9 September 2005
DPI/NGO Conference Focuses on Implementation of Millennium Goal Targets, Need for Collective Security Framework Respecting Human Rights
NEW YORK, 8 September (UN Headquarters) -- Implementing the targets set by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit and providing vulnerable populations with a collective security framework that respected human rights were among main topics of discussion at the fifty-eighth Annual DPI/NGO Conference today.
The three-day session, entitled "Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal", brings together more than 2,000 non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives and other civil society partners from around the world to voice their views on implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, peace and security, human rights and strengthening the United Nations.
This morning, panellists focused on human development as the foundation for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, stressing the crucial role that NGOs could play in helping governments and leaders remember their commitments to implementing the Goals by 2015. They said that with much of the past five years lost to the so-called war on terror, 2005 would be a crucial year in refocusing world attention on the need to urgent need to implement the commitments agreed to five years ago.
As the biggest policy advocates for development, NGOs needed to join with the international community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, said Anwarul Chowdhury, the Secretary-General's High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Moderating the panel, he noted that improving the lives of people was the heart and soul of all efforts for human development. Human development also involved giving people both "voices and choices". The end measurement of all social arrangements should be seen through the lens of human good, he said, adding that as the wealth of nations, people should be the ultimate aim of any development endeavour.
Sharing his country's success in achieving the Goals, Liu Mingzu, Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress of China, said that China's commitment to realizing the Millennium Development Goals was on track. In the past five years, the process of implementing the Goals had been quite smooth. In fact, China would likely achieve most of the Goals ahead of time. While States had the primary responsibility for implementing the Goals, civil society members needed to play a more active role by contributing their advice and suggestions. Developing countries, for their part, had to commit to reforms, while developed countries had to create a favourable external environment, including by committing to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to development assistance. With the South-North disparity continuing to erode the very foundation of development, global realization of the Goals by 2015 would remain an uphill journey.
Describing policy coordination as the "missing link" to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, Mamphela Ramphele, Co-Chair, Global Commission on International Migration, called on civil society representatives to "hold governments' feet to the fire" to ensure that they maintained policy coherence. The failure to recognize the interlinkages between migration and the Goals was an example of the lack of policy coherence. Despite its growing scope and magnitude, migration did not figure prominently in the Millennium Goal framework. Coherence began at home, she stated, adding that all countries should set national development plans based on how their processes would be impacted by the dynamic interplay of demography, development and democracy in a world of greater human mobility.
Also participating in the panel were Diana Medman, Founder and Chairperson of the Russian Women's Microfinance Network and Co-founder and Director, AO Bioprocess, Russian Federation; and Salil Shetty, Director, United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In the afternoon panel on "Collective Security: The Priorities of Civil Society", panellists focused on the need to ensure respect for human rights as the driving force behind peace, security and development.
Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive of the International Crisis Group, expressed hoped that next week's World Summit would mean a leap forward in the pursuit of a collective security system. While the Summit was the best chance in decades to make fundamental changes for a number of reasons, it was sadly apparent that the international community was in danger of losing that opportunity. "Politics as usual" had prevailed and an absence of leadership existed in devising a process leading to some reasonable conclusion. So long as the existing process continued, there was almost no chance of achieving anything in time for next week, he said. Civil society needed to make its voice heard, and let it be known that it felt utterly let down, and that what was going on was not good enough for those living around the world in desperate insecurity.
Moderating the discussion, Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, noted that security threats today extended to issues above and beyond traditional forms of conflict. The challenge of the twenty-first century was to realize that socio-economic threats such as disease and poverty were a threat to peace and security. Humanity would not enjoy security without development and development without security. Without respect for human rights, it would enjoy neither. Massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms still took place, mostly in conflict situations, and the number of civilians involved was outrageous. It was crucial that States understood that they could not act alone. Action was needed at the global and regional levels, including by regional bodies and NGOs.
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said he saw security issues not as a military man, but in terms of drugs, crime and terrorism. Those crimes could not be addressed by any single policy initiative. In dealing with them, the role of civil society organizations and their engagement were crucial. No single nation or group of nations could match the legitimacy of the United Nations, he added. Multilateralism, based on a three-pillar system of Member States, the United Nations and civil society, was the only way to address the security issues presented by crime, drugs and terrorism.
