13 September 2004
Three-Day DPI/NGO Conference Aimed at Assessing Progress towards Meeting Global Development Goals Concludes at Headquarters
NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) -- The Millennium Development Goals are not ours, theyre yours, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), Mark Malloch-Brown, told a vibrant group of civil society representatives this evening upon the conclusion of their three-day Conference at Headquarters.
Championing attainment of the Millennium Development Goals at the closing of the fifty-seventh annual Conference of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), civil society representatives urged action, beyond the meeting, to forge stronger, results-based partnerships between themselves, governments and the United Nations.
Four years after adoption by the world leaders of the eight development Goals, and following intensive campaigns to promote their implementation amid persistent and seemingly intractable obstacles, more than 1,800 representatives from 540 organizations based in 93 countries had come together at Headquarters for three days to assess the progress and consider the way forward.
The Goals, adopted by world leaders at the Millennium Summit, bound countries in the fight against poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation. The eighth goal pressed the developed countries to relieve debt, increase aid and give poor countries fair access to markets and technology.
During the Conference, participants held several workshops and day-long panels on such topics as: assessing progress; overcoming obstacles; building North/South partnerships; and raising awareness of the Goals. The collective voice of global citizens was heard at a public hearing this afternoon.
A range of themes and proposals emerged during the public hearing this afternoon. Among them was the suggestion for the creation of a web site to help non-governmental organization (NGOs), in both developed and developing countries, bridge the gaps in knowledge, and the possible elaboration of new development paradigms to safeguard people with special needs. Questions were also asked about what civil society could do to prevent the power brokers from hijacking the partnerships, and how the Goals could make a difference to war-weary women.
The anchor from CNN International, Zain Verjee, moderated the response of the following panellists: Jacques Attali, President, PlaNet Finance; Mr. Malloch-Brown, Administrator, UNDP, and Chair, UNDG; and Kavita Ramdas, President, Global Fund for Women.
Delivering the keynote address for the sessions closing was Mr. Attali, President, PlaNet Finance, who said that NGOs represented the forefront of what the future would be -- a world of diversity, tolerance and respect for others. Meanwhile, many of the Goals were not being attained, and not only in Africa. In the years to come, poverty would affect not just a quarter of the world but half of the world. Yet, now more than ever, the world had the technical, financial and political means to solve the problems.
Also in closing, Co-Chair of the Conference, Joan Kirby, thanked the many planners who had provided the Conference with a richness and diversity of speakers. She had heard a number of important points, including the need to change power relationships and put women in leadership position for the attainment of the Goals. Add youth, and then we have a dynamite proposition. She had also heard that the market economy could not eradicate poverty because the poorest were too poor to participate in the market. So, there was a need to give and not sell. She had always referred to the Goals as humanitarian, but she now understood that economic policy was at the very heart of their achievement. She also heard reinforced that development and security were interdependent. She urged participants to take home those and other lessons and to continue to dedicate themselves to relieving the misery of the world.
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations, Shashi Tharoor, hailed the NGOs for having been innovative and having put pressure on governments to join the effort to help change peoples lives. As had been suggested during the Conference by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, Jeffrey Sachs, the next
12 months would be critical in getting the Goals on track. The target date of 2015 was not so far away and, at that time, everyone here would be held accountable for their successes and failures by those most in need of our help, Mr. Tharoor said.
This morning, the Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Salil Shetty, moderating a panel on campaigns, said that, for the first time in human history, there was a grand-scale political commitment to assign responsibility for achieving the targets to both developed and developing countries, and to stop pointing fingers, at each other while poor people continued to suffer. Although the Goals had become an important rallying point for the developing community as whole, progress in implementing them had not been satisfactory. He stressed the critical need to create political will, for which citizen campaigns were key.
Drawing attention to the social isolation often experienced by people infected with HIV/AIDS, Olayinka Jegede-Ekpe, head of the NGO, Nigerian Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, said that, as a woman living with the disease, she understood that it was a developmental and political issue. She wondered how well people living with HIV, especially women, had been integrated into the programmes of NGOs. Without their proper integration, no science in the world would solve the epidemic, and that would compromise attainment of the Goals.
The other panellists this morning were: Oded Grajew, President, Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social, Brazil; Jennifer Corriero, Executive Director, TakingITGlobal; and Paloma Villaseñor, Fundación Colosio, Mexico.
