Who hosted the WSIS Summit?

Why, Tunisia, a country not noted for its commitment to freedom of expression, or indeed of anything else. In the course of his amiable overview of the Summit, Bill Thompson notes:

Hosting WSIS has not made Tunisia freer or more open. In fact, the endorsement we have provided by being here may even help sustain the government of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

But in the long-term, if every time we talk about Tunisia we remind people that it hosted a summit dedicated to free expression, and point out its failure to live up to its international obligation, then it may help those who want to reform Tunisian politics.

Hmmm… And pigs might also fly. Bill posted (on Flickr) some vivid photographs of the demonstration by Reporters without Frontiers of a world map with lots of blacked-out areas representing countries whose ruling regimes censor the Net.

More cynical views of WSIS were posted by Kieren McCarthy, who noted how the Swiss Prime Minister was ‘hounded’ by Tunisian media for calling a spade a spade:

Mr Schmid stunned delegates to the Summit when he said it was not acceptable for the UN to “continue to include among its members those states which imprison citizens for the sole reason that they have criticised their government or their authorities on the internet or in the press.”

He then mentioned Tunisia in particular: “For myself, it goes without question that here in Tunis, within its walls and without, anyone can discuss quite freely. For us, it is one of the conditions sine qua non for the success of this international conference.”