To many, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process has been a laboratory: its innovative mechanisms holding the potential to serve as effective models to help shape future UN meetings and summits, as well as other processes involving multiple stakeholders. In order to realize this potential, it seems critical to step back and to evaluate the achievements of the WSIS, both in terms of its success in attaining its original objectives, and its potential for structural replication elsewhere. While it is premature to draw final conclusions regarding the WSIS process, this article outlines some initial findings on the structure of the meeting, and overall success in implementing its recommendations and policies.
In the second part of the article, we also describe some positive results stemming from the active participation of one specific constituency, the volunteer sector. The volunteer sector first became involved in the process of the WSIS in 2002, at the African Regional Conference in Bamako. Since then, volunteers and volunteer organizations have actively contributed both to its preparatory process, the Geneva Summit, and the Tunis phase.
We conclude that some of the lessons learned in the volunteer sector are particularly relevant to future efforts to build both effective multi-stakeholder relationships and successful partnerships. At the end of this paper, we detail the unique qualifications of volunteers to impact these processes.