Declaration on the Digital Divide

Article published on Dec. 3, 2002
community published
Article published on Dec. 3, 2002

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

"Transforming Drops of Concern into and Ocean of Change"

The organisations and people signatories to this declaration believe that the development of the Information Society should be for the benefit of all citizens, communities, and peoples of the world, regardless of race, social position, creed, gender or age. They believe that exclusion of millions of people from the benefits of information and communications technologies (ICT) either through poverty, disability or any other involuntary exclusion -the digital divide- is unfair, undesirable and avoidable and that, together, we have the force to change this reality for the better. They commit themselves to campaign and work to make true the potential of the digital opportunity for democracy and sustainable development and reduce the divide within and between countries

The signatory organisations and individuals acknowledge that:

ICTs are fundamental to the development of a sustainable global digital or knowledge economy, to employment creation and, generally, to the improvement in the quality of life and work of individuals, communities and civil society;

ICTs are fundamental to democracy and the good practice of government, reinforcing transparency, accountability, privacy, and democratic participation by the civil society and all citizens;

ICTs are fundamental to improve the efficiency of government services to organisations and citizens in terms of both cost and quality;

ICTs are fundamental to improve the creation, access, communication and consumption of relevant information and services in health, education, safety, environment for the benefit of individuals and communities in poor and deprived areas of the world (including in advanced countries);

A great challenge exists to realise the opportunity created by the digital technologies ("the digital opportunity") and advance towards the noble goal of the UN Millennium Summit, namely, reducing poverty by half by 2015;

The realisation of the full potential of the digital opportunity is unlikely to happen spontaneously through current forms of global governance. It demands the implementation of global concerted efforts explicitly focused on poverty and exclusion by all players in societies;

There are incipient steps in this direction, particularly, in the work of organisations such as the UN ICT Task Force and many others at all levels. Given the magnitude of the challenge however more is required from all parties concerned with the elimination of the digital divide;

On this basis the signatory organisations and individuals call for and commit themselves to work:

for the emergence and flourishing of a 'digital-divide' or 'digital-opportunity' global social movement, inclusive of governments, international organisations, private sector, non-profit sector, (NGOs, foundations, etc.) communities, the civil society and, indeed, any organisation or individuals sharing the sentiment of an information society for the benefit of all;

to stimulate massive awareness on the issues of the digital divide and its deep relation to the challenge of reduction of poverty and exclusion raised by the UN Millennium Summit: reduction of poverty by half by year 2015;

to ensure the application of ICTs to improve the provision of information and services in health, education, safety, environment and other fields for the benefit of individuals and communities in all poor and deprived areas of the world (including those in advanced countries);

to ensure the application of ICTs to improve democracy, privacy and security and, generally, the quality of life and work of individuals; the quality, cost-effectiveness and transparency of processes and services; and the effective progress towards sustainable development;

to encourage the formulation, implementation, collaboration, learning together and sharing of community, local, regional, national and international programmes, initiatives, projects and actions for inclusive digital economies across the world;

to maintain and promote the Declaration as a physical or virtual charter open to adherence by all organisations and individuals who, across the world, share the sentiment of an information society for all, and are prepared to work to realise the goal of elimination of the digital divide and, concretely, reducing poverty by half by year 2015.