24 October 2003


Information Revolution Linked to Freedom, Transparency,

Says Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information

NEW YORK, 23 October (UN Headquarters) -- The upcoming Geneva meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December must seek effective solutions to bridge the ever-widening digital divide between those with high-tech infrastructure and those without, the representative of the Republic of Korea told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this morning as it continued its debate on macroeconomic policy questions.

He said that while information and communication technologies were among the most effective instruments for boosting productivity, economic growth and ultimately the overall development of developing countries, their benefits remained out of reach for many people worldwide.  The World Summit’s draft Declaration of Principles addressed those challenges and its draft Plan of Action -- which addressed Internet governance and the right of access information, among other things -- could serve as a blueprint for the eventual creation of a global information society.

Similarly, Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, said that information and communication technology was not an end in itself, but a means to supply content, create awareness and foster development.  Timely access to news and information could promote trade, education, health, and wealth and the Summit would be the first gathering to address global information communication technology issues at the highest governmental levels.

Emphasizing the importance of protecting and enhancing press freedom, including the electronic press, he said the information revolution was infinitely linked to political freedom, global competitiveness and global transparency, and it was incumbent upon governments to allow for information access and technology sharing in order to improve information infrastructure.  The United Nations Department of Public Information, in collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union and the Swiss Government, would hold a forum in December to discuss the role of electronic media and affirm the principles of press freedom.

Switzerland’s representative outlined several other events to be hosted by the Swiss Government in conjunction with the World Summit, including an Information and Communication Technologies for Development Platform. 

It would comprise an exhibition on how technology, from transistor radios to high-tech computer systems, could be used to reduce poverty and promote development.  He pointed out, however, that despite the progress made, the Summit’s draft Declaration of Principles still lacked a strong focus on poverty, the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the role of information communication technologies and the private sector in the creation of jobs and wealth.

Several speakers urged the international community to expedite the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, which resulted from the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries, with the aim of reducing transport costs for landlocked and transit developing countries, and integrating them into the regional and international economies.  A number of delegates deplored the lack in many developing countries of biotechnology and information communication technologies, which were desperately needed for economic growth, poverty-eradication and development.

Other speakers making statements today included the representatives of Benin, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries), Algeria, Mongolia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Israel, Mali, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Burundi, Mexico, Paraguay and Lebanon.

A representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also spoke.

The Second Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. for a panel discussion on “Microcredit, Poverty Eradication and the Empowerment of Women” organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue its consideration of macroeconomic policy questions.

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