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New Model, Old Barriers: Remaining Challenges to African Civil Society Participation

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  • Philipp Schmidt

Abstract

African civil society representation in the process leading up to WSIS, and at the Geneva meeting itself, did not elicit the impact expected by some and hoped for by most.Looking closely at the reasons why could inspire solutions for next time, in particular as attention turns to the Tunis meeting in 2005.Problems and hurdles were many, and there was no single point of failure.However, one underlying factor exacerbated many others:the various actors did not understand what was really needed for ground-level representatives to participate effectively in an international policy meeting.On one side, the international organizers communicated the importance of civil society groups and called on them to participate, but they failed to recognize that those most suited to contribute-especially in Africa-did not have the financial and other resources needed to participate effectively.On the other side, African civil society did not deliver enough of the kind of input that WSIS insiders could use to leverage change.Overall, they lacked coordination and failed to build consensus on many topics.And once representatives got to the meeting, many were not well informed enough to effectively influence discussions-not only in the "big rooms," but more importantly, in the many smaller venues and corridors where unscheduled opportunities arose for direct interaction with decision makers. (c) 2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Internationl Development.

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  • Philipp Schmidt, 2004. "New Model, Old Barriers: Remaining Challenges to African Civil Society Participation," Information Technologies and International Development, MIT Press, vol. 1(3-4), pages 100-103, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:itintd:v:1:y:2004:i:3-4:p:100-103
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