UN report request

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The Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Sha Zukang, has written to Internet Society President and CEO Lynn St. Amour, inviting ISOC to provide an annual performance report on the steps the organization has taken toward "enhanced cooperation" on public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.  This request comes in the context of the outcomes of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society.  (A copy of that letter is posted here.)

ISOC has no reporting lines to the United Nations or any of its agencies.  In that context, ISOC is considering how to respond to this request.  As a first step, ISOC seeking comments from ISOC members and chapters on this site.  In addition, ISOC will contact other key Internet organizations to discover if they have received similar requests, and to find out how they are planning to respond.

This wiki page provides you with an opportunity to comment on the invitation from the United Nations.  The wiki will be monitored, and responses will be taken into consideration in developing ISOC's reply.

Please contribute by posting your comments below. N.B.:  You must be logged in to post comments.  Please use the login button (upper right).  If you do not yet have a user ID on this wiki, please use the register button.

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UN request for cooperation
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It is interesting that the UN is requesting an annual performance report on ISOC and public policy concerns relating to the Internet. We believe this is a good opportunity for ISOC to pull together a report so that our members and the UN can better understand the breadth of ISOC efforts in the public policy realm.

As Chair and Vice Chair of The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, we believe it is probably a good time to remind ISOC about our chapter participation in WSIS, the Internet Governance Forum and the creation of the UN Convention (treaty) on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Our chapter is concerned about public policy impact and participation of persons with disabilities with respect to the Internet. As reported earlier by our chapter, Cynthia Waddell accepted an invitation to speak at a parallel event of the WSIS in Tunis concerning the removal of barriers for participation in the Information Society by persons with disabilities. The presentation was an update to our ISOC Briefing #2 found online at http://www.isoc.org/briefings/002/.

Independent of Cynthia Waddell's role in the chapter, she was engaged by the Ad Hoc Committee drafting the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabililties to serve as an expert in access to the built environment and to the accessible design of technology. As you may know, ICT is a significant component in the Convention. In fact, ISOC may be interested to know that UNESCO is publishing a book on accessbility and ICT recently co-authored by Cynthia Waddell entitled, "Accessibility Guidelines for Community Multimedia Centers." This publication supports the UN public policy efforts for accessible design of telecenter facilities as well as the use of technology incorporating accessible design.

As reported in the chapter newsletter, the ISOC Disability and Special Needs Chapter has participated in public policy forums on accessible web design with other chapters - particularly with ISOC Buenos Aires, Argentina and Jorge Plano- and most recently with a chapter being newly formed in Belgrade, Serbia, under the leadership of Vedran Vucic. We also presented at The Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro on two occasions: a panel on accessible technology and a panel on the intersection of open ICT standards, development and public policy.

Separately from Cynthia Waddell's role as a member the ISOC Disability and Special Needs Chapter, she serves as an expert in public policy and accessible technology in two United Nations forums: 1) G3ict Expert on Accessible Government Services (flagship advocacy initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development) and 2) International Telecommunications Union expert on accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The ISOC Disability and Special Needs chapter would be very interested in following ISOC communications to the UN on public policy and Internet issues.

With best regards,
Michael Burks, Chair
Cynthia D. Waddell, Vice Chair
ISOC Disability and Special Needs Chapter
Posted 17:00, 26 Mar 2008
[The following comment is added with permission from Stefano Trumpy, President, ISOC Italy]

This is something that was floating in the air actually since a couple of years; first I submit a few comments on the letter, form , timing etc.

- this letter is aiming at implementing the first part of par. 71 of Tunis Agenda, that is the so-called top down approach of the so called "enhanced cooperation";

- this activation is happening with a two years of delay and is sent by the Under Secretary General;

- in the mean time the bottom up approach of par.71 has been activated in particular by ICANN and the IGF (that was not conceived to be involved in the so called "critical resources" and in particular in the enhanced cooperation process) had the chance to verify the progress in the bottom up approach;

- in the letter there is no mention about the interpretation of UN SG referring to the term "enhanced cooperation";

- it would be interesting to know the list of the organizations that received this letter; this could give an idea of the interpretation of the process by UN;

- there is no mention about the actions that will follow the receipt of the answers by the relevant organizations.

Concluding remarks:

- my impression is that UN had pressure do something to demonstrate that they are seriously considernig the outputs of WSIS in Tunis; they than decided to adopt a king of smoggy approach with the idea that the process will be clarified on going;

- my suggestion is that ISOC should produce a nice document explaining it's achievements and the collaborations with other organizations, including ITU, OECD, UNESCO, etc.; I am dubious about asking IETF to produce a separate document; the sense of what I am saying is that ISOC was already collaborating with other organizations before WSIS in Tunis but we take the chance to show further improvements;

- the relations with the IGF process should be discussed in the meantime while waiting the enhanced cooperation process interpretation by UN to be understood/clarified.

Stefano Trumpy
edited 18:06, 28 Mar 2008
Posted 18:04, 28 Mar 2008
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