03.10.2002 -

Meeting in Rio Discussed Latin-American/Caribbean Position for WSIS

The Information Society must be based on the fundamental rights of access to information and to communication and freedom of expression said the participants of an Latin American /Caribbean conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week.

The International Forum: Latin American and the Caribbean in the Information Society that was attended by more than 150 participants representatives of governments, NGOs and national and regional associations from 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries, was to plot the region's participation in the Information Society and develop its position for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).


The results will be presented to the WSIS intergovernmental PrepCom for Latin America and the Caribbean that will take place in January in the Dominican Republic and also to the second meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank's Development Committee that will take place in Washington, D.C. 11-12 November and which emphasize the implementation of activities in information and communication technologies.


The participants stressed that the principal development objectives of ICTs must be the well-being not only of individuals but the community at large and must promote not only economic growth and employment but also reduction of poverty and social equity. They also underscored the importance of strengthening institutional capacities in the region, promoting innovation and a spirit of entrepreneurship in the development of ITCs, as well as the need for developing human capacities through basic and higher education.


The forum emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in the areas of infrastructure development, the sharing of knowledge, production of content and the development of digital services. The participants also agreed that ICTs must promote democratic participation, efficiency and transparency in government, the widest possible participation in public services and should also contribute to the improvement of education and health.


The participants also stated that the Information Society must be based on guaranteeing all citizens the fundamental rights of access to information and to communication and freedom of expression. To this end, the participants said special attention must be paid to promoting the participation in the Information Society of isolated and rural communities, as well as other marginalized groups and promote both multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism.


The Forum was closed by Brazil's Minister for Science and Technology, Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, who shared the dais with Rogelio Pardo Evans, Minister of Costa Rica for Science and Technology, and Orlando Jorge Mera, Secretary of State and President of INDOTEL, from the Dominican Republic. Minister Sardenberg noted that the goal of the information society is "not just about empowering individuals but building communities of citizens who are able to control effectively the technologies." The role of government, he added, is to develop the opportunities for the creation of this "citizen base" of ICT users.


The Rio conference was jointly organized and sponsored by the UNESCO Regional Office for Communication and Information for Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNESCO Office in Brasilia, the UN ICT Task Force, the Brazilian Ministry for Science and Technology, the Brazilian Programme for the Information Society and the government of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.

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