The fifty-seventh annual DPI/NGO Conference convened another panel this morning, entitled Making MDGs Relevant: Taking the Campaigns Home. The Conference was expected to close this afternoon with a public hearing, in which participants will have the opportunity to voice their views.
SALIL SHETTY, Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that, for the first time in human history, there was a political commitment on a grand scale to assign responsibility to developed and developing countries and to stop, once and for all, pointing fingers at each other while poor people continued to suffer. Now, four years down the road, the Millennium Development Goals had become a very important rallying point for the developing community as a whole. For the first time, a set of measurable outcomes, along with monitoring mechanisms, had been put in place. Many countries were on track to achieving some, or many, of the Goals. For the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Goals had been at the heart of their work, long before they were adopted at the Millennium Summit. Most NGO representatives had dedicated their organizations and their lives to dealing with those issues. For them, it was not a matter of statistics, but of real people and real issues.
He said that, for the NGOs on the ground, however, progress had not been satisfactory. There was still a lot of rhetoric and not enough action. Nobody could claim that a lack of resources was the reason the Goals were not being achieved in certain places. Participants should look at global spending for arms and conflict. So, nobody could make the excuse that there was not enough money or technical knowledge. For the first time in human history, it was possible to wipe out want in its extreme forms. The way was known -- only a lack of will impeded progress. Creating the necessary political will meant translating the rhetoric into reality. In developing countries, that meant translating global goals into national and local realities, ensuring adequate financing and ensuring that resources actually reached people in need in a transparent and accountable manner. In the developed countries, that meant, among other things, meeting the commitment of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) for official development assistance (ODA), writing off sustainable debt, and eliminating agricultural subsidies that affected the poor.
Political will could be created only by citizens holding their governments to account, he stressed. The NGOs had realized more and more that their isolated activities could have a much greater impact if they got together, including with national and international actors, who had a greater reach. He drew attention to several campaigns where citizen action had made a difference, such as the landmines campaign and the womens movement. Creating political will was absolutely essential. For that, citizen campaigns were key. Four years after adoption of the Goals, many people in positions of power still had not heard of the Goals. Thankfully, more awareness campaigns were pressing harder in an advocacy role.
ODED GRAJEW, President, Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social, Brazil, said that the United Nations had always been important in the area of promoting corporate responsibility. Business often did not understand much about social issues. His organization was working on corporate responsibility, which included not only philanthropy, but also how businesses impacted every person with what they came in contact. It was also working with the media to highlight priorities vis-à-vis achieving the Goals. He noted that people always heard a lot about the nearly 3,000 people that died on 9/11, but no one heard about the 30,000 children that died every day from hunger. He felt the United Nations must be more committed with the Goals, for example, by more closely linking the Global Compact with them.
To promote the Goals in Brazil, his organization had brought together NGOs, unions and social movements to begin a huge advertising campaign to inform the people what the Goals were. Among other initiatives, the main theme of the recent national week for citizenship and solidarity in August was the Goals. The week was inaugurated by President Lula of Brazil and other political and civil society leaders, and there were many events in schools and universities on how to achieve the Goals. The Government was now presenting its report and the national budget would be focused on achieving the Goals.
During the upcoming General Assembly, he said that President Lula would be inviting 60 world leaders to an event on 20 September at which he would present his proposals on how to mobilize civil society and governments to finance and achieve the Goals. His proposals would include actions that could be taken by both civil society and government. For example, if governments could have a 0.7 per cent of GNP target for international assistance to achieve the Goals, why couldnt individuals also give 0.7 per cent of their income towards achieving the Goals?
JENNIFER CORRIERO, Executive Director, TakingITGlobal, said that over 50 per cent of the worlds population was under the age of 25. That presented a tremendous challenge and opportunity. Young people were the worlds greatest untapped resource, especially in terms of the development goals. Her organization had offered many strategies and tactics, aimed at integrating young people as true partners in development across civil society, government and business. Participants in the Conference should give more thought to the ways in which the involvement of youth could be furthered in existing organizations and institutions, including at the level of programme coordinators. The role of young people would be strengthened if it was consistently valued and honoured.
