WSIS Context

World Summit Award and the United Nations

DAWN of the Information Society

UN General Assembly endorses to hold a World Summit on the Information Society


Following a proposal by the Government of Tunisia, the International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations, adopted a resolution at its Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis in 1998 to hold a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and to place it on the agenda of the United Nations.

In 2001, the ITU Council decided to hold the Summit in two phases, the first from  December 10 to 12, 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland, and the second  November 16 to 18, 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia. This was endorsed by the UN General Assembly (Resolution 56/183) while according the lead role for the preparatory work to the ITU in cooperation with other interested organizations and partners.

To assist the ITU in its work, the UN Secretary-General appointed a High-level Summit Organization Committee (HLSOC) comprising of Executive Heads of the FAO, IAEA, ICAO, ILO, IMO, ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WFP, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, UN Regional Economic Commissions, and the World Bank. HLSOC also includes IADB, OECD, UNITAR and UNV as observers.

The UN Secretary-General appointed a Special Adviser to WSIS as his representative.


Accessing Networks, The Promise of Digital interactive Content

United Nations World Summit Phase 1  Geneva


The objective of the first phase was to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake.

Declaration of Principles & Geneva Plan of Action

Nearly 50 Heads of state/government and Vice-Presidents, 82 Ministers, and 26 Vice-Ministers from 175 countries as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, private sector, and civil society attended the Geneva Phase of WSIS and gave political support to the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Geneva Plan of Action that were adopted on December 12, 2003.

More than 11,000 participants from 175 countries attended the Summit and related events.

More on the first phase of WSIS

The World Summit Award (WSA) – the initiative of Austria for UN WSIS

Responding to the global challenge of the Information Society and the UN Agenda, the government of the Republic of Austria decided to initiate a member state activity on creative e-Content for the Word Summit Conference.

The government mandated the International Center for New Media and its honorary chairman Prof. Dr. Peter A. Bruck to launch the World Summit Award, in order to present to the global UN family of states and all delegates to the World Summit the richness and diversity of creative use of ICTs.

WSIS was introduced by UN Sec. General Kofi Annan and the first WSA winners were awarded in 2003 at the WSIS in Geneva under the patronage of Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, and the Federal Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schüssel.

WSA 2003 Best of Picturebook
The winning certificates were handed over by:

In 2003, the first year of the World Summit Award, 136 UN member states participated and submitted 803 e-Content applications.

Adama Samassékou President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee

"The World Summit Award gives expression in a very concrete way to the hopes of people to use the IS technologies for something good. It is also a most important means to allow the cultural identities of all nations to be communicated in the Summit Process. The WSA makes a clear statement that richness and diversity can be developed and that all in the South and North can benefit from each other when contents are exchanged in an open manner."

Guy-Olivier Segond Special Ambassador for the WSIS

"The World Summit on the Information Society is not about: 'How does it work?'. It is about: 'What's the purpose of it?' That is why the World Summit Award for e-Content and Creativity is essential to the success of this Summit."

Charles Geiger WSIS, Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee

"Bridging the digital divide and building the edifice of a global, development-oriented Information Society is dependent on the quality of information and knowledge that can be made available to all. The World Summit Award, held within the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society, demonstrates the cutting edge in harnessing the vast potential of the digital revolution in the service of humanity. It is my fervent hope that this collaboration with WSA, in bringing to the forefront the finest examples of e-content and showcasing best practices from around the world, will go a long way in providing a comprehensive shape to the vision enunciated in Geneva and pave the road ahead to Tunis and beyond."


UNESCO grants patronage to World Summit Award


Read more here...


WSA UN WSIS Preparatory Conference on ICT & Creativity


Organized as the preparatory conference for the UN WSIS Tunisia by the International Center for New Media under the patronage of

  • Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, Federal Chancelllor Republic of Austria
  • Joshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

WSA Chairman with Austrian Federal Chancellor and UNESCO Director General

Key speakers included:

  • Ammar, Habib – President, WSIS Standing Organizing Committee, Tunisian Republic
  • Bérová, Dana - Minister of Informatics, Czech Republic
  • Blois Montes de Souza, Roberto - Deputy Secretary-General of ITU
  • Gehrer, Elisabeth - Federal Minister for Education, Science and Culture, Republic of Austria
  • Kambalov, Sergei - Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN ICT Task Force
  • Karklins, Janis - President of WSIS Preparatory Committee for the Tunis Phase, Republic of Lativa
  • Khan, Abdul Moyeen - Minister of Science and Information & Communication Technology, Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh
  • Khan, Abdul Waheed - Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO
  • Kovacic, Miroslav - State Secretary, Prime Minister's Office - eCroatia, Republic of Croatia
  • Kovács, Kálmán - Minister of Informatics and Communications, Republic of Hungary
  • Magariños, Carlos Alfredo - Director-General of UNIDO
  • Matsuura, Koïchiro - Director-General of UNESCO
  • Morak, Franz - State Secretary for the Arts and Media, Republic of Austria
  • Puro, Perttu - State Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Republic of Finland
  • Samassekou, Adama - President of WSIS Preparatory Committee for the Geneva Phase, President of the African Academy of Languages and Former Minister of Education, Republic of Mali
  • Schüssel, Wolfgang - Federal Chancellor, Republic of Austria

Digital Divide, Closing the Content Gap

United Nations World Summit Phase 2  Tunis


The objective of the second phase was to put Geneva's Plan of Action into motion as well as to find solutions and reach agreements in the fields of Internet governance, financing mechanisms, and follow-up and implementation of the Geneva and Tunis documents.

Nearly 50 Heads of state/government and Vice-Presidents and 197 Ministers, Vice Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 174 countries, as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, private sector, and civil society attended the Tunis Phase of WSIS and gave political support to the Tunis Commitment and Tunis Agenda for the Information Society that was adopted on November 18, 2005.

