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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

African CSO writes IGF secretariat

Remmy Nweke

A network of African Civil Society Organisations (CSO) on the Information Society (ACSIS) has written an open letter to the Coordinator, Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) based in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Markus Kummer, regarding the participation of the civil society in the forthcoming Internet Governance Forum (IGF) later this month.

Entitled “Effective participation of Civil Society Organizations in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF),” ACSIS, while reiterating their support to the IGF and continued effort for its success, said that they have proven through all the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) processes and its commitment to contribute to the emergence of a sustainable information society.

ACSIS also advocated for favourable environment to an improved life and a sustainable economy for all citizens and communities.

They further noted that developing countries’ civil society and precisely the African civil society, participated actively in all the WSIS process despite difficulties.

“Hereby, we are reaffirming our commitment to contribute to the subsequent Internet Governance Forum processes,” the group said, just as they recalled the fundamental principles, that the various consultations related to IGF.

The network led by its President, Delphine Nana Mekounte noted this include that IGF activities should have an overall development orientation; capacity building to enable meaningful participation in global Internet policy development should be an overarching priority and meaningful participation as well as assistance to attend meetings and training in the subject matter of Internet governance.

“We would like to call your attention to the difficulties encountered by the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the Least Developed and Developing Countries and Africa in particular, in sourcing needed financial support to be physically present at meetings, (from the Advisory Committee meetings to the Athens and other related meetings),” Delphine informed.

The network recollected that, even though remote participation, when adequate facilities are provided for it, could still have some effectiveness, “it is limited and does not replace physical presence. The need for a viable support mechanism is especially crucial for CSOs and developing countries at this very beginning of the forum process.”

ACSIS said that the failure to find adequate solutions to this problem might seriously prevent, to an important extent meaningful participation from those stakeholders and will be contrarily to the WSIS and IGF stated principles. We also wish that practical procedures are also put in place for stakeholders to ensure their participation.

While expressing appreciation in advance, ACSIS said it’s expecting consideration of their proposals for an effective CSO and developing countries participation in the IGF billed for October 30 and November 2, this year in Athens, Greece.

The President also said that they are confident that IGF will find a relevant answer to those concerns, which may be through consultations with appropriate institutions such as African governments, development partners and United Nations (UN) institutions or any other suitable strategy.
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