UNESCO meeting urges further research on ethical communication
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UNESCO meeting urges further research on ethical communication


Freedom of expression, media pluralism, cultural diversity and gender equality perspectives are central to the future of knowledge societies, according to a UNESCO meeting in Paris reviewing progress since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) ten years ago.

WSIS – which met in two sessions in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005) – aimed to promote access to information and knowledge through new communications technologies and to tackle the digital divide separating the northern hemisphere from the global South.

The 25-27 February UNESCO WSIS +10 review meeting brought together more than 800 participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and other groups. Its recommendations will feed into further United Nations deliberations on WSIS and into follow-up plans for the Millennium Development Goals.

WACC was active at the original WSIS meetings as part of the Communication Rights in the Information Society Campaign (CRIS).

At the UNESCO meeting, WACC was represented through its partner Globethics.net, a Geneva-based network promoting global dialogue on ethics.

Issues highlighted in a final statement, headed “Information and Knowledge for All,” included the need to:

  • · respect human diversity in all its forms, including cultural and linguistic diversity;
  • · promote information and media literacy;
  • · fully integrate gender equality perspectives in WSIS-related strategies and facilitate their implementation, and that efforts should go beyond technocentric solutions towards advancing women’s innovative and meaningful use of ICTs for their empowerment and development.
  • · develop measures and policies to safeguard endangered languages and promote multilingualism.
  • · continue focusing on the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples and people with disabilities, to solve the problem of inaccessibility.
  • · promote and ensure the safety of online journalists, bloggers and human right activists;
  • · encourage international and interdisciplinary reflection and debate on the ethical challenges of emerging technologies and the information society;
  • · respect freedom of expression, as defined in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to education, science and technology and artistic and cultural expressions remain essential for progress towards inclusive knowledge societies, and enhanced cultural diversity.

It said that knowledge societies “should seek to ensure full respect for cultural diversity, and that everyone has the right to express themselves, to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice.”

WACC Director Dr Stephen Brown, who works with Globethics.net and attended the UNESCO meeting in Paris, said: “The UNESCO meeting offered a platform to underline key principles for the information society. Within the WSIS +10 review process, it is important that WACC and its members continue to advocate full access to information and communication, open and diverse media, and communication as a basic human right.”

Further information about the UNESCO WSIS +10 event is here.

Final statement is available here.

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