She said that the overarching strategy of TakingITGlobal was to involve youth in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. That strategy had four components, as follows: gathering the facts, including youth perspectives in the campaigns; getting the word out; mobilizing for action, which meant supporting youth-led development; and involving youth in policy-making. Each month, her organization pursued a different theme. Last month, for example, it had focused on the plight of refugees, and this months theme was the role of music in promoting implementation of the Goals.
The aim was to create a visible platform to highlight the work of young people and showcase the hope and possibility represented by it, she explained. Not involving youth today would lead to a loss of inspiration for youth tomorrow. In the World Summit on the Information Society, which took place last December in Geneva, TakingITGlobal had served as facilitator for the youth caucus. The outcomes had been outstanding. The paragraph in the outcome text for youth had drawn attention to the need to involve young people as key stakeholders in the information society. Many were natural leaders in that field.
OLAYINKA JEGEDE-EKPE, Executive Director, Nigerian Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, spoke from the perspective of a woman living with AIDS in Nigeria. HIV was a developmental and political issue, as well as a social one. The prevalence of HIV in pregnant women in Nigeria had risen. Her organization included women both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. It was formed to help reduce some of the pressures faced by such women. More HIV-infected women were now seeking services.
How well were people living with HIV, especially women, integrated into the programmes of NGOs? she asked. Her organization was formed to counter the social isolation often experienced by those infected by HIV/AIDS. It provided peer support and helped members cope with stigma and discrimination. Most people with AIDS, especially women, became unemployed. They needed more than just counselling. People lost their prejudice against those with HIV when they came in contact with them and spent time with them.
Women were still subjected to all sorts of mistreatment, she noted. With the right kind of policies, it would be possible to educate and empower women about their rights. While there had been several programmes, it was now important to determine how well those programmes had worked in changing the mindsets of the common man on the street. Her organization was involved in the training of HIV positive women as counsellors, caregivers and public speakers. It also taught HIV positive women positive living strategies, as well as held sensitization rallies and treatment literacy programmes. More gender-sensitive media programmes were needed.
Also needed were more programmes for women and adolescent girls in Nigeria, as women had a key role to play in HIV/AIDS prevention and support, she said. In addition, consent prior to testing should be the norm at all test centres. HIV positive women did not have access to free caesarean section, or access to breast milk substitutes, both of which could lessen the rate of mother to child transmission. More programmes to enable HIV-positive women to become financially independent, as well as proper budget tracking and monitoring of funds, were also important. If women were not properly integrated into programmes, no science in the world would solve the epidemic.
PALOMA VILLASEÑOR, Fundación Colosio, Mexico, said her proposals aimed to suggest a series of strategies for society as a whole to fully assume the Millennium Development Goals. The Goals were a feasible alternative for governments around the world, so that they could reposition the human being as a central element of their plans and actions. For that reason, endorsement of the Goals by all countries must be fostered by society, which, in turn, would facilitate compliance. She proposed the following steps, among others: a great campaign through the electronic media to spread the word about the Goals and call on citizens to promote their achievement; embark on a campaign to explain the nature of the Goals and set agreements between the art and media communities; and call for the inclusion of an essay on the Goals in schools to familiarize young people with the Goals, thereby orienting their natural idealism and solidarity. Youth was the best guarantee for meeting the targets by 2015. The best strategy to set society in motion was to promote the participation today of the adults of tomorrow.
She proposed, as a further step, the need to ensure parliamentarians knowledge of the goals and commitment to them. For the last measure, she suggested the following: define the most important parliamentarians and commissions; promote encounters among the foundations that had contacts with the political parties to ensure inclusion of the Goals in the electoral platforms; create a citizen forum to evaluate, on a yearly basis, progress in implementation and to disseminate the conclusions of that evaluation. The non-governmental organizations could spur solidarity and compromise among politicians, leading to achievement of the Goals by 2015.
In the question-and-answer session that followed, Mr. GRAJEW proposed that a permanent exhibition be established about the Millennium Development Goals at the United Nations, so that everyone who came to the United Nations could be reminded of the Goals.
Asked how business leaders could be convinced to join the campaign, he said that companies that were not socially responsible should be punished. The business sector was the most powerful sector of society. Businesses had money, economic power and technology. And the media was the hand of the business sector. No one believed that the war in Iraq was for democracy. It was about oil and business interests. That was why the agenda of the business sector must be directed towards social and environmental issues.
Emphasizing the power of consumers, he said that businesses would change their behaviour based on consumer behaviour. If we want to see change, we must use this power. From what sort of companies were people buying products, those supporting war or those helping those with HIV?
