|Expanding Access to Science and Technology (UNU, 1994, 462 pages)|
|Session 2a: Experiences with international cooperation and the developing countries|
|A critical evaluation of experiences and strategies|
3.1 UNISIST I
In the 1960s the attention given to "Big Science" was paralleled by an uncoordinated development of information systems and services. Many leaders in the international scientific community became concerned that the prevailing unharmonious trends in handling information were in fact jeopardizing the traditions of international exchange of scientific information. The ICSU and Unesco-joined in a three-year (1968-1970) feasibility study, the results of which were submitted to an intergovernmental conference convened in October 1971 and later known as UNISIST I. The recommendations and priorities expressed by member states at the conference gave shape to the UNISIST Intergovernmental Programme of Unesco, designed to stimulate and guide voluntary cooperative action and to facilitate access to and exchange of STI.
Despite early use of the terminology "World Science Information System," UNISIST was from the beginning conceived as a long-term programme. It had as its broad principles:
The unimpeded exchange of published or publishable scientific information and data among scientists of all countries.
Hospitality to the diversity of disciplines and fields of science and technology as well as to the diversity of languages used for the international exchange of scientific information.
Promotion of the interchange of published or publishable information and data among the systems, whether manual or machine, which process and provide information for the use of scientists and engineers.
The co-operative development and maintenance of technical standards in order to facilitate the interchange of scientific information and data among systems.
Promotion of compatibility between and among information processing systems developed in different countries and in different areas of the sciences.
Promotion of co-operative agreements between and among systems in different countries and in different areas of the sciences for the purpose of sharing work-loads and of providing needed services and products.
Assistance to countries, both developing and developed, which seek access to contemporary and future information services in the sciences.
The development of trained manpower and of resources of published information and data in all countries as necessary foundations for the utilization of machine systems.
The increased participation of scientists in the development and use of information systems, with particular attention to the involvement of scientists in the evaluation and synthesis of scientific information and data.
The involvement of the coming generation of scientists in the planning of scientific information systems of the future.
The reduction of administrative and legal barriers to the flow of scientific information between and among countries. 
These principles, considered basic for the improvement of the international flow of scientific information, later proved applicable not only to science and technology but also to all fields of human knowledge. The whole UNISIST programme and international movement derived therefrom was based on the firm belief that:
Scientific information embodies the heritage of man's scientific knowledge. It constitutes an essential resource for the work of scientists. It is a cumulative resource; knowledge builds on knowledge as new findings are reported. It is an international resource, built painstakingly by scientists of all countries without regard to race, language, colour, religion or political persuasion. As it is built internationally, so it is used internationally. Scientists who are its builders and users ask only that each other's contributions be verifiable; it is, therefore, not only a source; it is a means through which the world's scientists maintain their discipline. It is a medium for the education of future scientists, and a principle reservoir of concepts and data to be drawn on for application to economic and technological development programs. Unisist is concerned with the cultivation of this resource, with increasing international co-operation to improve its accessibility and use, to the end that, as an international resource, it contribute optimally to the scientific, educational, social, cultural and economic development of all countries. 
The twenty-five-year-old UNISIST "credo" is still valid today. It is in fact basic to all present and future efforts of international cooperation to expand access to information on science and technology. While the strategy remained the gradual establishment of a flexible and loosely connected world science information network, based on voluntary cooperation of existing and future information services, UNISIST remained a promotional and catalytic programme organized along the following five programme objectives:
(1) Improving tools of systems interconnection
(2) Strengthening the institutional components of the information transfer chain
(3) Developing specialized information manpower, especially in the developing countries
(4) Developing scientific information policies and national networks
(5) Assisting member states, especially the developing countries, in creating and developing their scientific and technical information infrastructures
During its implementation, increasing attention was given to "technology," in addition to "science," and to the needs of the developing countries. In fact, the feasibility study had come under criticism at the UNISIST I conference for its lack of adequate attention to the specific situations in the developing countries.
The Intergovernmental Conference on Scientific and Technological Information for Development (UNISIST II) convened in 1979 [28, 29] evaluated the work achieved so far under the UNISIST programme. The original recommendations of the 1971 conference, the strategy adopted, and the programme activities carried out were thought to have been sound. Much had been achieved, but a great deal more needed to be done. Many countries had yet to develop coherent national information policies, to set up and coordinate the necessary information infrastructures, and to establish systematic programmes for education of information workers and users, who now ranged from economic planners to "grassroots" workers in local communities.
