ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL REQUESTS SECRETARY-GENERAL
TO ESTABLISH INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES TASK
The Economic and Social Council this morning requested the Secretary-General
to establish an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
Task Force, taking into account the views expressed by Member
States and in consultation with the regional groups.
Adopting a decision without a vote during its resumed organizational
meeting, the Council also requested the Secretary-General to report
on the implementation of the decision at its 2001 substantive
Following the adoption of the text, the representative of Iran,
speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and
China, said that while ICT could contribute tremendously to development,
it also presented challenges that could lead to the widening of
the gap between developing and developed countries. The benefits
of ICT still had to be realized in developing countries. Priorities
to that end included ICT education, access and connectivity, as
well as availability of diverse content.
He stressed that ICT was a complement to development, not a solution.
There was an urgent need to promote capacity-building in developing
countries. Development of local content and of people's ability
to access it would foster cultural diversity. Any initiative to
develop norms and standards should be considered in a balanced
manner. Since market forces alone could not do that, partnerships
involving governments, civil society, bilateral donors and the
private sector were necessary.
The United Nations had a major role to play in such partnerships
and in the promotion of ICT in development, he said. It could
provide global leadership in bridging the digital gap. While establishing
the Task Force was a major step towards integrating ICT in development
plans, its financing should not be diverted from other sources
Also this morning, the Council appointed Giovanni Brauzzi (Italy)
as facilitator for the Task Force.
The Secretary-General proposed the Task Force as a means to promote
ICT development and ICT applications in all sectors of the economy.
The proposal was based on the recommendations of a Group of High-level
Advisers convened by the Secretary-general last April. The Group,
comprising representatives of governments, the private sector,
foundations, non-governmental organizations and the academic community,
was chaired by José Maria Figueres-Olsen, the Secretary-General's
Special Representative on ICT and a former President of Costa
In his report on the Task Force (document E/2001/7), the Secretary-General
said it should have a three-year mandate. It would not take over,
supersede or control other bodies involved in similar projects,
but collaborate with them. It would aim at raising awareness at
the highest political level and help in ICT capacity-building
and human resources development.
The report states that the outcome of wide-ranging consultations
conducted by members of the Advisory Group in October/December
2000 testified to the widespread agreement that ICT could be a
potent instrument for accelerating broad-based growth and sustainable
development and for reducing poverty. However, there was concern
that the huge potential for development provided by ICT was not
yet adequately reflected in development policies, programmes and
According to the report, The Task Force could be an important
catalyst, not only in bridging the existing "digital divide",
but also in averting the prospect of its rapidly growing wider.