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Editorial Awareness of an exclusion

In parallel with a growing awareness of their marginalization within the information society and the bitter realization of their exclusion from international affairs, the 79 member states of the ACP Group gathered in Khartoum at the level of Heads of State and Government have resolved not to wait until the rich countries – the countries that have access to information – come to their aid. The time has come to act, and they have decided to implement the "1% digital solidarity principle" at their own level.

This is an exemplary move. It prioritizes action without the complications of political debate. Digital exclusion, which affects 80% of the world population, constitutes a fundamental infringement of the rights of the individual. In an information society powered by the flow of communication, access to information technologies is the prime condition for the right and freedom of expression. Such access is essential in the fields of education, health, protection of minorities and cultural diversity.

This decision on the part of developing countries deserves recognition. While solidarity has always been a characteristic of the most disadvantaged, this in no way absolves the rich and emerging countries that still hesitate to take far-reaching concrete steps to combat this new disparity. For lack of strong political will, such failure to act is likely to aggravate North-South relations profoundly and possibly even irremediably. All the more so given that it touches upon a very basic function of our society: the right to self-expression and dialogue.

We dare to hope that the countries possessing the power of information will get the message in due course. The response to be expected is a Marshall plan for a fair and inclusive information society. The "1% digital solidarity principle" is a first step in this direction. Happy Holidays!

Alain Clerc, Executive Secretary

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