NRI Papers
No.142 May 1 , 2009
  Building the Global Information Society
—Bridging the Digital Divide: Trends and Challenges in the International Community——
 
Ikuo OHASHI
   With the progress in information and communications technologies (ICTs), the gap has been expanding among countries in ICT use, which has created economic disparities. This gap is called the digital divide. The international community recognized this digital divide as a global challenge, and started to work together to eliminate this inequality.
   At the G8 Summit in 2000, the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society was adopted to study specific measures toward bridging the digital divide. The United Nations included ICT support in the United Nations Millennium Declaration as one of its assistance measures for developing countries, and set up ICT-related indicators in the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations decided to address the elimination of the digital divide as a global challenge in the new millennium, and held the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases, with the initiative taken by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
   Based on the WSIS outcomes, implementation and follow-up meetings for the eleven items of Action Lines and other agreed objectives were to be held every year to facilitate reduction of the digital divide. In 2008, the third meeting took place.
   The issues facing the international community to bridge the digital divide are to have deep and extensive recognition of the usefulness of ICTs and to promote the active utilization of such technologies. The issues facing international organizations are to increase the priority of the information and communications field. The issues facing Japan are to develop a system that enables strategic assistance and, based on such a system, to implement measures contributing to bridging the digital divide.
Contents
I What is the Digital Divide?
II Trends in the International Community
III Implementation and Follow-Up of the WSIS Outcomes
IV Future Issues and Challenges

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