Note to Correspondents

Note No. 5696
15 November 2001


NEW YORK, 14 November (UN Headquarters) -- A United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force, set up to build broad-based partnerships and find creative means to spread the benefits of the digital revolution, will be officially launched at Headquarters on Tuesday, 20 November from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber.

The launch will be opened by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Speakers will include General Assembly President Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea); ECOSOC President Martin Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon); and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on ICT, José María Figueres Olsen, former President of Costa Rica and a leader of digital development in his country. Mr. Figueres, who was appointed in November 2000, will also be a guest at that day’s noon briefing by the Secretary-General’s Spokesman.

Mr. Annan's opening statement will be followed by the launch of the Task Force Web site and Portal and the lighting of the IT Globe, a state-of-the-art technology that uses high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery to deliver a streaming, three dimensional map of the world.

The ICT Task Force was established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to spread the benefits of the digital revolution -- from which four billion of the world's people are currently excluded -- and overcome the current two-tiered world information society. The members of the Task Force come from the public and private sectors, from civil society and the scientific community, and from leaders of the developing world, as well as the most technologically advanced countries. Operating under the aegis of the United Nations, the Task Force is well positioned to build strategic partnerships and to link up diverse efforts.

The Task Force is an innovative body in many ways. It is not an operational or executing agency. For the execution of programmes and projects that it will decide to promote, it will identify appropriate entities, as well as facilitate connections among interested partners. At its first meeting on 19 November, the Task Force is expected to approve its plan of action, its secretariat and core budget, as well as its chairperson and bureau. The Task Force has a three-year mandate.

The impetus for the Task Force derives from an April 2000 meeting of independent experts from industry, academia, civil society and government convened by the United Nations to discuss the links between information technologies and development. Intergovernmental authorization came in July, in a ministerial declaration issued by ECOSOC. The Task Force objectives found further support in the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 and in the ensuing Millennium Declaration.

The mission of the Task force will be to:

-- Help harness the power of information and communication technology for advancing the internationally agreed development goals of the Millennium Declaration;

-- Provide a global forum for ICT-for-development related issues and for policy issues related to the digital revolution, facilitating the participation of all countries in decision-making;

-- Enhance synergies among United Nations agencies, foster cooperation among the many current and emerging initiatives, and assist countries in developing national ITC-for-development strategies;

-- Support partnerships of public, private, non-profit, civil society and multilateral actors to advance the global effort to bridge the digital divide;

-- Stimulate initiatives promoting the deployment and transfer of ICT-for-development; and

-- Mobilize, coordinate and link existing and new public and private resources to address the issues of connectivity, capacity and content, in order to promote universal and affordable access to ICT. Special attention will be given to poverty eradication, the least developed countries and Africa.

Please visit the ICT Task Force Web site, to be launched on 20 November, at:

For the live Webcast of the event, please see

For further information on the ICT Task Force, please contact Sarbuland Khan, Director, Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, Tel: (212) 963-4628; e-mail:; or Edoardo Bellando, Tel: (212) 963-8275, e-mail:; and Ellen McGuffie, Tel: (212) 963-0499, e-mail:, Development and Human Rights Section, United Nations Department of Public Information.

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