In the accustomed UN manner, talks are moved forward by everyone agreeing to do nothing about anything:
- Rich and poor countries have settled most of the key disputes that had threatened to derail this week’s United Nations digital divide summit.
After two days of talks in Geneva, negotiators reached deals on human rights and managing the internet.
But they are still at odds over how to help expand net access for the poor.
Around 60 heads of state, business leaders and community delegates are expected in Geneva for the three-day summit which starts on Wednesday.
The aim of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is to come up with a global plan to ensure everyone has access to information and communications technologies.
….The first phase is due to be held in Geneva between 10-12 December, marking the culmination of months of detailed planning and preparatory meetings.
….One of the main issues had been the question of human rights and free speech.
….The compromise reached includes the commitment to press freedom enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The negotiators also managed to find a compromise on the question of who should administer the internet.
….Negotiators side-stepped their differences by putting the issue on the back-burner. They agreed to set up a UN group to study new ways of running the internet which would report back in 2005 at a second summit in Tunisia.
….African countries, led by Senegal, have been pushing for a special international fund to finance technology projects in the developing world.
….One of the compromise ideas being put forward is to agree on looking into the idea of a special fund, without making any firm commitments to its establishment. [BBC]
Is “engagement” better than unilateral action? Does the need to to find consensus preclude anything from really happening? Does it make sense for countries with essentially 19th century technology to jump to the 21st? Are the guilt-based demands of the third world upon the first reasonable?
About the only thing I can think of that isn’t in dispute: it is to the advantage of the developed world to help as many people as possible have access to the Internet in terms of encouraging trade and the free exchange of information and ideas.