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U.N. Report on Bridging Digital Divide

U.N. Report on Bridging Digital Divide

New UN Report Outlines Strategy for task Force Aimed at Bridging "Digital Divide". Efforts recommended to engage all in information revolution. Source: Washington File (ESX506), U.S. Department of State (UN Newservice, New York), Washington D.C., February 23, 2001.

A United Nations advisory panel issued new recommendations February 22 on how to help the world's developing nations join the information revolution, according to a U.N. press release.

The report suggests formation of a special Task Force to help form partnerships between developing nations, international organizations and private companies to accelerate the expansion of information technologies.

The report says an effort to incorporate information technologies in developing countries is "an extraordinary opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of the vast majority of people on the planet."

Following is the text of the U.N. press release. (begin text)

UN NEWSERVICE, Thursday, February 22, 2001

New UN Report Outlines Strategy for task Force Aimed at Bridging "Digital Divide"

22 February - A high-level panel led by the former President of Costa Rica today issued a strategy for the proposed United Nations Task Force on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) which aims to bridge the "digital divide."

Former President José Maria Figueres-Olsen, who led an advisory panel on ICT, today presented a report on the strategy to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is expected to make recommendations on the constitution of the Task Force to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) next month.

"The challenge before us is to enable the currently excluded 4 billion of the world's population to participate in and benefit from the information revolution," states the report. It notes that harnessing the potential of ICT for development, the reduction of poverty and the empowerment of those who are currently marginalized is a "monumental" challenge. "At the same time, it is an extraordinary opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of the vast majority of people on the planet."

The report envisages the Task Force as a means to forge strategic partnerships between the UN, private industry, foundations, donor governments, countries and other interested players on the international scene. The new body would be mandated to develop innovative modalities for strengthening the ICT capacity of developing countries, and should mobilize resources towards that end through voluntary contributions.

The report emphasizes that industry must be engaged in efforts to bridge the digital divide. "The private sector can play a key role by developing the business models and technology innovations to reach poor people for wealth creation," it states.

In order to bring all players into the effort, the proposal calls for constituting the 37-member Task Force with 18 representatives of Member States, eight representatives from the private sector, four representatives from the non-profit sector, including academia and non-governmental organizations, and six representatives of the United Nations system, with the President of ECOSOC serving on the body as well.

The high-level panel recommends that the Task Force be given a three-year mandate "in view of the rapidly changing circumstances under which ICT operates." The report proposes that the Task Force meet no more than twice a year for 2-3 days, and that it report annually to the Secretary-General.

(end text)


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).