More than 19,000 participants from 174 countries attended the Summit and related events.

World Summit Award @ Tunis Summit


The World Summit Award conducted several events during the Tunis Summit.  A highlight, the WSA award ceremony and gala were held at the opening evening of the WSIS Tunis Summit. It was moderated by WSA chairman Prof. Dr. Peter A. Bruck and WSA board member Eng. Manar Alhashash.

Key participants presenting the awards:

Highlights of the WSA Gala in Tunis at the Tunis Summit:

The official contribution of the Austrian Government for the WSIS was the Austrian e-Content Village, presented by  WSA. Best practice examples in e-Content from around the world were presented at the exhibition platform in Tunis from November 14th to 19th.


WSIS Follow-up

In the resolution (2006/46) passed on July 28, 2006, entitled “Follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and review of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development”, ECOSOC indicated how it will oversee the system-wide follow-up of Summit outcomes, as requested in the Tunis outputs.

This is in the context of the annual consideration by ECOSOC of the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up of major United Nations conferences.

To this end, ECOSOC decided that the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) will assist the Council as the focal point of the system-wide follow-up of WSIS.

To follow up on the WSIS process and provide a platform for all stakeholders, the ITU and its partners organizes a WSIS forum in Geneva every year, where to this day World Summit Award participates with workshops and an exhibition booth to demonstrate the richness and diversity of e-Content globally.

WSIS+10: WSIS Review Process

Launch of United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID)

UN GAID was launched  by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2006 as a subgroup in continuation of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force.

GAID was chaired by Craig Barret, Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation and followed by Talal Abu-Ghazaleh.


WSA selected as flagship initiative of UN GAID

The World Summit Award was selected among the Flagship Initiatives of UN GAID (page 79), responsible for “local content".

Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator of UN GAID
"GAID places particular importance on initiatives such as the WSA, and welcomes the development of appropriate tools and training content, an essential ingredient of local knowledge sharing, in order to enable communities to find resources most relevant to their needs.
WSA will launch a Flagship Initiative on e-Content within GAID with the objective of creating a meaningful dialogue - involving grass-roots and civil society organizations, governments, the private sector and other stakeholders - in order to advance consensus and help decision-makers to bring about the appropriate regulatory environment enabling local content production, dissemination and usage for the benefit of the communities.”

Full Statement by Sarbuland Khan


World Summit Award and World Summit Youth Award Winner Celebration 2009 in collaboration with UNDESA-GAID Global Forum

In collaboration with UNDESA-GAID Global Forum, the World Summit Award and World Summit Youth Award Winner Celebrations 2009 were held in Monterrey, Mexico, September 2-5.

The co-organization of the event demonstrated the joint activity and vision of UN GAID and its flagship initiative World Summit Award.

WSA and WSYA winners participated and interacted with policy makers and government representatives from all over the world and UN GAID participants experienced the creativity and interactive nature of global e-Content.

Full report on the Forum


WSA-mobile Global Congress in cooperation with the UN GAID Global Forum



WSA @ WSIS+10 Review Event

Organized by UNESCO and co-organized with ITU, UNDP and UNCTAD


H.E. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO invited the World Summit Award to organize a special WSIS+10 review gala on the occasion of the WSIS+10 High Level meeting in Paris and to review the e-Content applications of the past 10 years.

WSIS+10 offered some 1450 participants from 130 countries 83 high-quality sessions on diverse Knowledge Society topics; 4 Heads of Intergovernmental Organizations opened the Event, many Ministers and other high-level government officials, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Nobel Prize Dr. Pachauri, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and the CEO of ICANN discussed latest and future developments in the field of ICTs, including the Internet.

Some 25 pages of recommendations from sessions were compiled as foundations for the ongoing WSIS Review and latest peer-reviewed research -specifically commissioned for the Event- informed the discussions.

H.E. Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO

"UNESCO commends the WSA initiative, which is central to efforts to promote the use of ICTs in finding creative and innovation solutions for the developmental challenges that face countries across the world. Past editions of the Summit have been very successful in highlighting ways in which e-content can transform a wide array of fields, including education, entertainment and culture.
The ideals of this event are in line with UNESCO´s own efforts to develop inclusive knowledge societies in which ICTs play a central role. We are pleased to have been associated with the WSA over the years in the important area of e-content and in implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes.
UNESCO is keen to strengthen its relationship with WSA and , which this in mind, I would like to propose that you consider holding the 2013 WSA Award winners ceremony during the WSIS+10 review event, which will take place at UNESCO´s headquarters in Paris in February 2013.
I wish you every success for this year’s event and look forward to continuing to build upon the excellent relationship between UNESCO and the WSA."

See the full letter here

Following the invitation of DG Bokova, WSA experts, board members and jury members selected the WSIS+10 Global Champions and awarded them at a festive award ceremony at the WSIS+10 High Level Meeting.

The awards were presented by:


General Assembly High-level Meeting


Outcome document of the meeting

Extracts of the outcome document:
“We accordingly agree for the General Assembly to hold a High Level Meeting on the overall review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes in 2025, which involves the inputs and participation of all stakeholders, including in the preparatory process, and takes stock of progress on WSIS outcomes, as well as identifies both areas of continued focus and challenges. We encourage its outcome to be as an input into the review process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.“

“We recognize that the WSIS Forum has been a platform through which all stakeholders can discuss and share best practices on the implementation of WSIS outcomes, and should continue to be held annually.”


2019 ongoing

Working towards WSIS 2025

Continuing working to put UN-WSIS goals into action, WSA is keeping close cooperation and partnerships with several UN organisations and reports back yearly at the WSIS Forum in Geneva.