What is Civil Society?
Civil society is an all-encompassing term often used to refer to social structures and interests beyond the household and outside state institutions, including voluntary associations and non-profit organisations where people combine for their collective interests. These voluntary associations draw from community, neighbourhood, work and other connections. Civil society includes social movements or community based organizations where people come together to advance their interests. The term is not commonly used in Australia, but in Europe and elsewhere it is strongly identified with the collective interests of citizens beyond the operation of government.
Resolution 73 of the International Telecommunication Union (Minneapolis, 1998) resolved to instruct the ITU Secretary-General to place the question of the holding of a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on the agenda of the United Nations Administrative Committee. The WSIS is under the patronage of the UN Secretary General.
As such, it is the peak international summit to discuss international telecommunications issues, and civil society and non-government organisations are encouraged to have an active role in the prepatory process for the summit.
Information about the WSIS
As a UN process, the WSIS is highly structured. The following are important links:
As examples of the sorts of approaches by Civil Society organisations being taken you may wish to visit http://www.worldsummit2005.org for a German perspective on how they are advancing a civil society input and http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.html to see an example of how Consumers International is responding (scroll down to the statement).