The emphasis on "science" in the original UNISIST programme had been thought by the developing countries to indicate a primary concern with the "elite" and thus to bypass many of the basic information requirements and needs of the most deprived international partners. The developing countries had not fully appreciated, in the early 1970s, the emphasis given to information technology, the systems approach, and the accent on standardization with a view to interconnecting systems. At the time, real information concerns in the third world were much closer to the preoccupations of the librarians and archivists facing everyday problems of poor collections, low budgets, lack of adequate space, lack of trained manpower, need for simple equipment, etc. UNISIST was perceived as being too sophisticated for the developing countries. Pure science was felt to be the realm of the industrialized countries, whereas the developing ones needed applied sciences, technology, know-how, and relatively simple solutions to social and economic problems.
In fact Unesco had at the time - in the early 1970s - another programme that addressed these library, documentation, and archives issues. The overlap between these programmes was such that in order to avoid risks of duplication, competition, and conflicting advice and opposing approaches to problems, the General Conference of Unesco combined them and created in 1976 the General Information Programme (PGI) .
3.2 The PGI and UNISIST 11
The inclusion of libraries and archives, together with a programme conceived for scientific and technical information, under the General Information Programme was accomplished within the basic structure that had been designed for UNISIST:
- promotion of the formulation of information policies and plans
- promotion and dissemination of methods, norms, and standards for in formation handling
- contribution to the development of information infrastructures
- contribution to the development of specialized information systems
- promotion of the training and education of specialists in and users of in formation
The PGI was formed concurrently with the launching of Unesco's first Medium-Term Plan (1977-1982). The integration of issues related to library, documentation, and archives services with those related to the transfer of scientific and technical information proved smoother and easier than expected. However, the international scientific community, represented through the ICSU, felt that it had lost its specific programme in this new marriage and was never reconciled with the way the new programme evolved.
By 1979, when UNISIST II was convened, it was obvious that a majority of member states were concerned with the role science and technology played in the development process. It was generally felt that humanity was confronted with a set of problems that needed all the wisdom, intelligence, and generosity it could muster to solve them. To the difficulties caused by the energy crisis were added those created by threats against peace, the deterioration of the environment, the disorder of international commerce, unemployment, political and social tensions, hunger, and the dramatic gap existing between the standard of living in the richer and that in the poorer countries. There was cause for concern, but not alarm. Man can use knowledge to solve these problems. The wise use of knowledge presupposes the efficient management of information .
During the 1960s development and progress had been regarded to a large extent as synonymous; and for many developing countries "development" meant striving to reach in two or three decades the stage that had then been reached by the industrialized countries. By the end of the 1970s perceptions of the development process had changed. Developing countries were seeking a type of development that was endogenous, that is, more closely related to their own cultures and traditions; they were concerned with the social and economic consequences of the applications of imported technology. Developing countries wanted information relevant to national needs and objectives. Without relevant information, decision makers cannot choose the best courses of action. If information systems and services were to play an effective role in the solution of development problems, they had to be designed accordingly. It was widely accepted that access to information somehow contributed to development, although as has often been pointed out [14, 21], there has been little research, collection of hard data, or verification of the assumption that there is a well-established correlation between information and development. However, it was known that highly developed countries used 2-3 per cent of the R&D expenditures for STI activities, while for the developing countries this figure fell to a few per mills. Even if the connection between development and information had not been established, it was intuitively accepted as a fact.
It was in this frame of mind that the UNISIST II conference met in May 1979. There was wide agreement at the conference  that building up national ability to generate, handle, disseminate, and retrieve information was a paramount task of an international cooperative programme such as Unesco's, since without this ability, such goals as improving access to and the flow and use of information would be difficult to reach. But in this area, as in others, Unesco could act only as a catalyst. The success of its action depended on member states freely accepting their share of responsibility for sustaining effective action.
Political, economic, social, and cultural conditions varied so much from country to country that advice on how to develop information policies and infrastructures could only be of an indicative kind. The experience of developed countries was not necessarily relevant to the developing ones, and a great deal of imaginative adaptation was necessary.
The conference strongly felt that information users deserved greater attention. It discerned a wide variety of users engaged in the development process and advocated the design and supply of tailor-made services to meet the various needs. This implied the selection and evaluation of published information and its presentation in forms suitable for defined audiences. Repackaged information was needed both at the levels of policy makers and planners and at the grass-roots of development in rural areas and small enterprises. Since all sorts of information in a variety of subjects and in different forms and on a variety of supports were thought to be useful for development, the accent was placed for the first time at the intergovernmental level on the social "function" of information. This outlook has since been further developed and expanded to form the notion of "professional information" .
