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Four worlds is too much

In the parlance of twentieth century socioeconomics, the developed regions of the world were known collectively as the First World, the Second World referred to the communist bloc, while in Third place were the nations existing in abject poverty and with serious disease endemic, what we now refer to, ironically given so little has changed, as the Developing World.

Writing in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Private Law, UK researchers suggest that the twenty-first century may be scarred by the emergence of a Fourth World of regions lacking information and communications technology.

Mhairi Aitken and Diego Quiroz-Onate of the Aberdeen Business School at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK, argue that society is increasingly reliant on technology and the importance of access to new technologies, particularly ICT, cannot be underestimated. The networked society is the successful society they imply. "Being part of 'networks' and having access to modern technologies is essential for an individual to fulfil their 'right to development'," they assert and, "As such, ethical and legal questions are posed as to whether people have a right to technologies and, moreover, whose responsibility it is to facilitate this right."

Their work builds on one of the most important sociological theories of our time, Castells' Network Society, developed by Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells Oliván.

The State is responsible under Article 8 of the Declaration on the Right to Development to take all necessary measures for the realisation of the right and ensure "equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income." Aitken and Quiroz-Onate argue that implicit in this declaration is the right to ICT access. Without this right we are likely to see the emergence of a Fourth World inhabited by those who are information poor, lack ICT resources and infrastructure and are unconnected to the networks of modern global society.

"If we recognise that all human rights, including the right to development, are universal, indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, we cannot deny the central and extremely significant role of ICTs, and in particular the internet, to furthering social and economic development," they say."

Albert Ang | alfa
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