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Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Government Statement on the Ten Year Review of the UN's World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)


Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 10, 2014

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Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, and respected colleagues, on behalf of the United States of America, thank you for organizing this High Level Event.

When the world gathered in Geneva and Tunis a decade ago, those there set forth principles and action lines for activity to encourage the development of a people centered information society. The growth of communications within and across borders has grown beyond what anyone could have imagined at that time, but the goal of an inclusive, people centered information society remains the same.

Building on the WSIS goals and what we have learned since those meetings, and applying a multistakeholder process for analysis and deliberation, the world again came together recently at NETmundial in Brazil. The event’s host and the majority of its participants made clear that fulfilling the goal of a people centered information society requires the full participation of all stakeholders. That event proved to me that governments alone need not control this conversation, and that in fact, we, as government officials, may have as much or more to learn than teach.

Ten years after Tunis, the evidence indicates that the community of people in industry, government, civil society, academia, and activists that live to expand access to communications has done an admirable job in implementing the WSIS vision. In particular, the private sector driven deployment of mobile communications and growing access to broadband Internet service are changing the world.

Nonetheless, much work remains to fully execute on the original WSIS mission and the action lines issued ten years ago.

As we consider our role beyond the WSIS ten year review, before considering new tasks and missions, we should complete those we have already set for ourselves. Before making new promises to the world, we must fulfill those we have already made.

As many have noted, the good news is that we are well on our way toward fulfilling our promise in one particular area – infrastructure. And we should redouble our efforts to make broadband access universal. According to the latest Millennium Development Goals Report, approximately 96% of the global population now has access to mobile cellular communications services. This remarkable achievement reflects the success of public/private cooperation, market and regulatory reforms, technological innovation, and a widespread commitment to fulfilling the WSIS outcomes on the part of major stakeholders and national, regional and multilateral organizations – including the ITU.

But despite the impressive gains in access to infrastructure and diffusion of telecommunications/ICTs, billions of people still lack any access to broadband services or lack access at affordable rates. And too many people still lack the capacity and freedom to make that access relevant to their lives.

We believe that the gap in access and capacity remain important issues before our community; they were addressed as such at the original WSIS meetings in 2003 and 2005, and we cannot afford to lose our focus on their overriding importance as we enter the WSIS+10 review. We also cannot afford to deny that the challenge of access, and the capacity of people to use that access as they wish, is disproportionately real for women and disenfranchised communities. Refusing to acknowledge that reality is in and of itself and obstacle to overcoming it.

These issues and challenges have been at the heart of our work in the Multistakeholder Preparatory Process, where all stakeholders have had the opportunity to review and propose updates to how we move forward to execute the original WSIS vision.

The message I take home from this event is that there is much work left for us to do, and a strong commitment to doing it.

We will work together, and be seen to work together, in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration. That is how we will achieve the full implementation of the WSIS vision beyond 2015 and meet the real needs of people everywhere.

We believe that can only happen with the full participation of all stakeholders and we invite all stakeholders to remain fully engaged here and in other critical forums and institutions. No one country, no one institution, no one stakeholder can succeed alone. We will have to fulfill the WSIS goals together, acknowledging our success to date and overcoming remaining challenges together.

With your leadership, Mr. Chairman, and the efforts of all the attendees here and those participating remotely, I am confident that we can succeed. To you, Mr. Chairman, and to all our colleagues we extend the hand of friendship and our very best wishes for a successful event.



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