Ecosoc: Statement by the EU Presidency on the implementation of the WSIS outcomes

(Geneva, 3-28 July 2006)

Coordination segment

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Report of the Secretary-General on the modalities of the inter-agency coordination of the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes including recommendations on the follow-up process (item 6)

Geneva, 10 July 2006

Check against delivery

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and the Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania.

1.  EU wishes to thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his report on the modalities of the inter-agency coordination of the implementation of WSIS and for his recommendations on the follow-up process. We commend him for the actions he has already taken in response to the Tunis Agenda for Information Society, in particular, establishing the UN Group on Information Society and convening the Internet Governance Forum, initiating the first steps of a process leading to enhanced cooperation on Internet Governance.

2.  In his report, the Secretary-General points out the distinction made in the WSIS outcomes between the implementation for which primary responsibility rests on all stakeholders, and the follow-up which entails review of progress on WSIS issues and policy debate at the international level. This distinction should be borne in mind in our deliberations e.g. in discussing the role of the CSTD; in order to avoid duplication and unnecessarily complicated structures.

3.  The EU relies on the UN system as the backbone of the overall co-ordination of the implementation by and with UN agencies and of the system-wide follow-up of the WSIS outcomes. We highlight the role to be played by the UN Group on the Information Society, established within the framework of the Chief Executives Board for coordination of the United Nations system CEB, as the focal point for inter-agency coordination of implementation and the roles that ECOSOC and the CSTD will assume in the system-wide follow up. The EU is therefore pleased to associate itself with the Secretary-General´s recommendations 19 and 20.

4. WSIS has to be placed in the broader context of internationally agreed development goals, including MDGs, in both implementation and follow-up. Therefore, we support the Secretary-General´s recommendations 22 and 23 with the view of strengthening linkages between the implementation and follow-up of WSIS and the outcomes of other UN conferences and summits, in accordance with GA resolution 50/270B.

5. Concerning recommendation 33, the EU supports the Secretary General's suggestion that in its review of the CSTD and in formulating its new WSIS-related functions, ECOSOC would consider the body of practice developed over the years for the other functional commissions of ECOSOC that serve as focal points for other major UN conferences and summits. In particular, their experience in engaging non-state stakeholders in their work should be studied and further developed, notably within the CSTD.

6. Concerning recommendation 34, the EU supports the suggestion that the CSTD would undertake thematic reviews of follow-up of WSIS outcomes. The EU would advise caution in burdening the CSTD with functions that belong to the implementation rather than the follow-up of WSIS outcomes. The EU supports the suggestion that the CSTD would be strengthened so that it would be better equipped for its new tasks. By strengthening we understand, first of all, that the composition of its member delegations would be made to reflect its new, information society-related tasks, that its secretariat could be reinforced by help from other agencies that have played a substantial role in the WSIS process, and that multi-stakeholder participation be ensured and promoted. The EU also supports recommendation 35 and reminds that significant input from the regional level should be encouraged and incorporated in the overall assessment of the implementation in order to achieve the follow-up.

7. The EU stresses the unique multi-stakeholder character of WSIS and applauds the intention to mainstream that approach to all levels of implementation and follow up. We thank all those UN bodies that have helped to facilitate the implementation of the Tunis outcomes and for their efforts to involve all stakeholders in that work.

8. The EU takes note of the recent launching of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development and of its potential as a tool for dialogue, coordination and advocacy. According to the Secretary-General’s report, the Global Alliance for ICT and Development will provide an inclusive multistakeholder global platform and forum for policy dialogue on the use of ICT for advancing the achievement of internationally agreed development goals. With this in mind, the EU notes the need for reflection on CSTD´s relationship with the Global Alliance. However, the Global Alliance cannot be a substitute for effective multi-stakeholder participation nor for agreed mechanisms in implementation and follow-up throughout the UN system.

9. As to the Internet Governance Forum, the preparations for its organization are on the right track. The EU will actively engage in the final preparations as well as participation in the forum itself. In particular, we welcome the Greek Government’s expeditious preparations for the IGF inaugural meeting to be held in Athens from 30 October to 2 November 2006. We also look forward to the results of the consultations conducted on how to start the process towards enhanced cooperation by the Secretary-General’s special advisor.

10. To conclude, Mr President, WSIS has left us a valuable legacy that we must not squander. We can and must use it to harness the potential of ICTs to enable people everywhere to build people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented information societies, by the joint efforts of governments, civil society and private sector. The EU is committed to continue its support to the WSIS process and to work, together with all stakeholders, for the attainment of WSIS objectives.

Thank You, Mr. President.