Other panellists were Daniel Opande, former Lieutenant General of Kenya and former Force Commander, United Nations Mission in Liberia; and Hazuki Yasuhara, International Coordinator, Peaceboat.
The Conference will continue at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 September, beginning with a panel session entitled "A Dialogue: The Future of the United Nations".
Continuing its three-day session, the fifty-eighth annual DPI/NGO Conference met today to hear two panel discussions entitled, "A Focus on Human Development: Implementing the MDGs" and "Collective Security: The Priorities of Civil Society".
Organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in cooperation with associated non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the conference, entitled "Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal", brings together more than 2,000 NGO representatives and other civil society partners from around the world to voice their views on implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), peace and security, human rights and strengthening the United Nations.
Morning Panel Discussion on Implementing Millennium Development Goals
ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY, High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, panel moderator, opened this morning's discussion by noting that the annual Conference had become an important institution at the United Nations, bringing together all stakeholders to discuss crucial issues. He hoped the Conference would become even stronger and that more representatives from the South would be able to join the forum. Understanding how to improve the lives of people was the heart and soul of all efforts for human development. The end measurement of all social arrangements should be seen through the lens of human good.
At its core, human development tried to address the issue of human deprivation, he said. People-centred development, which focused on the needs of the people, was the core of human development and pertained to both developed and developing countries. Indeed, high income countries were not immune to the scourges of drugs or violence. Human development also involved giving people both "voices and choices". By doing so, human development efforts served to empower people. As the wealth of nations, people should be the ultimate aim of any development endeavour. Other aspects of human development included the provision of opportunities for women and the creation of a political space for the poor.
Another aspect of human development was universal access to basic social services, he said. That foundation of human development had been well articulated in the Millennium Development Goals. The Goals had been refined in the form of a compact, which encouraged all stakeholders to engage in development efforts in a much more focused way. Local leadership was crucial for the realization of the eight Goals. In that regard, the role of civil society was vital. NGO representatives -- the biggest policy advocates for development -- needed to join with the international community to achieve the Goals. Another role of NGOs was to monitor international commitments. In that regard, they should be given greater opportunities to participate in intergovernmental bodies as full partners. Taking care of the most vulnerable countries, including the 50 least developed countries, should also be at the heart of human development efforts, he said.
DIANA MEDMAN, Founder and Chairperson, Russian Women's Microfinance Network, and Co-founder and Director, AO Bioprocess, Russian Federation, said she wanted to focus on corporate social responsibility and microcredit as tools for poverty eradication and sustainable development, and share her experience as a witness and participant in Russia's transition to a market economy. Bioprocess aimed to commercialize Russian scientists' research potential and reached its first success in scaling up several chemical technologies. It had always been aware of the important social role business had in any country and, therefore, it had always been a policy of the company to be engaged in constructive social work for the benefit of society.
Since the beginning of perestroika, she and her company had supported the women's movement in Russia, she said. Women turned out to be the group which suffered most from the economic and social crisis. The problems of women's rights, women's unemployment and gender equality became very urgent during that period. In 1998, with the support of Women's World Banking, she founded the Russian Women's Microfinance Network. The Network's mission was to support the development of sustainable women-focused, locally managed microfinance institutions throughout Russia by creating an effective refinance and technical support structure that provided high-quality services.
Since its establishment, the Network's services had been in high demand with low-income and small entrepreneurs, she stated. At present, the Network had over 5,500 active clients, disbursing almost 10,000 loans a year. It had developed a unique small business crediting system and achieved a high level of standardization of its microfinance activity, becoming Russia's second largest microfinance institution. Environmentally friendly business practices were a goal for the Network, and it had started to develop and implement different procedures and policies to monitor the use of the loans by its clients and to encourage environmentally friendly business.
To better advocate for changes that would support the development of microfinance in Russia, the Network had carried out significant work to attract the attention of Russian officials, educators and the business community to those issues and to raise their awareness of the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool for poverty eradication and the building up of the middle class. The proclamation by the General Assembly of 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit provided a significant step forward in that effort.