He added that the Hunger Fund that President Lula was associated with was established in Johannesburg. It was estimated that $50 billion a year would be needed to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The money in the Hunger Fund should be managed by the United Nations, in order to, among other things, avoid corruption.
Ms. JEGEDE-EKPE noted that corruption was a big issue. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis channelled its funds through country coordinating mechanisms. In Nigeria, that mechanism was handled by a foundation. The only way to avoid corruption was tracking and monitoring. The meaningful participation of people living with HIV in the country coordinating mechanism was also important.
As to whether the Goals could be made an electoral issue, Mr. SHETTY pointed to the recent elections in El Salvador, in which a televised debate was held on how the candidates would help achieve the Goals in the country. Those governments not able to achieve the Goals faced the greatest threat. If they did not deliver, they might not be around for long. Regarding the United States, he noted that the level of awareness about the Goals was less in the United States than in Europe. The American public was very generous and assumed that their Government was equally generous. With the support of Bono and other celebrities, the One Campaign had been created, demanding that the United States Government put 1 per cent of its national budget towards international aid.
Regarding the digital divide, Ms. CORRIERO stressed that it was not only an issue of technology, but also an issue of access. Her organization was trying to provide access, working through various partnerships. Language was also an issue for meaningful access to technology. All the different aspects of the issue should be addressed.
Responding to a question about whether the developed countries were doing enough, Ms. JEGEDE-EKPE said that, no, they were not. More money was still needed globally, and it was only the rich countries that could provide that aid. They had to fulfil their promises. Most drugs, such as antiviral and opportunistic infection drugs, were manufactured in rich countries, so they should look into such bodies of law as intellectual property rights. As many Africans as possible should be kept alive, until the AIDS pandemic is reversed.
Ms. VILLASEÑOR applauded all successful movements in Mexico and elsewhere. Parliamentarians made law, but meeting the targets did not need the parliamentarians at their desks, but the NGOs on the ground who understood the people. Today was only the beginning. Much more intensive effort was needed to publicize and promote the Goals.
Mr. GRAJEW said that some wealthy countries were fulfilling their international commitments, including some Scandinavian countries. They were showing that, yes, it was possible. Besides, that was not a decision by governments, but a formal commitment.
Ms. CORRIERO said she agreed that the rich countries were not living up to their commitments. But, that was really about the governments not living up to their commitments. People in rich countries were too comfortable and they were not as affected by the issues. So, because they did not feel a sense of urgency, the governments did not feel pressures to live up to the promises. There should be a broader level of commitment among citizens; change would not happen only through governments.
In closing, the moderator said he hoped everyone was inspired either to start national campaigns or join them. The Millennium Campaign was involved with some 40 countries where national campaigns were under way. Its web site was under construction, and in a few weeks, would be accessed at the following address: MillenniumCampaign.org.
In terms of naming and shaming, he said that many reports were being published on compliance by rich countries. The non-governmental organizations, for their part, believed in action, and not just in talking. He was hoping for real, direct action from them and from governments, although the latter could not be expected to act on their own. All Conference participants were experts at prodding their governments. So, he urged them to go home and start prodding.
Opening the public hearing, ZAIN VERJEE, Anchor, CNN International, explained that representatives of 12 NGOs would pose questions and offer proposals to the following panellists: Jacques Attali, President, PlaNet Finance; Mark Malloch-Brown, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Chair, United Nations Development Group; and Kavita Ramdas, President, Global Fund for Women.
Ms. Verjee offered ways in which the NGOs could be effective in the daily news context. In the case of the Sudan, for example, whoever at the United Nations decided to call that the worlds worst humanitarian crisis deserved a nod, because that had put the story on the broadcasts. Her job was to cover the news stories of the day, but she always looked for sidebar stories in her newscast. The NGOs could explain to the media the link between the war on terror and poverty and development, for example. Out in the field, civil society representatives often had access where journalists did not. They should shoot material and send it to CNN. They could also pitch the publication of reports that had shocking figures, on which NGOs could put a human face. The NGOs should know the programmes and their mandates, and then pitch their ideas to the producers and reporters.
