visit their website for further details:
--> www.globalwitness.org



'It is time to face an uncomfortable truth: the accustomed model of 
development has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many. A path 
to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority behind in 
squalor will be a dead end
The world today needs to usher in a season of 
transformation, a season of stewardship.'

- Kofi Annan, 2002.




Monday, 19th
'Winning the GM debate'
2- 4 pm @ Assembly Chamber, City Hall, London SE12AA
Organised by the office of Noel Lynch in conjunction with the Institute of 
Science in Society (ISIS) and the Independent Science Panel (ISP)
Entry to the briefing is by list ONLY. To reserve your place on the list 
please contact Orla Hurst on 202 7983 4411 or e-mail:
--> orla.hurst at london.gov.uk

Wednesday, 28th
The Active Dads conference
- Aims to disseminate the findings of the thirty Active Dads partnership 
@ The Barbican
Details from Chantelle Peat at ContinYou on 024 7658 8449 or visit:
--> www.continyou.org.uk


Friday, 19th
BLOCK THE BASE - for one day, let’s disrupt the military machine
Part of an international weekend of action against US militarism
Non-violent blockade and demonstration
@ Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, Early!

For direct action training, speakers on star wars and Menwith Hill or to be 
a transport organiser for your area, contact Yorkshire CND.
Organised by Yorkshire CND - 01274 730795 - info at yorkshirecnd.org.uk

Saturday, 20th
Happy B/earthday Gaia! Earth Day 2004
Mary Ward Hall, 5 Tavistock Place, Tavistock Sq, London WC1
Spirit Matters and Resurgence Magazine present a day of Klezmer music, 
African drumming and dance, poetry, story-telling, talks, meditation, 
networking, Qi Gong, Yoga Chanting, B/earth day cake and more.
Admission  £ 10 (Concessions £5)
Tel: 0207-624-1123 Fax: 0207-624-1124, Email: spiritmatters at hotmail.com
--> www.spiritmatters.info

More Diary Dates on GreenNet:
--> www.gn.apc.org/calendar/calindex.shtml

Please add your events to the calendar here:
--> www.gn.apc.org/calendar/add.shtml


The AlterNet News is edited by Joanne Doyle for GreenNet:
---> www.gn.apc.org

Please note that opinions expressed in AlterNet are those of the
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