INITIATIVES AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

The World Summit of Information Society

Strongly adhering to the principles of solidarity and cooperation between the peoples of the world, and deeply convinced that the common destiny of humanity require unified solutions to the serious issues facing the world today, President Ben Ali took the initiative in 1998 in Minneapolis, USA, to call for a world summit on the information society (WSIS), in order to lay the foundation for an information society based on justice and solidarity, and to reduce the digital divide in the world.

Realizing the importance of such an original idea, the conference of the plenipotentiaries of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has adopted unanimously this project. In June 2001, the ITU Council decided to organize the World Summit in two phases, the first to take place in Geneva in December 2003; and the second in Tunis in November 2005.

The Geneva phase has led to the adoption of a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action for an information society based on comprehensiveness and solidarity. The second phase, scheduled from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis, will evaluate to what extent the agreements reached in Geneva by the different states, associations and business organizations have successfully been implemented. It will also lead to the adoption of concrete measures to reduce the digital divide in the world, as well as to secure a democratic governance of the information society, guaranteeing that all peoples of the world have access to knowledge in a safe environment.

During its first preparatory meeting for the second phase of WSIS, in June 2004, Tunisia has suggested a series of measures destined to guarantee a massive participation of the civil society, of the private sector and all the other parties involved. It has also called for the establishment of a fund by the UN which will help finance the participation of the civil society of the developing countries. Tunisia has already announced a contribution of 400,000 dinars to this Fund.

The Euro-Mediterranean Heads of State Dialogue Summit (5+5)

The Euro-Mediterranean region takes on a particular importance in the societal project of President Ben Ali. Being at the crossroads of many civilizations, which it had warmly welcomed and on whose soil they had prospered, Tunisia wants itself to be a bridge between the two coasts of the Mediterranean , between East and West, between Africa and Europe .

President Ben Ali's objective is to make of the Mediterranean region an ideal model of cooperation, solidarity and mutual help at the international level. Pioneer of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and of the Barcelona Process, Tunisia has taken many initiatives thanks to President Ben Ali, so as to build a Euro-Mediterranean region based on solidarity and the prosperity of the peoples on both coasts. Tunisia is the first country of the southern part of the Mediterranean to have signed an association and free trade agreement with the European Union, in July 1995. President Ben Ali has likewise worked indefatigably to secure the regular meeting of the heads of state of the Euro-Mediterranean region to promote dialogue, which includes the five states of the Maghreb and five others from the Western basin of the Mediterranean.

The first summit "5+5" held in December 2003 in Tunis was, as President Jacques Chirac has put it, "a historic step" in the consolidation of solidarity between the peoples of the region. During this summit, President Ben Ali suggested the creation of a Mediterranean Investment Forum to boost the economic, and therefore human, relationships, as well as to increase the opportunities of encounter, exchange and partnership between the operators of the two sides. This initiative has been adopted by the Tunis Declaration issued from the summit proceedings.

President Ben Ali, during this summit, has put forth again his 1989 proposal, which seeks to establish a Euro-Maghrebian Charter on migration, so as to find humane and fair solutions to the problem of migration in the Mediterranean .

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