Concerning the application of new information technologies, the developing countries needed clear and unbiased explanations of what the new technologies could, and could not, do for them and to have as support further demonstration of services based on new technologies. Developing countries also needed cheap access to on-line services, since long-distance telephone costs were prohibitive for most users. New forms of training were in great demand.
A primary role for Unesco could be summarized as mobilizing "seed" money or "pump-priming" money for the creation of information policies and structures, systems and services, and training programmes in countries of different stages of development, so as to lead them to the point where their progress could become self-generating. This role implied a broad range of activities but, given limited resources, it also implied a strict identification of priorities for action. The priorities were in the areas of education and training and infrastructure building. A criticism often addressed to Unesco/ PGI was that the funds available for the programme were not commensurate with the wide variety of tasks to be performed, which resulted sometimes in spreading the budget very thinly and the risk of minimized impact.
The General Information Programme was gradually modified to approach as nearly as possible the new orientation recommended by UNISIST II. It became an interdisciplinary and intersectoral programme applied to the natural and to the social and human sciences. The Second Medium-Term Plan of Unesco, which defined the conceptual framework, goals, and action strategies from 1984 to 1989, defined the role of the PGI as: "to facilitate general access to information, to promote its free flow and to expand Member States' capacity to exchange, store and use information needed for development." The centre of gravity of the programme remained scientific and technical information, but changes from the previous plan included an insistence on information as a prerequisite for economic and social development; a strong emphasis on user-oriented systems and services and the problem of information underutilization; a marked concern with questions related to new technologies, the creation of databases in the developing countries, and the provision of software packages; an increased emphasis on developing tertiary information sources; an insistence on an adequate balance in the activities between information, libraries, and archives and the importance of regional approaches and collaboration.
The tasks carried out by the PGI were grouped under the following programmes and subprogrammes:
1. Improvement of access to information: modern technologies, standardization and interconnection of information systems(a) Development of tools for the processing and transfer of information
(b) Development and use of databases through the application of modern technologies and normative tools
(c) Exchange and flow of information: regional and international cooperation among member states and with the organizations of the United Nations system
2. Infrastructures, policies, and training required for the processing and dissemination of specialized information(a) National information policies and infrastructures
(b) Training of information personnel and information users
The impact and achievements of the programme are recorded in several documents, such as the biennial Report of the Director-General on the Activities of the Organization, the so-called C/3 series. Another set, known as the C/11 series, constitutes a statement and evaluation of Major Impacts, Achievements, Difficulties and Shortfalls for each programme activity of Unesco. Two articles, by Parker  and Roberts  respectively, provide useful overall reviews, rich with detailed examples of the wealth of guidelines, studies, and publications produced under the programme over the years.
One aspect of this programme deserves particular attention with respect to the theme of the Kyoto symposium: regional cooperation. Under this subprogramme, regional cooperative schemes requested by member states were encouraged and supported. Countries often find it easier to collaborate within the same region or subregion, as we saw earlier in the case of EURONET, for a number of reasons, including language, geographical vicinity, similarity of social and economic political and legal ties, etc. The projects undertaken have been fairly successful and have received strong encouragement and active participation. The weakness in these regional ventures, sponsored by Unesco in the developing countries, has been the paucity of funds. The seed money made available by Unesco in addition to the national contributions has often not been sufficient to reach the sums required for these schemes to progress as fast as they deserved and meet the regional demands. This is obviously not the case when substantial additional funds are made available from extra-budgetary sources, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as was the case for the setting up of the Arab League Documentation Centre (ALDOC).
We may cite as an illustration of successful regional projects CARSTIN, the Caribbean Regional Scientific and Technical Information Network, intended to build up scientific and technical information infrastructures, create a framework for information exchange, and enhance national capacity for handling and using STI. Other interesting examples are the Regional Programme for Strengthening Cooperation among Information Networks and Systems for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (INFOLAC); the Asia and Pacific Information Network on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (APINMAP); and the Regional Network for the Exchange of Information and Experience in Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific (ASTINFO) [16, 20].
