Yesterday, Iranian human rights activist Ms. Shirin Ebadi addressed the opening ceremony of the WSIS on behalf of civil society. It was a moving moment for many of us.
The text of Shirin Ebadi’s speech in French can be found on the WSIS website. Among the main points of her speech:
- She drew attention to the importance of civil society at the UN, particularly civil society from governments that don’t respect the will of their own peoples.
- She noted that some governments create their own “NGOs” to put out false information about the government.
- She drew a link between the enormously high military budgets of governments and their enormous development needs, including ICT development, that could easily be met by a reduction in military spending.
- She alluded to the control of the US government of the current Internet Governance structures, i.e. ICANN, noting that it was a difficult situation when one government could for political reasons cut off access to the internet to others around the world.
- Finally she observed that “some governments” prevent access to certain information on the Internet, and repress journalists and others who disseminate certain information.
- She called for the creation of a new UN commission on internet censorship, with the participation of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, the ITU, UNDP and NGOs.
It was a powerful moment at the summit for civil society.