19 September 2003


Students and Educators Will Examine how Information Society
Impacts Human Rights Declaration


(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 18 September -- The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, 10-12 December, will bring together educators who manage school networks from over 40 countries to harness the potential that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play in preparing students for a knowledge-based information society.  In preparation for the World Summit, students around the world are invited to participate in the World Summit Event for Schools, a series of online activities that offer an opportunity to examine the relationship between ICTs and human rights.

Students will explore the impact of information and communication technologies on the right to give and receive information, as well as the right to education as described in article 19 and article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The World Summit Event for Schools, co-organized by the United Nations Cyberschoolbus and the European Schoolnet, will culminate with a live, online interaction between students and a head of State on 11 December 2003 -- one day after the fifth-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  To take part in these activities, teachers must register at


Following this event, educators from around the world will gather at the WSIS on 12 December to lay the foundation for a global alliance of ICT school networks, linking millions of students.  These educators will discuss how these educational networks can be used to help promote cross-cultural understanding and serve as a resource for local community development projects.

“The alliance of ICT educational networks formed at the Summit will play a key role in helping governments achieve the goal of creating an information society that benefits all”, says Bill Yotive, Project Manager of the United Nations Global Teaching and Learning Project.

The meeting of educators at the Summit in Geneva this December will give a boost to these developing infrastructures and will help establish greater communication, coordination, and assistance between the school networks.


“The Summit offers a unique opportunity to strengthen a relatively new infrastructure that is being built to connect schools through the Internet”, added Mr. Yotive.

“At the Summit, we will discuss how building an infrastructure is just the beginning of developing ICT in education, and that basic services should be accessible by all, no matter where they are or what background they come from.  We are particularly looking forward to creating an international community of young people, who are learning, exploring, and sharing their thoughts about the crucial

issues of democracy, human rights and access to information and technology”, says Brigitte Parry, European Schoolnet Networks Manager.

In addition to this initiative, a WSIS Poster Competition has been launched by the UN Cyberschoolbus in preparation for the Summit.  The competition will offer students (ages 9 and up) from around the world an opportunity to convey their vision on how ICTs can create an information society for all.  Entry forms can be obtained at


Students can choose from six different themes, all of which focused on finding innovative ways to bridge the “digital divide” -- the growing gap between countries that have access to information and communication technologies and those that do not.

About the United Nations Cyberschoolbus

The United Nations Cyberschoolbus (www.cyberschoolbus.un.org) is an online education component whose mission is to promote education about international issues and the United Nations.  The primary goals of this project are to build a global online community where teachers and students can share, provide opportunities for students to participate in finding solutions to global problems, and to make the issues the United Nations deals with more accessible to children and youth. The UN Cyberschoolbus is part of the Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division.

About European Schoolnet

European Schoolnet (www.eun.org) is a unique international partnership of  26 ministries of education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe and beyond.  It provides insight into the use of ICT (information and communications technology) in Europe for policy-makers and education professionals.  This goal is achieved through communication and information exchange at all levels of school education using innovative technologies, and by acting as a gateway to national and regional school networks.

About WSIS

The World Summit on the Information Society provides a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to develop a common vision and understanding and to address the whole range of relevant issues related to the information society.

It aims to bring together heads of State, executive heads of the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society entities, industry leaders and media representatives to foster a clear statement of political will and concrete plan of action to shape the future of the global information society and to promote the urgently needed access of all countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies for development.

The Summit has been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly and will take place under the high patronage of Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, with the International Telecommunication Union taking the lead role in its preparation.

The Summit will be held in two phases:  Geneva (10-12 December 2003) and Tunisia (16-18 November 2005).

For further information, please call: +41 22 730 6373; fax: +41 22 730 6393; e-mail: wsismedia@itu.int; or Web site: http://www.itu.int/wsis/newsroom/.

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