13 November 2003


GENEVA, 11 November (ITU) -- Fifty-six heads of State or government, have so far committed to participate in the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva (10-12 December 2003) with more than 6,000 delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and the media.

The Summit will endorse a Declaration of Principles for the Information Society and a plan of action to bring the benefits of information and communications technologies for social and economic development to people in all parts of the world.  The World Summit on the Information Society is being held under the patronage of Secretary General Kofi Annan and is being organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications.

“The commitment of so many heads to participate in the Summit is very important, as it will be the first opportunity to address in a global forum and at the highest political level the challenges that lie ahead in the Information Society”, said ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi.  “There have been many benefits in the explosive development of information and communication technologies, especially in terms of creating jobs and wealth, but it is also raising legitimate concerns, such as ensuring access to information and communication technology, while preserving fundamental freedoms and human rights, security and privacy”.  The World Summit will address some of these concerns by establishing a common understanding about how to capitalize on the opportunities, while addressing the challenges of the information society.

“As information and communication technologies become more important in all aspects of our lives, it is important that no one should be left behind”, added Mr Utsumi.  The draft action plan of the Summit proposes a commitment to connect all of the world’s villages with information and communication technologies by 2015, and to connect at least half the world’s inhabitants by that date.

The countries whose heads of State or government will participate in the World Summit include, in addition to the host countries of Switzerland and Tunisia: Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Jordan, Korea (Republic of), Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Spain, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Ukraine, Zimbabwe.

Contact: wsismedia@itu.int or phone:  +41 22 730 6048.  For media accreditation to the Summit, consult www.itu.int/wsis/newsroom/accreditation/. For background information on the Summit, consult www.itu.int/wsis/newsroom/background.

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