The objectives of ASTINFO are (a) to strengthen bibliographic control of each member country's own scientific and technological output, establish databases in subjects of interest to the region, supported by clearing-houses and document-delivery services; (b) to stimulate and promote the creation of non-bibliographic databases in science, technology, and certain socioeconomic fields of importance to development in the region; (e) to develop the basis for cross-border exchange of data and information; (d) to improve national information infrastructures; (e) to create in each country a national node; (f) to introduce new and innovative information services; (g) to train information specialists; and (h) to promote and market existing information services.
According to the ASTINFO Independent Evaluation Report , ASTINFO's major impact has been in the area of training scientific and technical information personnel, particularly in the use of computerized systems; the distribution and utilization of the CDS/ISIS software package; the creation of a considerable pool of expertise within the region for the utilization of the software package; and the demonstration of the use of information technology, on-line access, the use of CD-ROM, and similar tools.
Regional and subregional information networks are also emerging in specialized fields such as - in the case of Unesco - marine sciences, microbiology, renewable energy, and the chemistry of natural products.
As we pass from the Second to the Third Medium-Term Plan of Unesco (1990-1995), we can witness further significant changes in emphasis and environment.
First of all, the PGI was relocated to a newly created sector on Communication, Information, and Informatics (CII). Each of the three programmes constituting the sector has so far maintained its identity and specificity, but links will be strengthened resulting, on the one hand, from the convergence of technologies and their impact on society and, on the other, from the benefits to be derived from cooperative implementation of projects and activities, whenever feasible. It seems that a whole momentum has been initiated that will lead the way to a movement of cooperation and harmonization between the programmes of Communication, Information, and Informatics. The future will reveal how far this cooperation will go. At the Twenty-sixth Session of the Unesco General Conference, delegates were opposed to integration of the programmes under CII, but they endorsed coordination.
One of the significant changes in the present biennial set of activities for the PGI (1992-1993) is the disappearance of STI as a visible entity . This fact, which was deplored by a large number of delegates at the General Conference, deserves to be analysed.
We have seen how UNISIST, a programme essentially created for the promotion of STI, was conceived in the late 1960s and launched in the early 1970s. We saw how it expanded by the early 1980s to be concerned with information for development, broadly defined, and to achieve a satisfactory balance between activities in information, libraries, and archives.
During the first biennium (1990-1991) of the Third Medium-Term Plan (19901995), the activities of the PGI were grouped under the following headings:
- Conceptual and methodological framework
- Information services and networks in science and technology
- Libraries Archives
- Intergovernmental Council, subventions to NGOs, PGI Documentation Centre
In the second biennium (1992-1993), the PGI's activities are grouped under the following headings:
- Methodological framework, regional strategies and training
- Libraries and documentation units
- Coordination of the PGI
The disappearance of the heading "Information Services and Networks in Science and Technology" triggered at the General Conference a series of interventions deploring the disappearance of STI as an obvious major component of the PGI even though activities dealing with STI remained scattered under various headings of the programme. As we have seen, no agency of the United Nations, other than Unesco, had developed a programme for the promotion and coordination of STI systems and services, at the national, regional, and international levels. Unesco has had the leadership in this area within the United Nations for the last quarter of a century.
At this point, a reference to the ICSU is necessary.
With the encouragement of the ICSU Executive Board and the active collaboration of the ICSTI, CODATA conducted a survey in 1991 on current perceptions of problems in accessing STI  to see what new role the ICSU could play, in addition to the many activities related to information and data transfer carried out by the unions in their respective disciplines and by CODATA, the ICSU Panel on World Data Centers, and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The survey considered the issue inter alia under the following headings:
(a) Restrictions on transmission across national
boundaries. No political barriers to the transfer of STI across national
boundaries seem to preoccupy scientists today. "Any scientific information
publicly available in one country appears to be accessible also to scientists in
other countries. In fact, the major information services do operate on an
international basis; the location of the computer containing the database which
a user is accessing is usually transparent to him" . The great concern with
"trans-border data flow" of the early 1980s seems to shade off, although some
continue to fear that governments may be tempted to restrict data outflow.
(b) Pricing policies and economic issues. There is concern about the high cost of electronic access to STI. There exists a wide variety of pricing policies and cost-recovery practices. The cost of creating and operating electronic databases obviously must be borne by someone, but wide variations in current practices exist from country to country, between different government agencies within the same country, and from one discipline to another. "The replies [to the survey] suggested confusion and concern but did not pinpoint a clearly-defined problem amenable to solution by ICSU."