Mr. ATTALI said he had set up two relatively important NGOs -- Action against Hunger and PlaNet Finance. He urged participants to be politically incorrect in their questions, if they must. He wanted to hear from them, and he encouraged them to say how they thought the world was being managed today, what role they were playing, and how were they being shut out by governments, pressure groups and any structures lacking in legitimacy and transparency. Both sides of todays discussion should be frank; that would make the meeting useful, rather than one of self-congratulation.
Mr. MALLOCH-BROWN, Administrator of the UNDP and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, said that the Goals and support for them from NGOs were critical. The Conference was meeting at a time when the United Nations was gearing up the intergovernmental process for next years review of the Millennium Declaration. The overall track record since 2000 had not been great, in general, and had been uneven with regard to the Goals, in particular. While progress had been made in some areas of Asia, things were actually going backwards in Africa. Population growth was ahead of the modest economic gains being made. At the same time, the successes in Asia provided an opportunity to learn what could be done with the right investments.
He highlighted the need to make sure the voice of civil society was clearly and unequivocally heard. This is the moment. He had always believed that civil society was the key to achieving the Goals. Action and organization were needed to get the world back on track with the Goals.
KAVITA RAMDAS, President, Global Fund for Women, said that much was heard nowadays about the war on terror. Those who were talking about the Goals were also waging a war against terror: the terror of watching your children dying; the terror of not being able to make ends meet; and the terror of watching both your parents die and being left an AIDS orphan. Such terror killed thousands and thousands of people all over the world every day. Participants were sitting in the worlds most powerful and richest country, which was spending $850 billion for the terror war but had yet to meet the commitments it had made at the United Nations and various conferences. Millions of lives were on the line and the United Nations could not be the strong voice that it should be if the citizens of the world were not behind the Organization.
The United States would only be more secure when every child in Falluja was fed and could go to school, she said. It would not be more secure when it prevented foreigners and migrants from entering the United States. Also, there would not be more security when governments such as Senegal and Ethiopia were denied funds to achieve the Goals while at the same time being supplied with arms. There was no justification for setting double standards with the Goals. Goal number 8 was not negotiable and must have a clear timetable. She added that gender equality and justice were measured by womens position, role and status in all aspects of society, from the family to the highest institutions of governance.
Then, the first group of NGO representatives posed the following questions: what practical steps could be taken to further compliance with the Goals, drawing on the reconciliation experiences of NGOs in many countries; what kind of informal networks would the panellists recommend to better communicate information about the Goals and would they support the creation of a web site to help NGOs bridge the gaps of knowledge between and within the developed and developing countries; what new development paradigms could be replicated to safeguard people with special needs, and what code of references must be implemented to protect the whole person, the whole family, the whole community and the whole planet; what could civil society do to prevent power brokers from hijacking potential for partnerships through political corruption, self-serving aims and win/lose paradigms; and how could partnership become a way of being, thinking and living?
Responding to the NGOs comments, Mr. ATTALI said that todays world was one of anarchy, where disorder was growing and chaos was ahead. As long as there was no reversal in national priorities, the silly structure in which defence budgets would be ten times larger than budgets for the essential means for mankind would persist.
Mr. MALLOCH-BROWN said that the world was on the verge of dramatic change, which would only be seen after it happened. The Goals were modest in some ways, but they amounted to the first time that world leaders would end up living up to the commitments they signed onto. One lesson that intruded on the political consciousness of the West after 9/11 was that not only could the rich hurt the poor but the poor could hurt the rich. Through civil society, in a short generation, it would be possible to realise a genuine sense of global responsibility and global action. Another lesson was that governments were not good at doing a lot of things and that citizens organizations were better at doing them.
Ms. RAMDAS said that signs of both incredible hope and great disorder had been seen. Change did not happen in neat and orderly ways. One of the gifts of 9/11 was that everyone suffered terror, in one way or another, and that everyone was vulnerable. It was necessary to build on that. The United States was a country that had been one of the most philanthropic in the world. The question was how to leverage an understanding of shared humanity to hold governments accountable. Civil society must hold governments feet to the fire for the services they were supposed to provide.
In a second set of questions, the NGOs asked: how does the panel recommend support for cultural diversity and primary education in a way that instilled confidence, respect and self-love, along with learning, and in a way that promoted the second Goal, which would ensure that all boys and girls would complete primary school; what action could be taken to guarantee, beyond this meeting, that the voices of youth and their contribution to civil society would no longer be marginalized between the wheels of age-old bureaucracies from another era, where youth was seen and not heard, where vocal youth were tolerated by their elders, but not incorporated into social leadership; how could civil society be motivated to be aware of its responsibility in fighting HIV/AIDS; and how was it possible to incorporate ethical, moral and spiritual values into implementation of the Goals?
