REVISED DRAFT GEORGETOWN DECLARATION CARICOM Ministers responsible for Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
 


Whereas the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, at their Twenty-Third Meeting in July 2002 in Georgetown, Guyana, agreed that the formulation of policy in relation to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) requires attention, direction and promotion at the highest level;

We the Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), responsible for Information and Communication Technology, Conscious of the technological revolution, which is largely underpinning the forces of globalisation and rapidly defining a new liberalised world economy that is based on capacity to access knowledge, far reaching connectivity and improved flows of information;

Conscious also of current international trade arrangements and processes existing at the global and hemispheric levels, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) respectively, international cooperation and collaboration for the exploitation of digital opportunities and strengthening efforts for the information society;

Bearing in mind disparities in cost and access to ICT, within and among CARICOM countries, the challenge of widening divisions between those states, enterprises and persons that are able to take advantage of opportunities in the use of digital technologies and those states that are not so able, the expanding "digital divide", exploitation of digital opportunities and strengthening efforts for the information society;

Aware that the right of all persons to communicate and to have access to information and the means of communication, including telecommunication and networks, co-existing with respect for life, private property, privacy, intellectual property, confidentiality and security are fundamental to the general welfare of the Community;

Mindful of the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in sustaining the mission of regional integration, success in the creation of a vibrant CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), new employment opportunities, transformation of our societies, encouraging the development of our content industries, promoting and protecting all of our cultures and their rich diversity, generally securing future regional prosperity and the transformation of our societies;

Recognising the CARICOM mandate for development of trade, the services sector in the Region, including the development of micro-enterprises, the utilisation of E-Commerce, and development of the appropriate statistical frameworks to support that work;

Recognising too the need for an agenda that is concerned with ensuring a comprehensive CARICOM Connectivity regime that strives to achieve maximum benefits of ICT for the Region=s peoples, and for sustaining economic growth and social development, especially in areas of governance, empowerment, poverty reduction, investment and resource support and widespread access to training and resources;

Noting the progressive liberalisation of telecommunications in the Region and also that in an increasingly liberalised and globalised environment, the requirement that telecommunication be provided on a competitive and fair basis;

Noting further the interests and concerns of various stakeholders within the new and traditional ICT sector, and the efforts of various public and private sector bodies in the Region;

Taking into account initiatives already being taken by individual Member States, by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) sub regional group, and initiatives of other regional and international bodies;

HEREBY AGREE AS FOLLOWS:

That CARICOM States adopt a coordinated approach to conceptualisation and development of ICT policies, and development of structural, legal and regulatory frameworks, to stimulate and promote broader access to and use of information and communication technology by the populations of the Region, and the transfer of technology;

That there be established a specialised Group charged with responsibility for ICT within the CARICOM Working Group on Services, established under the aegis of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED);

That the CARICOM Secretariat, in conjunction with partner institutions and agencies in the Region, including relevant tertiary institutions, provide technical support for the Working Group to enable it to fulfill its mandate, especially in relation to the development, adoption and maintenance of global standards, regulations and the facilitation of development of efficiencies of small, medium and micro enterprises;

That the ICT specialised Group report to and advise the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of CARICOM, and the Conference of Heads of Government, on the facilitation of training, research and technological transfer supported by the work of the CARICOM Secretariat;

That over the next two (2) years, commencing the 7th day of February, 2003 the CARICOM ICT specialised Group shall work in collaboration with the appropriate regional and sub regional agencies and organisations and consult with international bodies and organisations, to ensure the development and maintenance of a programme to support the CARICOM ICT/Connectivity Agenda, and adherence to the principles of universal access, for the benefit of the Region, with a mid-term review to assess progress and guide further action.

Dated this 7th day of February, 2003
 
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