(c) Information needs of the academic community. Discounts to academic users are sometimes offered. Most respondents to the survey favoured some form of price reduction for educational institutions. The fact that many university libraries cannot afford to purchase needed journals and books is not a simple problem of access to STI "but an integral part of the much broader problem of inadequate support to basic scientific research."
(d) Barriers that result from efforts of database owners to protect their intellectual property from unauthorized redistribution or other illegal practices. Most vendors seem to be moving toward a philosophy of charging on the basis of the amount of information delivered and permitting recipients to use that information as they wish. There is, nevertheless, a certain tension between the providers of STI who wish to protect the "added value" to the raw data and the scientific users "who reason that the scientific community created the information and therefore should have unhindered use of it." A balance between these points of view "will have to be established, but this will take time, and it is not clear how ICSU can influence the process."
In conclusion, the survey suggested several areas where CODATA and the ICSTI might expand the types of activities they have traditionally carried out (e.g. education and training, preparation of directories, standardization of formats and classification systems). In regard to the ICSU itself, the study does not indicate a need for a new ICSU activity on STI other than "to issue a statement of principle regarding the importance of effective information flow to the health of science" .
It should be stressed at this point that two of the above-mentioned issues remain at the heart of the debates in the industrialized countries and are reflected in the current published literature. First is the issue related to the consideration of information as a commodity versus a (subsidized) public good made available on a non-fee basis. And second is the problem of restriction to access. For example, in the United States, the 1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS) recommended that neither the Congress nor the Executive Branch shall abridge or restrict the right to public information through inappropriate classification, untimely declassification, or privatization of public information, nor should decisions be made to eliminate information collection and dissemination programmes for solely budgetary reasons .
A set of questions come to mind: Now that Unesco/PGI has modified its traditional balance in favour of libraries and that STI has lost its visibility, has not a gap been created? Should this gap be filled? Is there a need for an international focal point for STI? Will Unesco recapture this function in the future, or will information be amalgamated more and more with informatics and communication in Unesco international programmes of cooperation? Should not other governmental and non-governmental organizations strengthen their contributions in the area of STI ? Is STI an appropriate concept for international cooperation, or should one rather focus on the social use of information ?
The analysis of Unesco's programmes in STI has sketched the information needs and requirements of the international community and the evolution and changes in strategies of an international cooperative programme. The analysis of the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), also known under the name "Vienna Conference," of 1979, will describe another international effort to improve access to STI, using a different approach.
We have seen that the UNISIST II Intergovernmental Conference that met in Paris in May 19;'9 - three months before the convening of UNCSTD in Vienna had emphasized the need to strengthen national capabilities to handle and use STI as a prerequisite for the developing countries to effectively participate in international efforts and achieve better access to the international reservoir of scientific and technical information, data, and know-how.
The UNISIST II conference addressed a resolution to UNCSTD in this respect emphasizing the importance of the "national level" and recalling that
. . . (f) given that national and international information services and systems develop in a compatible fashion, it will be technically feasible to establish, gradually and stepwise, flexible, co-operative international networks of information systems and services for the exchange of scientific and technical information; (g) the establishment of these networks will necessitate substantial resources and will need to be sustained by a continuous effort of goodwill and collaboration among nations and international systems; (h) the creation, maintenance, and development of national information infrastructures in developing countries necessitate large financial assistance without which it would be impossible to achieve these objectives in a satisfactory manner; . . .
The Unesco resolution further invited UNCSTD, when elaborating guidelines for future action, to take full advantage of the considerable experience accumulated by Unesco, through UNISIST, and by other United Nations agencies, and invited the conference to "avoid the creation of new programmes and structures within the United Nations system which could duplicate the work of existing agencies; . . . " 
This message was not heard in Vienna.
At its closing plenary meeting, UNCSTD adopted a Programme of Action. This programme dealt, in paragraphs 30 to 33, with scientific and technological information systems. The topic had been the subject of controversy. In fact, the conference report contains in Annex l "issues of the draft Programme of Action on which agreement was not reached at the Conference." As a follow-up, the Intergovernmental Committee on Science and Technology for Development and a secretariat, the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development (also referred to as UNCSTD), were developed.
