What is the World Summit of the Information Society?

What is WSIS?

The World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) is a two phase UN Conference that defined the issues, policies and frameworks to tackle the Information and Communication technologies to foster development.

The first phase of the Summit was held in Geneva in 2003 and concluded with a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action identifying specific action lines to advance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The second phase of the Summit was held in Tunis in 2005. It reaffirmed commitment to the Declaration of Principles and designed an implementation mechanism for the 11 Action Lines. In both phases IFLA contributed to the drafting of key documents and advocated for the role of libraries as key providers of access to the Internet and protectors of cultural heritage in the Information Society. This was recognized in the Tunis Agenda , which outlined the importance of supporting libraries in their public-service role of providing free and equitable access to information and of improving ICT literacy and community connectivity, particularly in underserved communities.

In the implementation of the WSIS Process IFLA is the moderator of two WSIS sub-themes, one in Action Line C3 (Access to information) relating to ‘Libraries and Archives’ and the other in Action Line C8 (Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content) relating to ‘Heritage’. This means IFLA is responsible for reporting back to UNESCO regarding the activities and progress of libraries in these areas in the WSIS context. 

IFLA continues to engage at the international level to define the policies and strategies to achieve the WSIS goals and build an inclusive information society. Through its participation in the WSIS+10 Review process and in the Internet Governance Forum IFLA argues that public access to the Internet is key for addressing the challenges of development and reaching the United Nations 2030 Agenda

What is the WSIS Forum?

The mechanism designed in Tunis called for a multistakeholder implementation of the Action Lines under the coordination of the leading UN Specialized Agencies.  To monitor the implementation process the leading agencies organized a yearly follow-up meeting. In 2009 this meeting was transformed into the WSIS Forum to provide more structured opportunities to network, learn and participate in multistakeholder discussions and consultations on WSIS implementation. Its format is the result of open consultations with all WSIS Stakeholders. The agenda and program of the WSIS Forum are built on the basis of official submissions received during an open consultation process.

What is the WSIS Review Process?

2013 marked the ten year land mark from the first phase of the WSIS Summit in Geneva. UNESCO, as one of the leading implementing UN Agencies along with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organised a first WSIS+10 review event with an analysis of trends and possible recommendations. UNESCO also launched a consultation on the recommendations that will be an integral part of the overall WSIS review process.

Outcomes will feed directly into the subsequent review meetings and into the overall review scheduled for the 2015 UN General Assembly. Results will also be reported to UNESCO’s Executive Board and to the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO (November 2015). IFLA wishes to ensure that public access to the information and the Internet is recognized a priority for the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda, and that libraries continue to be recognized as essential in providing access to information and cultural heritage in the information society. 

Last update: 22 October 2015