Responding to the question on how to guarantee that the voices of youth were heard, Mr. MALLOCH-BROWN said that the campaign to achieve the Goals was an open-ended process. Whatever the issue, the Goals must be the broad tent that allowed action on a range of issues. The Goals were achieved by the broad transformation of society. The results were that children were in school and families had health and decent opportunities.
Ms. RAMDAS suggested several ways to incorporate youth into the work of NGOs. First, organizations should establish an internship programme. Also, young did not necessary mean inexperienced. In addition, it was necessary to consider how decision-making in organizations reflected the views of youth.
On how to support cultural diversity and quality education, Mr. ATTALI said that solving the problem of education required governmental institutions. Education could not be left to private groups. Today, it was clear that creating the necessary conditions for providing education for all were not possible. The funds were simply not available. In an atmosphere where culture and education were just another commodity, quality tended to evaporate.
Asked how to motivate civil society to be aware of HIV/AIDS, Mr. MALLOCH-BROWN said that some regions did not need motivating. In Africa, for example, HIV/AIDS affected so many aspects of society that it could not be ignored. It was more difficult in those countries where the epidemic had not reached the same proportions. Catastrophe was in the making in certain countries, such as India and China. If there was a strong civil society, it had to have the courage to demand that government and community leaders respond. Social mobilization was needed not just around changes in behaviour, but around getting proper public health policies in place.
A third group of NGOs posed the following questions: how could transparency be counted upon with local, regional, national and international leaders to ensure that the real grass-roots needs were being addressed; do global leaders know that they must act in concert with the local level to achieve the Goals; did the panellists think that globalization, both in theory and practice, had diminished the fight or role of local or home-grown inputs towards sustainable development agendas; have the poor or marginalized been spoken for or about, rather than spoken to and with; how can the Goals reach into and be a real lifeline for local communities with real day-to-day needs; how could everyone act together to minimize resource demands upon the earth, while maximizing the well-being of the whole system; and, how was it possible to act together to open up direct funding channels to finance the earths restoration by communities and for communities?
Also: what inputs from the field shaped the Goals; what good were the Goals, if so few understood the concept; what was the core problem in communicating the message at all levels around the world; what specific campaigns and actions could be put into practice to change the public space where the Goals message could be received; what actions or symbols could sell the campaign, so that it was not just more United Nations rhetoric; what could be done to solve the urgent problems associated with poor sanitation and unclear water; what difference could the Goals make to war-weary and hungry women; what do the Goals offer to a warrior who steals a child from a mother or grandmothers arms; what could the United Nations, the international community and the NGO community do to prevent such injustice?
Mr. ATTALI said it was important to make the Goals better known. Not meeting the Goals carried no consequences. No head of State or leader would be fired if the Goals were not attained. He would like to see, alongside the Dow Jones Index, a survival index on how the Goals were progressing.
Asked if achieving the Goals was linked to whether a country was a democracy, Mr. MALLOCH-BROWN cited the example of China, whose development performance was very good, but was not a democracy. The broader issues of the Millennium Declaration were not adequately entrenched there. The United Nations tried to spur countries forward by focusing on areas in which they were making progress, while not letting them off the hook in areas where progress was lacking, such as human rights.
As to where the Goals came from, he said they came from you, from the conferences and summits of the 1990s. When he was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a huge part of the discussion with civil society and political leaders was why a country with such enormous natural resources such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not doing as well on the Goals as a country like Rwanda. Participants must leave here with a practical commitment to get involved in the Millennium Campaign.
He added that there was a much better chance of reaching the Goals than most people thought, with the right kind of investments. Movement was needed on several levels between now and next year, first and foremost, with regard to advocacy at the global and national levels. There was a huge campaign space to be seized and filled at the global and national levels. It was already known that successful service delivery required a partnership between governments and civil society.
Mr. ATTALI added that the match is not lost. However, one should have the courage to say that it was too late for Africa, unless the international community took dramatic steps.