Regarding STI, the Programme of Action foresaw the setting up of a new mechanism under UN auspices called GIN - the Global Information Network . Rather than building GIN gradually from the foundations up as recommended by UNISIST II, the UNCSTD conference advocated what could be called a "top-down" approach. Each country would have a national node, while a global central node would be created under UN auspices. The network would operate as a channelling mechanism facilitating contact between users and suppliers of information. Each national node would have the information-on-information for its country; the global central node would have it for the world at large. In cases of difficulty of obtaining a response from any other national node, the global node would take measures to ensure that the required information is provided. The accent was not only on published STI, but more particularly on know-how; on "foreign sources of technology supply, its terms, conditions and costs of all major factors and components contributing to the use and application of technology, to enable comparative evaluations to be made"; conditions of licensing, identification of suitable experts, engineers and consulting services, and the like .
The implementation of GIN met with many obstacles. Its establishment was an enormous task that could have been possible in the form of an evolutionary process taking place over several years during which considerable efforts and large financial resources would have had to be made by national administrations, regional intergovernmental organizations and the United Nations system, as well as the international scientific community at large.
This did not take place. Funds were not made available, probably because potential donors did not really believe in the proposed scheme. The UNCSTD conference had been essentially a political forum, where the voices of the scientists and the technical experts in the information sciences, telecommunication, and informatics were not heard. Also at stake were sensitive areas, such as know-how; terms, conditions, and costs of foreign sources of technologies; licensing conditions; and commercial interests. There was a widespread belief that GIN was an over-ambitious dream for which no serious systems design or cost evaluations had been done. One of the major obstacles, as was pointed out at UNISIST II and that is experienced in every international information effort, is the situation in many developing countries that were invited to become partners in the network. Lack of human and material resources, absence of information flow between decision makers and the productive sector, inadequacy of telecommunications and computer facilities, lack of trained manpower, difficulties in accessing primary documents, and the prevailing difficult overall social and economic conditions prevented many countries from seriously considering the proposed scheme, unless substantial investments could somehow have been made available to the developing countries. Most UN agencies had not made any specific budget provisions for their participation in GIN, considering instead some of their ongoing activities as contributions to the overall effort .
In 1989, 10 years after the Vienna Conference, the Intergovernmental Committee on Science and Technology for Development devoted its tenth session to the end-of-decade review of the implementation of the Programme of Action . It was concluded that the accomplishments during the 1980s had fallen far short of the objectives sought by the Programme of Action, except in a limited number of areas. The Global Information Network was not among these areas. As a matter of fact, the concept seems to have been altogether abandoned.
On the other hand, particular attention was given in the report to new technologies associated with development. Two distinct categories were identified: (1) technologies with relatively affordable R&D intensity, such as biotechnologies and energy technologies in which practically every country can hope to participate, and (2) technologies with high R&D intensities, such as information technologies, micro-electronics, microcomputers, and telecommunication and space technologies, whose core aspects of invention and development are presently centred in a handful of countries. Most developing countries and many developed countries could at best only participate in the innovative adaptation and use of these technologies .
A lesson that can be drawn from this experience is that an important impetus for successful international cooperation in the transfer of information is political. In Vienna, the developing countries insisted on having the Global Information Network, while the industrialized countries were opposed to it. The concept was retained in the Programme of Action but could not be implemented. The case of INIS, the International Nuclear Information System, also illustrates the importance of international political consensus. Woolston  explains that the member states of the United Nations wanted INIS
not so much for its intrinsic values as an information system, but because it represented a breakthrough from the Cold War and an early step towards a US-Soviet detente in the nuclear field. The politicians were right and, after the agreement on INIS, along came the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
If the political will is there, funds can always be found and enough pressure can be exercised to reach international agreement on technical matters. In the case of INIS, participating countries agreed in a relatively short time on all aspects of the system. This was also the case, as we have seen, for EURONET DIANE, where technical problems were gradually solved once the political will existed.
Another conclusion of the GIN experience may be that since the new information technologies evolve so fast, it may be practically impossible to design such a rigid system on a global level. Flexibility is essential. And, as was suggested earlier, a more realistic approach would have been to build the system from the foundations up, by trying at the same time to cope with some of the most urgent problems and obstacles in the developing countries.
What should not be lost sight of in the above analysis of the attempts and problems encountered in trying to establish GIN is the fact that it represented yet another cry of the developing world for better access to information relevant to their needs. GIN may be criticized on conceptual and technical grounds, but the fact remains that a visible and still growing imbalance does exist among countries in their ability to access and use STI.
In this respect, before concluding, a few further remarks are called for regarding the developing countries, although, on the one hand, many references to their needs, requirements, and problems have already been made and, on the other, the panel in Session 2B, "Achievements and Limitations in International Cooperation As Seen by the Developing Countries," will treat the subject.