LIU MINGZU, Chairman, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, said five years ago the world had ushered in a new century with the hope for global peace and prosperity. At the 2000 summit, world leaders had gathered at the United Nations to commit themselves to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Today, representatives from some 1,160 NGOs and civil society organizations were gathered to appraise progress in achieving the Goals. Implementing them was part of China's objective of creating a harmonious socialist society. By implementing the concept of sustainable development, the Government had provided strong policy guarantees for achieving the Millennium Goals in China. Sustained economic growth had laid a solid foundation for their realization. Chinese society had become a great power for achieving the Goals and Chinese NGOs had played an active role in that regard.
In the past five years, the process of implementing the Millennium Goals in China had been very smooth, he said. China's commitment to realizing the Goals was on track, and the situation was quite optimistic. It was likely that China would achieve most of the Goals ahead of time. It had already met the target of halving its poor population and had strengthened its compulsory education system, with the emphasis on children in poor rural areas. The Government also promoted gender equality and women's cultural and political rights. Some 36 per cent of government officials and over 20 per cent of deputies to the National People's Congress were women. China had stepped up its efforts to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. The Government had promulgated several laws on environmental protection and had increased investments in environmental protection. By 2010, environmental spending would amount to 1.7 per cent of China's gross domestic product (GDP). About 80 per cent of the population had access to safe drinking water. China was now a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and its economy had been fully integrated into the world economic system. While it received assistance from the international community, China also provided assistance to other developing countries. The Chinese people were now sharing the fruits of development, including a better life, broad democracy and human rights.
South-North disparity continued to erode the very foundation of development, he continued. Realizing the Goals by 2015 remained an uphill journey. Civil society needed to be more active in the process by contributing advice and suggestions for peace and a better future for all. As the basic unit for implementing the Goals, States had the primary responsibility for attaining them. Governments had to take effective measures to further promote the implementation of the Millennium Goals, including by integrating them with their development strategies. For their part, developing countries should strengthen themselves by promoting reform and taking effective economic and social policies to enhance their development capability. For their part, developed countries should take concrete actions to create a favourable external environment, provide subsistence assistance to developing nations and realize their commitment of 0.7 per cent GDP for official development assistance (ODA) at an early date.
International cooperation was an indispensable condition for realizing the Goals, he stressed. Countries should further strengthen their trade and investment cooperation, open their markets, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and enhance regional economic integration. The international community should provide more assistance to developing countries in such fields as institutional building, human resources training and competitiveness-building. In the face of the great challenges posed by the Millennium Goals, the United Nations should not only take lead in advocating development, but also fulfil its responsibility in implementing international consensus. The United Nations should guide the new round of multilateral trade negotiations to focus on the issue of development and enhance sustainable international cooperation. The United Nations should also establish an impartial and rational progress evaluation framework for the Millennium Goals. The world was undergoing profound change and the United Nations was at a crucial moment. The ability to achieve the Goals was an important benchmark for measuring the international community's capability to address the challenges of globalization.
Responding to some questions, Mr. Liu said that the Chinese Government was paying great attention to its public health sector. While the sector was quite well equipped in the urban areas, it was lacking in some rural areas. In the rural areas, the Government was building public health units, financed partly by the Government and partly by local communities. He also mentioned that there were women's organizations at all levels of government. All rights and policies that involved women had to be based on consultations with women's organizations at various levels.
He added that his Government attached great importance with its relationships with Asian countries, and they all tried to promote one another. China could not develop without the rest of Asia.
MAMPHELA RAMPHELE, Co-Chair, Global Commission on International Migration, wanted to focus on policy coherence as the missing link in efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals. Civil society could "hold governments' feet to the fire" to ensure that they maintained policy coherence. The Global Commission argued that policy coherence was the missing link in the quest for sustainable development, in general, and achieving the Goals, in particular. The Goals represented but a minimum goal over the long term. "Our sights should be set higher."
Turning to some of the policy interlinkages, she noted that despite its growing scope and magnitude, migration did not figure prominently in the Millennium Goal framework. Migration was inextricably linked with all the Goals. For example, it could have a direct impact on poverty reduction through remittances. In 2004, it was estimated that $200 billion was transferred by migrants in one part of the world to another. Migration could also impact gender equality, as it could empower women. The failure to recognize the interlinkages between migration and the Goals was an example of the lack of policy coherence.
