14 April 2005

In Message to ICT Task Force Meeting in Dublin, Secretary-General Stresses Importance of ICT ‘To Help Unlock the Door to Education’

NEW YORK, 13 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the eighth meeting of the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Task Force, in Dublin, 13-14 April, delivered by José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs:

I send my greetings to all participants in the eighth meeting of the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies Task Force.

Last month, in my report “In larger freedom”, I proposed to the Member States of the United Nations an agenda for far-reaching policy commitments and institutional reforms in development, security and human rights. That agenda will be before world leaders in September, when they meet at a summit in New York to review progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration.

The cause of development occupies pride of place in my proposals -- in particular, the need for urgent action in 2005 to ensure that our world starts to make real progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and achieves them by 2015.

To achieve the goals, we must harness the potential of ICT. The September summit, and the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society to be held in November in Tunis, give us opportunities to make vital progress in doing so. In 2005, we must fully integrate the global ICT agenda into the broader UN development agenda. And we must ensure strategic coherence in implementing the decisions taken at these important meetings.

We also need to improve the use of ICT within the UN itself, so that the Organization’s collective mindset and methods of work are brought fully into the digital age.

I thank the Task Force for its work, in which governments, civil society and the private sector have come together to forge a common approach. And I warmly welcome the attention that this meeting is giving to education. One of the Millennium Development Goals is achievement of universal primary education by 2015. We must ensure that ICT is used to help unlock the door to education, whether for young girls in Afghanistan, university students in Uganda, or workers in Brazil, so that they can fully seize economic opportunities, and live lives of dignity, free from want.

It is encouraging to know that Ireland and other Task Force members, in spearheading the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative, have taken action to put ICT at the service of education in developing countries. We need to do much more work along these lines, and we need to be creative and ambitious. Let us, therefore, use 2005 to think and act urgently and boldly to ensure that ICT is used to advance education and development. In that spirit, I wish you every success for this important meeting.

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