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FEBRUARY 25, 2003
10:15 AM
CONTACT: International Trade Union Confederation (ICFTU)
Louis Belanger, E-mail:

Global Unions Accuse Governments Over Exclusion of Public Voices in Policy Debate at UN Summit

BRUSSELS/GENEVA - February 25, 2003 - Members of the Global Unions group* today accused the government planners of the Second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on the Information Society(WSIS) of "stifling voices of dissent" after having excluded civil society from the debate over the draft conclusions.

Governments have voted to keep non-governmental groups and civil society activities out of discussions now being held on a draft declaration and plan of action for the summit which is due to be held in Geneva in December.

"This decision makes a mockery of the principles of democracy, inclusion and open government on which policy for the information society should be framed," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which is part of Global Unions. "People are rightly shocked that a conference which plans to shape information policy for generations to come will have its agenda decided behind closed doors."

Stifling voices of dissent is no answer to the challenge of open and honest discussion about communications policy. The summit is supposed to be a tripartite process bringing together voices from the community, from the business world and from government, but now politicians have decided to go it alone, raising the fear that all the talk about inclusion was little more than window dressing.

Global Unions is joining widespread protests over the exclusion of civil society from the drafting process at this week's conference in Geneva which is the second of three planned preparatory meetings to fix the agenda before the summit opens in Geneva on December 10th.

The summit, which is being organised by a range of UN agencies led by the International Telecommunications Union, will consider world-wide policy and regulation issues arising from the introduction of new communications technologies, use of the Internet and the expansion of the global information market. A follow up conference is to be held in Tunis in 2005.

"There is a long way to go before policies are finalised," said White, "but if governments are going to shut out public opinions from the outset it will be a flawed and damaged exercises which will undermine confidence in the future of the information society."

Letter from ICFTU to President of WSIS Preparatory Committee:

For more information on Global Unions participation in the WSIS, see:

The Global Unions group includes the ICFTU, the Global Union Federations(GUFs) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD; The Global Union Federations comprise UNI, IFBWW, IUF, IMF, PSI, EI, ITGLWF, IFJ, ITF, ICEM and IAEA.

The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:


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