The concluding phase of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-led World Summit on the Information Society took place in Tunis in November 2005. A main objective of the process was to chart future directions in areas critical to bridging the digital divide. The outcomes of the Tunis phase, along with the earlier phase in Geneva in 2003, present a vision of an inclusive information society, which would harness information and ICTs to empower individuals, communities and nations to achieve their full potential. The Summit demonstrated that these technologies can be powerful tools for increasing access to health and education, enhancing productivity, generating economic growth, fostering job creation and employability, and strengthening environmental sustainability, thus reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of all. The United Nations system was assigned a central place in the broad multi-stakeholder effort of bringing the benefits of the information revolution to everyone.

The World Summit on the Information Society outcome documents set forth an extensive blueprint for implementation and follow-up at the international level, involving all stakeholders. They also provide for a comprehensive intergovernmental follow-up and review process, integrated in the wider review of the complex internationally agreed development goals, engaging the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

While the Summit Outcome calls upon all actors — Governments, the private sector, civil society — to mobilize their full contribution to these processes, it relies on the United Nations system to play a leading role in relation to the 11 Action Lines that constitute key implementation mechanisms for achieving the goals of the World Summit on the Information Society.

In response to a request addressed in the Tunis agenda to the Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chair of the CEB, the Board has now endorsed the establishment of a United Nations group on the information society to coordinate United Nations system activities within the implementation and follow-up framework of the World Summit on the Information Society. Led cooperatively by ITU, UNESCO and UNDP, the group will work to mainstream the information society agenda into the activities and programmes of CEB members, avoid duplication, facilitate synergies between organizations to maximize joint efforts and promote public awareness. The group would act across multiple stakeholders as an information and coordination nexus for the inter-agency activities associated with both the implementation of the Action Lines and the follow-up processes in the Economic and Social Council and other bodies.