26 June 2007
Trust Remains In Short Supply and Yet So Critical to Good Governance, UN tells delegates at the 7 th Global Forum
More than 2,000 participants at opening of Forum today in Vienna
VIENNA, 26 June (UN Information Service) -- Trust remains in short supply and yet it is a critical component of governance in all countries. Clearly, trust in government, and in governance, needs to be restored, said the United Nations Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
Speaking at the opening of the 7th Global Forum today in Vienna, Ms. Migiro told more than 2,000 delegates from 150 countries that there was evidence from both the developing and developed world that the governed have very limited trust in their governments.
"Consider the following startling finding: the UNDP recently surveyed 60 countries, both developed and developing, and asked nearly a half million people a simple question: "Do you feel you are a part of your government?" Almost 90 per cent said 'No.'" said Ms. Migiro.
She said the 7th Global Forum was well placed to lead the way by examining this vital issue from a variety of angles. And she urged delegates to examine how governments can better manage and meet the expectations of their citizens.
Delegates at this conference include heads of state, government ministers, parliamentarians, mayors, experts, CEOs and representatives of civil society organizations. The four-day conference hosted by the United Nations will examine best practices and alternative strategies for "Building Trust in Government," the theme of the conference. It will offer plenary sessions and a series of parallel capacity development workshops on different aspects of revitalizing governance and public administration.
Delegates at the Forum were welcomed by the Director-General, United Nations (Vienna), Antonio Maria Costa. He told the delegates that one of the biggest killers of trust is corruption. "Public servants should be in office to serve the public: this is not always the case, as all too often the public is robbed of the money that it needs to build schools, roads, sanitation and healthcare. The fight against corruption...is another way of reinventing governance," said Mr. Costa.
The Deputy-Secretary-General said governance, at its essence, is the fair exercise of power through participatory, transparent and accountable processes. It rests on the rule of law and respect for human rights. It requires effective, efficient, and predictable public institutions and administrative machinery staffed by professional, competent, and honest public employees. It also requires administrative structures and processes that allow citizens to have a say in the public policy decisions that most affect them. And it provides means by which the governed can monitor and evaluate public goods and services.
"The real challenge is to translate these ideals into practical realities. This is why we are all here at the 7th Global Forum: to learn from one another about how governance and public administration can be improved," said Ms. Migiro.
The Deputy-Secretary-General urged delegates to address a series of questions including: How can elections and parliamentary business be conducted to increase trust? What forms of public-private partnerships foster trust? And how can trust be built after conflicts and during reconstruction?
"Your answers to these questions will be heard, studied and adhered to by governments, civil society organizations and the private sector. They will also be taken to heart by the United Nations itself," she said.
"As many of you know, building trust has been high on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's agenda from his first day in office. Indeed, on taking the oath of office, the Secretary-General singled out 'the good name of the United Nations' as one of its most valuable - and most vulnerable - assets, promising to lead by example, he dubbed his mission "Operation Restore Trust," Ms. Migiro told the delegates.
She said the United Nations trusts that the outcome of the Global Forum could help guide the ongoing attempts to make the United Nations the best it can be. And it was certain that "Operation Restore Trust" can certainly benefit from the delegates combined experience and expertise.
The Austrian President, Heinz Fischer told delegates that although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain very ambitious, they were still achievable, only if, "we manage to jointly increase our efforts."
He pledged to increase Austria's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to keep it in step with the MDG target. "In order to react and improve the lives of the poorest …Austria is committed to raising its ODA levels to 0.51 per cent of the Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010 and to 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2015," said the Austrian President.
President of Botswana, Festus Gontebanye Mogae said it was indisputable that governments that have been elected to power through a transparent electoral system that allows political opponents their right to contest for power earn trust. And conversely, no government that has shot or cheated its way into power can expect to be trusted by its citizens.
Since 1999, the Global Forum on Reinventing Government has addressed the need for improvements in governance and public administration. Previous conferences have been held in Washington D.C., United States; Brasilia, Brazil; Naples, Italy; Marrakech, Morocco; Mexico City, Mexico; and Seoul, Republic of Korea. Each has examined a different theme related to government reinvention.
This year, for the first time, the forum is hosted by the United Nations. The event is organized as part of a UN-wide partnership led by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The conference is organized in cooperation with the Government of Austria. The plenary sessions, workshops and meetings are designed to contribute directly to the achievement of the MDGs by strengthening state capacity and improving the quality of governance.
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