by Danielle Mincio and Peter Lor

The summits in Geneva and Tunis are behind us, but the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is being actively followed up. The main thrust of the follow-up work concerns the eleven action lines described in the Geneva Plan of action (WSIS 2003). For each action line a United Nations organisation (e.g. ITU or UNESCO) has been appointed as a "facilitator" or "moderator", with an individual being designated as the "focal point". Starting in 2006, various "facilitation" and consultation meetings have been taking place to set the follow-up activities in motion. A second series of meetings took place in May 2007.

IFLA has been participating in these meetings to make sure that libraries and their users remain on the agenda. Members of the Swiss Librarians for International Relations and IFLA Secretary General Peter Lor attended the most important and relevant of the meetings that took place in Geneva from 14 to 25 May.

Here are some important outcomes and recommendations arising from these meetings.

  • IFLA participated actively in the meeting of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), and the IFLA representative participated in the panel discussion. An implication of the discussions is that libraries must be more open to the needs of their users.
  • Because libraries are at the heart of information society it is important that IFLA, which is already on the Agency Roster of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) obtains full Consultative Status in ECOSOC.
  • Even though this is less important than in the first phases of WSIS, IFLA must try to be in the Governing Board of the CONGO (Organisation of the civil society for the UN bodies).
  • IFLA has been appointed as the moderator of the sub-theme "Libraries and Archives" of action line C 3, Access to information and knowledge, which is facilitated by UNESCO. The Success Stories Database must be expanded.
  • IFLA has provisionally been appointed as the moderator of the sub-theme "Heritage" of action line C8, Cultural diversity, which is facilitated by UNESCO. IFLA's PAC core activity needs to become part of the network. In this field, IFLA must try also work with the Maya network for the promotion of oral languages on Internet created by Adama Samassekou this year
  • IFLA must be present in action line C7 e-Science, where the question of free access to the scientific publications is a major theme.
  • IFLA must follow the Internet Governance Forum more closely, paying attention to the question of domain names in all languages and characters and the question of restrictions on access.
  • IFLA must try to disseminate information about its AIDS project in Africa better and ensure that it is fed into the WSIS mechanism through action line C7 e-Health.

The rate of progress varies from action line to action line. Action line C3 is the most advanced. UNESCO's action lines are using discussion lists and annual or bi-annual meetings. Towards the end of the year UNESCO's planned online collaborative system should be up and running and available for the work of the various sub-themes.