Coherence began at home, she stated. All countries should set national development plans based on how their processes would be impacted by the dynamic interplay of demography, development and democracy in a world of greater human mobility. There were too many cases of failed policy coherence. Capacity-building was essential to help governments embed migration in their national development plans. Africa, she noted, faced capacity challenges, despite the fact that every year $4 billion in technical assistance had been given to the continent. She asked that greater attention be paid to migration in human development within the development agenda, which could lead to greater performance by all countries in today's knowledge-driven world.
SALIL SHETTY, Director, United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the Goals were part of a broader development agenda, representing the aspirations of billions of people around the world, comprising essential human rights. Some leaders had serious memory loss problems, and the Campaign's goal was to help them remember their commitments. Civil society had a key role in that regard. In the United States, the average American citizen thought that its Government gave some 15 to 20 per cent of the national budget to development assistance. They also believed that amount should be much higher. Awareness was crucial to holding governments responsible.
He said the Campaign had three core components, including public involvement, using the media to create awareness and policy change. In the United States, the most visible Millennium Development Goal campaign was called the "US One campaign", which sought to give 1 per cent of United States GDP to ODA. A campaign in Japan was also growing in strength. The United Kingdom had a very powerful programme, called "Make Poverty History". It was not just an issue of aid but of trade negotiations. Developing countries must hold their governments accountable. They also had memory loss problems. Christian churches were very active in the Campaign, as were other faith-based groups.
The year 2005 was a crucial year, he said. With the last three years lost to the "war on terror", the Campaign was working to return the focus of international attention to the Millennium Development Goals, including by organizing "white band" days and marches around the world. Looking to the World Summit next week, the Campaign would focus on the need to achieve 0.7 per cent of GDP for ODA. It would also stress the need to ensure the quality, not just the quantity of aid, and call for 100 per cent debt cancellation. Improving governance was another issue. How could leaders be accountable to their people if they were first accountable to donors? he asked.
Responding to questions, Ms. RAMPHELE said that forced migration was one example of incoherence in policy-making and policy implementation. Most governments, if not all, had committed themselves to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which outlawed forced migration. Also, there were special conventions on the issue, which many governments had signed. However, the gap between what governments had signed up for and what they did through national policies was part of the reason why forced migration was such a problem.
Interconnectedness, she continued, had made it imperative that migration be allowed through inter-State collaboration. "We are not doing a very good job right now." If only governments could implement what they committed to, then the problem could be addressed. At the same time, some governments did not have the capacity to implement their commitments. The Global Commission would propose a facility to help all countries implement the commitments of international conventions.
The "brain drain" was a two-way process, she said in response to a question. All countries, rich or poor, must look at their social sector policies, so that those policies encouraged people to stay in their countries. It was necessary to look at how to make living in one's country more attractive. All countries should be working towards the kind of world where people had opportunities in their own countries and migrated out of choice and not due to better economic opportunities elsewhere. Also, it was important for all countries to create an inclusive environment so that people who migrated felt welcome. At the same time, those that migrated must respect the laws of the receiving country. The economic impact of migration was obvious. The United States, for example, was what it was today due to migration.
It was not a question of a shortage of policies, she added. What was missing was implementation, monitoring and evaluation of how governments were doing on implementing the commitments made. That was where civil society should come together to demand that governments live up to the responsibilities that they signed up for.
On the issue of reducing military expenditures to free up resources for development, Mr. SHETTY said that, in addition to national MDG reports prepared by governments, there were also several shadow reports on country performance, which were tracking how budgetary expenditures were taking place. When people came to know what was going on, then what needed to be done would get done. The problem now was a lack of information on what the money was being spent on.
Smoking was a serious health hazard for families and communities, Ms. RAMPHELE said in response to a question. In fact, she was surprised that the United Nations allowed smoking in the Building. Civil society had to take responsibility for ensuring that public spaces were smoke-free. Smokers needed support to help them quit.
Responding to several questions, Mr. SHETTY said the Campaign was actively involved with youth. It had a strong partnership with Nickelodeon, which had come up with a simple ways of communicating the Millennium Goals to children. Results were being seen, although economic growth did not necessarily convert into achieving the Goals. While Bangladesh had lower economic growth than India, it had made greater progress in achieving the Goals.
Afternoon Panel Discussion on Collective Security
Opening the session, panel moderator FATOU BENSOUDA, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, noted that the United Nations had been created in 1945 to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. In the same vein, the United Nations system for peace and security had been created on the assumption that the main threats to international peace came from wars between States. As a result, when the founders had talked of a new system of collective security, they had meant it in the traditional military sense. Today, the biggest security threats did not come from States waging aggressive war. In fact, those wars had become rather exceptional. The nature of conflict had changed from State conflicts to intra-State disputes, including civil war, acts of terrorism, genocide, drug trafficking and trafficking in humans. Security threats today extended to other issues above and beyond traditional forms of conflict, including socio-economic threats such as infectious diseases.
The challenge of the twenty-first century was the realization that such threats were a threat to peace and security, she said. Without mutual recognition of the threats of poverty and disease, there could be no collective security. Nothing less than a new consensus was needed. The world needed responses that encompassed development and respect for human rights. Humanity would not enjoy security without development and development without security. Without respect for human rights, it would enjoy neither. Today, massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms still took place, mostly in conflict situations. The number of civilians involved was outrageous. Since the beginning of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, an estimated 2.5 million people had died. In the last two years, some 12,000 children had been abducted in northern Uganda. The international community had no choice but to address those violations.
Massive and gross human rights violations should be addressed through their prevention, she said. Governments needed to mainstream prevention as one of the fundamental goals of their security policies. It was crucial that States understood that they could not act alone. Action was needed at the global and regional levels, including by regional bodies and NGOs. States needed to recognize the importance of such actors. The role of civil society could not be underestimated, as it had a vital role in the prevention of gross human rights violations. With the ability to provide information from the field and the means to communicate with local populations, civil society organizations were usually highly specialized and could offer expertise not available elsewhere. When prevention failed, one of the most important ways to rebuild society was through justice. Peace and the ending of massive and gross violations could only be achieved by holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Justice could be brought in many forms, she said. When States were capable of providing justice to their nationals, they were primarily responsible for holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. Civil society organizations had been active in a broad range of activities, from relief to advocacy. However, when massive violations such as genocide took place, governments were neither able nor willing to provide justice. Until recently, victims had no one to turn to in their quest for justice. With that in mind, the International Criminal Court had been created in 1998. At that time, the international community had created a permanent mechanism to bring justice to victims of the most unimaginable atrocities when States were unwilling to do so. The Court currently had authority over 99 States that had ratified the Rome Statute.
Armed with substantial legal tools to intervene where conflict prevention failed, the Court would punish those most responsible for genocide, she said. The Court could not act alone, however, but needed to be backed by the strong political will of all Member States. The Court operated in an environment highly different from national prosecution systems. In the performance of its work, the Court needed to rely on the support of civil society at large. Building networks with communities around the world was the only way for the Court to successfully operate. Civil society had proven to be indispensable in the field of peace. The international community must support its role.
GARETH EVANS, President and Chief Executive, International Crisis Group, said he hoped next week's World Summit would mean a leap forward in the pursuit for a collective security system. It was the best chance in decades to make fundamental changes, for three reasons. First, there was widespread recognition around the world of the need for change. Second, there was a detailed agenda for change, much more detailed than those for other meetings. Third, there was an opportunity for change with the sixtieth anniversary and the heightened expectations surrounding such an event. It was sadly apparent, however, that the international community was in danger of losing that opportunity.
Turning first to the issue of the responsibility to protect, he said that if governments abdicated that responsibility, it then shifted to the wider international community. That principle, which had become widely accepted as an internationally accepted norm, was now being contested by a small group of countries. With regard to governing the use of force, there was a proposed set of guidelines for the Security Council to enable it to identify legitimacy, and to create the possibility of greater consensus on when force should and should not be used. That concept was basically dead, killed by resistance by the United States and some non-aligned countries. There were those that also opposed reaching agreement on a definition of terrorism.
