Press Releases

    16 December 2002


    MARRAKECH, 13 December (UN Information Service) -- Concern with the impact of globalized values on local social cohesion has led to a last-minute high-level debate at the Fourth Global Conference on Reinventing Government, taking place in Marrakech, Morocco.

    Prime Ministers, Vice-Presidents and national ministers from developing countries attended a plenary meeting on reconciling universal and local values, which was elevated from workshop status because of the strong interest it generated. The plenary took place just prior to today’s close of the Forum, which is sponsored by the Moroccan Government, in cooperation with the United Nations.

    The Declaration issued by the Global Forum immediately afterward notes the positive impact of universal ideals in uniting humankind, and in providing a medium for cultural interaction. But it also expresses concern that "globalization should not eradicate particular cultures."

    "Therefore, new ways to reconcile local identity values with other, universally shared values need to be found," the Marrakech Declaration states.

    In the plenary debate, the Moroccan minister responsible for Islamic affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, called on Muslims everywhere to relate their values to universally approved principles of governance, saying that there is a full basis for democracy within the Islamic system. André Azoulay, adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, defended the utility of universal values, which he attributed to contributions from all of the world’s diverse cultures.

    Erosion of locally shared values and of social stability was, nevertheless, identified as a major challenge facing governments of the developing world at Forum workshops and round tables held from 10-13 December.

    The discussions led to endorsement of 12 recommended principles for modernizing governments. The Marrakech Declaration endorses increased governmental reliance on the capabilities of civil society organizations and business; decentralization and the empowerment of local communities; vigorous adoption of information technologies; heightened responsiveness and accountability; and global solidarity.

    The Marrakech meeting also accepted the offer of the Mexican Government, made via a taped video presentation by President Vicente Fox, to host next year’s Global Forum on Reinventing Government.

    The First Global Forum, hosted by the United States, took place in Washington, D.C., in 1999. Succeeding Forum venues were in Brasilia and Naples, sponsored respectively by the Governments of Brazil and of Italy.

    National individuality

    Organizers of the 2002 Forum in Marrakech were surprised by its level of attendance, which swelled from an expected 1,200 to an actual presence of 2,000. They were also impressed by the large number of participants of ministerial rank or higher, numbering 50 in all, and by the serious participation of high-level government officials in workshops, round tables and plenary debate.

    "The discussion in Marrakech was notable for the willingness of officials to engage in frank self-appraisal, and also for their insistence on full recognition of local initiative and local intrinsic situations in the tailoring of technical assistance and of international standard-setting in the governance arena," said Guido Bertucci, director of the United Nations public administration division.

    For more information on the Global Forum, contact Tim Wall of the United Nations Department of Public Information, telephone: 1-917-815-0135, e-mail:

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