15 December 2003


(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

GENEVA, 12 December -- Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the Vice-Chairman of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force, today told the closing meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society that the Task Force should host the debate on Internet governance.

“As a Task Force member myself, I believe that the UN ICT Task Force, as the only multi-stakeholder entity on ICTs in the UN system, provides an excellent place to host the debate on this subject,” Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh said.

Speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Task Force, Jose Maria Figueres-Olsen, Mr. Ghazaleh provided input to Summit participants on the Swiss Government-World Economic Forum Executive Round Table, “Taking Responsibility in the Information Age”, held on 9 December on the occasion of the World Summit on the Information Society.

As a participant in the round table on “Internet Governance: Beyond the Impasse”, Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh reported that little consensus was achieved there, except on supporting the leadership of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the Working Group called for by the Plan of Action.

The Executive Round Table was chaired by Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation, and Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the meeting.

Attended by 40 leaders from government, business, civil society and the United Nations system, it resulted in consensus on the need for broad partnerships, action-oriented plans with resources, transparency and accountability, and converting challenges to opportunities.

Four round tables addressed the themes of “Internet Governance: Beyond the Impasse”; “Finding the Appropriate Technology Mix”; “Extracting Value from Globalization through ICT-enabled Services”; and “Connectivity for the Next Five Billion: Human Capacity Building and Public Access Points”.

President Couchepin recommended that the Working Group to be established on Internet governance should be less than 15 members, and emphasized the need to address the “what”, “how” and “why” of development.  The Secretary-General emphasized the need to focus on who would take responsibility for bringing the benefits of ICTs to the developing world.

Leading the discussion, James Rubin, the moderator, urged all participants to come out with “Take-aways”. Professor Schwab stressed the need “to reinvent development through multi-stakeholder partnerships”.

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