Non-Aligned Movement has stressed the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and has reiterated calls for a people-centric, inclusive, and development-oriented Information Society. In this context, the Movement has called for the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
WSIS, a two-phase UN Summit, was initiated with the objective of addressing the digital divide, to create an evolving multi- stakeholder platform aimed at addressing the issues raised by information and communication technologies (ICTs) through a structured and inclusive approach at the national, regional and international levels, and to achieve a common vision, desire and commitment to build a people-centric, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information. The first phase of the Summit was held in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003 and the second phases of WSIS was held in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005. Initially, WSIS aimed to harness the potential of knowledge and technology to promote the development goals of the Millennium Declaration but it’s scope was subsequently widened to subjects related to communication and other public policy issues such as freedom of speech and privacy. The conferences also established 17 May as World Information Society Day.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly held an Overall Review of the Implementation of the Outcomes of WSIS and subsequently adopted Resolution 70/125. In accordance with the Resolution 70/125, Non-Aligned Movement envisages an information society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In order to address the digital divide, NAM has stressed the importance of effective participation of equitable and effective representation from developing countries in the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS process.
NAM has also reaffirmed towards realizing the goals set in the Tunis Commitment. Thus, NAM recognizes the principles of universal and non-discriminatory access to ICTs for all nations, the need to take into account the level of social and economic development of each country and need to respect the development-oriented aspects of the Information Society.
In accordance with the Tunis Agenda, NAM further believes that ICTs are effective tools to promote peace, security and stability, to enhance democracy, social cohesion, good governance and the rule of law at national, regional and international levels. ICTs can be used to promote economic growth and enterprise development.
Infrastructure development, human capacity building, information security and network security are critical to achieve these goals and thus NAM recognizes the need to effectively confront challenges and threats resulting from use of ICTs for purposes that are inconsistent with objectives of maintaining international stability and security and may adversely affect the integrity of the infrastructure within States, to the detriment of their security.
NAM has also called for preventing the abuse of information resources and technologies for criminal and terrorist purposes, while respecting human rights.
NAM has also reaffirmed the central role of the UN General Assembly in the overall review of the outcomes of WSIS. The 18th NAM Ministerial Summit held at Baku in April 2018 reaffirmed the centrality of the United Nations General Assembly and also acknowledged that overall review by the UNGA shall take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, address potential ICT gaps and areas for continued focus, as well as address challenges, including bridging the digital divide, and harness information and communications technologies for development.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur