A couple of days ago, civil society groups finally finished drafting of a huge omnibus statement on the WSIS. Full text of the statement can be found here.
In principle I have no problem with the idea of civil society groups coming out with a statement in response to the World Summit on the Information Society. I think its a grand idea to make clear what we are happy with and what we thought went wrong. I’ve helped draft many of these kinds of declarations in the past.
But I have to question the timing of it. It’s almost exactly four weeks after the WSIS completed in Tunis on November 18. The governments and UN and international press have all moved on to other, more pressing matters. And its holiday time, so everyone’s attention is already quite limited.
The possible impact of such a civil society statement is almost nil.
Perhaps this is useful to have just for ourselves, to show that we can agree on some basic principles and goals and ideas. A last act of solidarity.But we’re kidding ourselves if we think anyone is actually going to read the thing.
I argued strongly in Tunis that what we needed was a short, principled, one to two page statement from civil society. The kind of thing that could have been drafted overnight over beers on November 17 and released to the press on November 18. The kind of document that 300 organizations could easily endorse by glancing at it, even if it had to be quickly summarized in French and Spanish.
But the drafters had other ideas.
Instead we have a gargantuan 15-page tome that will take a week to complete translate into French and Spanish and that will need to be read carefully by groups all over the world to see if they can endorse it. We’ll be lucky if a final endorsed version is available before the end of the year.
Anyway, congrats to Ralf Bendrath, Karen Banks, and others who were instrumental in this statement.