>> Overview of Civil Society Elements and how to get involved.
The following describes in summary the basic structures that civil society has developed over the preparatory process of the WSIS.
1. A key principle underlying the structures of civil society is that there must be multiple avenues and means for participation, and that all civil society entities can select the nature, level and extent of participation according to their needs and interests.
2. Civil Society can constitute itself into a Plenary (CSP) at every official convening of the WSIS process, such as Regional Conferences, PrepComs, Intersessional meetings and Summits. The CSP is open to the participation of all civil society participants. When convened, it is the ultimate civil society authority in the WSIS process, in relation to the mandate and scope of the specific event. At PrepCom II, CSP endorsed the existence and terms of the Civil Society Content & Themes Group and the Civil Society Bureau.
3. The Civil Society Content and Themes Group (CS C&T) coordinates the work of numerous self-constituting civil society Caucuses, Working Groups and other content related entities. It is charged with facilitating agreement on and taking decisions on content-related issues, while respecting the domain expertise and competence of Caucuses and Content Groups. It reports regularly to the CS plenary on decisions taken.
4. The Civil Society Bureau (CSB) functions as an interlinkage between civil society participants and the intergovernmental Bureau and process, with regard to operational and logistical needs, procedures and interactions. It does not concern itself with content-related issues. The Bureau is constituted by 21 'family nodal points', that enable any civil society entity to find a 'home', and it enhances interaction between all sections of civil society and between civil society and others. The Civil Society Division of the WSIS Secretariat provides the Secretariat for the CS Bureau. The Bureau reports regularly to the CS Plenary on decisions taken.
5. The Civil Society Division of the WSIS Secretariat (CSD) supports the activities of all civil society participants and entities in the Summit, including the above. It may also provide support to participants who chose not to associate with some or all of the above entities, in a manner that respects the functions and authority of the above.
6. The CSP approved a Virtual CS Plenary group as an electronic forum between physical meetings of the CSP, to promote debate and greater transparency in the organisation of civil society during the Summit preparatory process, including between the various entities above. It is not a decision making entity, but decisions of other entities will be circulated there. It is open to all accredited entities, to registered bodies at WSIS meetings, and to all civil society entities with an active interest in the WSIS.
7. All the above entities will take action to ensure that, within the available resources, key decisions are taken only after consideration of the issues in the working languages of the Summit: English, French and Spanish.
Seán Ó Siochrú
For more information about the CS Plenary mailing list and how to subscribe, click here
For more information about the CS Content and Themes Mailing list and how to subscribe, click here
For more information about all of the CS Content and Themes caucuses and working groups, click here
For more information about the CS Bureau click here
For more information about the CS Division click here