The closing session was launched by SHASHI THAROOR, Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, and moderator of the Conference. He said that the Conference had been, above all, about partnership. More than 1,800 representatives from 540 organizations based in 93 countries had attended. He trusted they would take what they had learned and use it dramatically to extend the global reach of the messages everyone was seeking to communicate about what was needed to meet the Goals by the target date of 2015. As the Secretary-General had said at the opening meeting, there was no time to lose in ending poverty and putting the world on a more just and humane path.
Mr. Tharoor said that the NGOs had been innovative and had put pressure on governments to join the effort to help change peoples lives. The Secretary-General would be keen to hear the interventions made at the Conference, in light of the suggestions he would soon be making to promote implementation of the Goals.
Recalling several of those, Mr. Tharoor said that Jeffrey Sachs had stressed that the next 12 months would be critical in getting the Goals on track. In other words, work during the next year would have to be intensive. It had also been said here that action on the Goals was just beginning. The target date of 2015 was not so far away and, at that time, everyone here would be held accountable for their successes and failures by those most in need of our help. He also drew attention to the productive midday workshops, particularly the one on empowering women, which had developed strategies to ensure, among other things, that womens bodies ceased to be the first place where wars got played out. The Goals would not be achieved unless the needs of women were met and their rights were respected. Another important theme had been that, without security there could be no enduring development, and without development there could be no security.
Delivering the keynote address, Mr. ATTALI asked participants to imagine being in a room of united associations, rather than united nations, and imagine the decisions that such an assembly would take and its effects on the world. Such a dream was realistic. Even in the most dictatorial countries, men, women and children were improving their lives by gathering together outside the political arena. Humanitarian action, human rights, emergency medicine, birth control, rights of women, environmental protection and protection of children were not borne in political parties or in the business sector, but through the work of intellectuals. NGOs represented the forefront of what the future would be; a world made up of diversity, tolerance and respect for others.
He elaborated 12 statements of fact, among which were the following: First, despite progress in achieving the Goals, many of them were not being attained, and not only in Africa. Second, in the years to come, poverty would affect not just a quarter of the world, but half of the world. Third, more than ever, the world had the technical, financial and political means to solve problems. But, it also had the military means to commit suicide. Also, NGOs were putting forward simple and universal values. They constituted a significant part of the worlds activity and constituted a powerful force to change the world. NGOs gave sense to globalization. They gave meaning to democracy, which today was no more than merely a masquerade of elections. They also gave meaning to the fight for sustainable development.
Among the 12 projects he suggested that could be worked on together were the following: First, he noted that the United Nations had become powerful at a time when the nations that formed it were becoming powerless. Perhaps, the time had come to set up a new international architecture based on real democracy. NGOs were creating a new dynamic, which he hoped would be one day more powerful than the market. He hated the word NGO. That name should be rejected and another name found, such as solidarity institutions. Those institutions must become more professional and more transparent in their finances, leading to greater legitimacy. He dreamed of a world organization of solidarity institutions, which would provide an opportunity to define what needed to be done and how to cooperate with others, as well as set out objectives for the years to come.
A world without dictatorship was also possible, he said. No dictatorship should have the right to sit in any room of an international organization. He called for the progressive triumph of values, such as intelligence, fraternity and tolerance, and massively reinforcing the resources available to solidarity institutions. Any country that did not allow solidarity institutions to develop should be excluded from the international community.
JOAN KIRBY, Co-Chair of the Conference, told participants that more than 50 people on the planning committee had put the Conference together, which had provided a richness and diversity of speakers. She thanked everyone involved, from the planners to the participants, which had encompassed all five regions of the world. The NGOs had put forth many innovative ideas about the way ahead. Despite the different perspectives, everyone could agree on the importance women would play in carrying out the Goals. Time and again, participants had heard about the responsibility shared by women. The many women speakers had stressed the need to change power relationships and put women in leadership positions for attainment of the Goals. Also, youth should be added.
She recalled the point that the market economy could not eradicate poverty, because the poorest were too poor to participate in the market. As Mr. Sachs had said, we need to give and not to sell. She had always referred to the Goals as humanitarian, but she now understood that economic policy was at the very heart of their achievement. She also heard reinforced that development and security were interdependent. It was the job of every participant to take those lessons home. She asked everyone in the room to take their passion and energy home and make a decision for one serious, profound act, so that we can dedicate our time to continuing to relieve the misery of the world.
* *** *