Also, he continued, there was no agreement of any kind on any of the non-proliferation and disarmament issues. No one could agree on action on the supply side or on the demand side. Following the debacle of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference earlier this year, failure to begin to find consensus on those issues was potentially quite disastrous. There was general agreement on the need to strengthen capacity and effectiveness in the areas of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. While the idea of the Peacebuilding Commission, designed to fill a gap by bringing together all key stakeholders of a conflict situation, was accepted, there was no agreement on its structure, authority or mode of operation. Likewise, a group of countries had blocked every attempt to reach consensus on the structure and mode of operation of the proposed Human Rights Council. In addition, the prospects for Security Council reform had completely collapsed in the last few days, mainly due to intra-African politics.
As to why the situation was the way it was, he said that "politics as usual" had prevailed. It was also due to an absence of leadership in devising a process leading to some reasonable conclusion. There were two forces at play while the large majority of States stood passively by, allowing any substance to be grounded down. The first was the United States and the other was a hard-core group of developing countries that included Pakistan, Egypt and India. So long as the existing process continued, there was almost no chance of achieving anything in time for next week. He hoped the Secretary-General would take strong leadership action in the short time left before the Summit to salvage something from the wreckage. Civil society needed to make its voice heard, and let it be known that it felt utterly let down, and that what was going on was not good enough for those living around the world in desperate insecurity.
DANIEL OPANDE, former Lieutenant General of Kenya and former Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said his contribution today would be dedicated to the late John Garang. The duality of Sudan's internal turmoil, that included hostilities in Darfur and maintaining the north-south peace process, required intense international focus and commitment, not just for the individual regions but for the country as a whole. Such an undertaking must be revisited to ensure Sudanese humanitarian and security interests were dealt with in an equal manner utilizing the resources of the international community.
The Sudan, he said, suffered from a fragmented and inconsistent approach on the part of its international partners. The twin arenas of humanitarian aid and internal security vied for much of the resources provided by the international community. However, inconsistent application of those resources combined with two separate diplomatic fronts seemingly complicated Sudan's search for a viable peace throughout the country.
It could be argued that there was a much larger and longer-term issue at stake other than feeding and caring for those who had become victims of Sudan's conflicts, he said. The issue in its most basic form was the resolution of security concerns stemming from political agendas of multiple parties from all the indigenous areas of the Sudan. In short, the question has to be asked that with all the aid and support provided by the international community, how could Sudan's conflicts be addressed in a meaningful and comprehensive manner under the umbrella of the newly formed Government of National Unity and with the support of the international community?
The answer might be found, he said, in a collective approach to humanitarian and security concerns utilizing the equitable distribution of international resources throughout the Sudan. Currently, the myriad initiatives undertaken by international organizations, such as the United Nations, European Union, African Union, Arab League, and the bilateral efforts of individual nations, served to dilute the prospects for Sudanese stability.
The Sudan must be looked at as one country, he said. Dividing the country into regions and managing the conflicts of those regions independently served no useful purpose to the country as a whole. Ongoing conflict in Darfur would most certainly threaten the prospects of a sustained peace in the south. Only through a concerted collective effort, focusing on the Sudan as a whole, would the international community provide the impetus for establishing stability for the entire Sudan. Such a step would not only benefit the Sudanese, but the entire region of East Africa, as a stable Sudan would offset negative influences associated with other conflicts in the region.
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said he first recognized the important role of DPI in bringing the United Nations message to the world. In terms of security, governments were often limited in what they could do, including because of budgetary constraints. Given those constraints, civil society organizations could step in and do more. As the Executive Director of the UNODC, he saw security issues not as a military man, but in terms of drugs, crime and terrorism. Those crimes could not be addressed by any single policy initiative. In dealing with them, there was almost a natural division of labour between State and civil society efforts. The role of civil society organizations could not be substituted. Given the complex nature of security issues, civil society engagement was needed to deal with them. No single nation or group of nations could match the legitimacy of the United Nations. Multilateralism, based on a three-pillar system of Member States, the United Nations and civil society, was the only way to address the security issues presented by crime, drugs and terrorism.
