Press Releases

    Background Release

    14 June 2002

    General Assembly to Discuss Information and Communication Technologies at Headquarters 17-18 June

    NEW YORK, 13 June (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly will meet in three plenary sessions to consider information and communication technologies for development on 17 and 18 June. There will also be two informal panels consisting of prominent experts and civil society representatives, including from the private sector, will be held during the plenary session.

    The meeting, called for in Assembly resolution 56/258, will address the digital divide in the context of globalization and development, in order to promote coherence and synergy between various regional and international initiatives on information and communication technology.

    The theme for the 17 June informal panel will be: "How can information and communication technologies (ICT) address the digital divide to leverage development to meet the Millennium Summit goals building on public-private multi-stakeholder partnerships for promoting digital opportunity?" Sub-themes will be: e-government; e-commerce; distance education; human resource development.

    The theme for 18 June will be: "The United Nations role in supporting efforts to promote digital opportunity, in particular in Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs): challenge of inclusion in the world economy through ICT". Sub-themes will be: infrastructure development; improving connectivity; promoting access to the information society; human capacity building.

    Among the Organization's ICT initiatives is the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies Task Force (UNICTTF), which was established by the Economic and Social Council on request of the Secretary-General. The objective of the Task Force is to "provide overall leadership to the United Nations role in helping to formulate strategies for the development of ICT and putting those technologies in the service of development through forging a strategic partnership between the United Nations system, private industry, programme countries and other relevant stakeholders".

    The broad theme of globalization and its challenges was addressed in a high-level dialogue during the fifty-third session of the Assembly, according to a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/381). At its fifty-fourth session, the Assembly, in resolution 54/231, expressed concern over globalization and its impact, in particular over the generally widening technological gap (the "digital divide") between the developed and developing countries in the area of ITC.

    In the Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2), heads of State and government resolved to ensure that the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication technologies, would be available to all.

    The Assembly meeting on ITC is also meant to assist governments and all relevant partners in their preparations for the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in December 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, and in December 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia. That summit meeting, on the proposal of the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and endorsed by Assembly resolution A/Res/56/183, will address the broad range of questions concerning the Information Society and move towards a common vision and understanding of that societal transformation.

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