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Draft Statement on Connectivity

We, the democratically-elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, meeting in Quebec City, recognize that a technological revolution is unfolding in the world and that our region is entering a new economy, one defined by a vastly enhanced capacity to access knowledge and to improve flows of information. This revolution is stimulating dramatic changes in our democratic, economic and social institutions and it presents formidable challenges and opportunities to our hemisphere. We are convinced that the promotion of Connectivity will facilitate the beneficial integration of the hemisphere into an increasingly knowledge-based global economy and allow the Americas to fully seize opportunities to strengthen democracy, create prosperity and realize the human potential of its citizens.

Connectivity for the Americas

Connectivity supports our collective effort to create a true hemispheric community by connecting the citizens of the region and promoting hemispheric integration through the innovative use of information and communications technologies (ICT). Our commitment to Connectivity goes beyond the acknowledgement of the information revolution; we share an objective of providing all citizens of the Americas with the opportunity to develop the tools to access and share knowledge and to promote democratic consolidation, economic integration and social inclusion.

We agree that we must collectively move toward expanding access to and ownership of the knowledge economy, particularly in developing countries and with smaller economies. Similarly, we agree that Connectivity should be an inclusive process that benefits all sectors of society, women and men, children and youth, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and marginalized communities. Globalization and the spread of new technologies offer great possibilities for the inclusion of vulnerable groups and the promotion of cultural diversity, but they also raise concerns about the ability of some communities to express aspects of their cultural identity. Recognizing that respect for cultural and linguistic diversity contributes to social and economic dynamism, we remain committed to using the tools of the new economy to allow all individuals to participate in inter-cultural dialogue for the promotion and protection of their cultures.

Access for all

We reaffirm our will to adopt measures in order that all the peoples of the Americas may actively take part in the global information society based on democratic values, the free flow of information, mutual tolerance and respect for diversity. We recognize the leading role played by partnerships that promote connections among our citizens. We are committed to promoting cooperation between government, private industry, civil society and multi-lateral organizations.

Noting that regulatory barriers still exist in the region which may hinder the implementation of a hemispheric Connectivity agenda, taking into account national circumstances, we will direct ministries or departments of telecommunications and appropriate regulatory bodies to further clarify and expedite procedures governing the provision of telecommunication services in our countries, particularly with regard to satellite links.

We agree to cooperate with the private sector to modernize the telecommunications sector, bearing in mind the social, political, economic, commercial, and cultural needs of our peoples, particularly those of developing communities and remote regions. Accordingly, we are committed to the development of the telecommunications infrastructure needed to carry out comprehensive programs in all sectors of society and the economy, with special attention to capacity-building in areas of health, the environment and electronic-commerce.

We are also committed to mobilizing and sharing human resources to strengthen our capacities for applying information and communications technologies to human development and education. We recognize the progress achieved by cooperative internship programs in the hemisphere and we remain committed to promoting volunteerism to democratize access to training and expertise through the establishment of national and regional information and communications technologies internship programs. By building on the comparative strengths of our private partners and academic institutes, voluntary training programs will provide effective management and support to a Connectivity agenda while creating valuable shared and collective work experience for our young citizens. Recognizing the importance of providing our children and youth with the opportunity to participate in the knowledge-based economy, we agree to examine ways in which new technologies address the needs of our national education institutes and systems. Through the establishment of partnerships with private industry and institutions, we agree to seek out innovative ways of addressing access to computers and software in our learning environments.

Governance

We recognize that our leadership is necessary in providing an appropriate enabling policy and regulatory environment. We agree to establish conditions, taking into account national circumstances, that promote and strengthen free and fair competition in all telecommunications services. We will support cooperation among our countries and joint initiatives with the private sector in order to achieve coherent results in the telecommunications sector. We are committed to coordinating our hemispheric initiatives with those occurring on a global level, such as those actions coordinated by the Digital Opportunity Task Force (Dot-Force), to ensure that our region profits from and contributes to our increasingly connected world.

In establishing an enabling environment for the exploitation of the potential of Connectivity, we note with satisfaction the work of CITEL. We will endeavour to implement the Mutual Recognition Agreement on conformity assessment. We will consider measures designed to modernize national laws, as appropriate, based on principles such as: permanence of strong and independent regulatory bodies, a pro-competitive approach, including the adoption of rules on dominant operators; and a flexible and updated regulatory framework consistent with technological convergence.

Empowerment

In creating an enabling environment that permits sharing the benefits of a connected, integrated hemisphere, we recognize that we must not divert energy or resources from our collective efforts to provide for the basic needs of all our citizens. We must remain committed to reducing poverty and raising living standards. We are united in our resolve to ensure that our efforts to promote Connectivity will continue to be fully consistent with and supportive of the best interests of all countries in the hemisphere in advancing economic prosperity, enhancing corporate social responsibility and furthering our commitments to strengthen democratic institutions and processes, protect human rights, increase respect for the rule of law, enhance the security of persons and promote equitable social development.

Our Connectivity Statement is based on a premise of sharing knowledge, creating opportunities and promoting the socially responsible exploitation of information and communications technologies. Our commitment to the new economy must permanently provide all of our citizens with opportunities to use information and communication technologies as a tool to improve quality of life, preserve peace and democracy, strengthen capabilities and stimulate economic and social development for the hemispheric community of the Americas.


2002-03-06
 
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