NGO action was a crucial counterpart to the work of the UNODC, he said. The UNODC was involved in some 3,000 projects. Half of its partners were NGOs and the other half Member States. Without the support of NGOs, the Office could not discharge its mandate. At the Eleventh Crime Congress held in April in Bangkok, he had worked with a number of NGOs in prisons, drawing attention to the fact that while they were criminals, they too suffered. Corruption was another aspect of the Office's work in which NGOs were also actively engaged. Urban violence, including violence against people and property, was a huge problem around the world. Carrying the United Nations message beyond where it could reach, civil society efforts sustained those of the UNODC.
In the case of trafficking in human beings, a new form of slavery, governments had been slow to act, with only a very few countries ratifying the relevant protocol. Law enforcement in the area of human trafficking was also weak as was legislation and prevention measures. The UNODC took the issue of trafficking very seriously. In discharging its mandate in that regard, the Office relied on the work of civil society. Concluding, he noted that crime, drugs and terrorism were interlocked, killing more civilians than any weapon of mass destruction.
HAZUKI YASUHARA, International Coordinator, Peaceboat, noted that as a youth activist, she believed that the United Nations was one of the most important venues for making positive changes in the world. A few months ago, she had participated in the NPT Conference. At that meeting, youth had been enthusiastic in their call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The focus of their position was not based on politics or power struggles, but on their concern for life. The strong youth presence at the meeting and their articulate message from a humanitarian perspective had greatly encouraged her. The process of the Conference had been frustrating, however. As the Conference proceeded, she had started to see two clearly different motivations in dealing with the issue. One was taking the issue only as political, while the other dealt with the issue in more moral and humanitarian terms. Not enough attention was being paid to the impact on actual lives of the decisions made.
A few months later, she was involved in a two-week educational voyage, organized by Peaceboat and the Korean environmental NGO Green Foundation, to visit areas of South Korea, China and Japan. Through the voyage, she witnessed that actual interactions between people could promote understanding and lessen tensions and distrust that had built up within people. The future of humankind depended on how people could deal with problems from a humanitarian point of view. National interests and power struggles often failed to recognize and take care of actual human needs. For example, how could the world allow people to die of disease when effective medical care existed? Such injustices needed to be corrected and the concept of human-centred security must be tackled.
The concept of collective security was necessary now more than ever, she said. What she would like to see at next week's Summit was an emphasis on human security and a shift towards a humanitarian approach in addressing all issues, recognizing the interconnectedness of development, human rights and security. Only when that shift was achieved would freedom from want, freedom from fear and a life in dignity be achieved. Weapons or a militaristic approach to security did not protect anyone or promote human rights. In the end, they only undermined the well-being of humanity.
Asked what NGOs could do in response to negotiations on a draft outcome document for next week's Summit, Mr. EVANS said anything that addressed what was going wrong could only be helpful. Those NGOs from countries creating most of the difficulties should let their representatives know that what they were doing was against the spirit of the Summit and would not go unnoticed. Representing the voices of so many people, it was important for NGOs to find an organized way to articulate what was going "horribly wrong" in other rooms at the moment.
Asked why the international community had delayed in providing the African Union with the necessary resources to stabilize the situation in Darfur, Mr. OPANDE said he had been horrified by what he had seen just a few weeks ago in Darfur. Although the international community had committed to helping stem the scourge of conflict there, very little was being done to ensure that the ordinary people of Darfur could turn their lives around. The problem was one of funding. The African Union did not have enough funding. A lack of political will was basically the problem.
Responding to questions on human trafficking, Mr. COSTA said there should be an international law on trafficking in humans. Negotiations on the protocol against trafficking, which his Office had brokered, had lasted two years. The good news was that the protocol had entered into force. The bad news was that only a limited number of countries had ratified it. Ratification procedures were often very slow. Turning international instruments into domestic legislation was a challenge.
Asked to describe obstacles to a definition of terrorism, Mr. EVANS noted that while there were 11 counter-terrorism conventions, none of them contained a specific definition of terrorism. There were no single standard on what was wrong about terrorism, making it difficult to create a will of public sentiment against it in some countries. The search for a definition was ongoing. The Secretary-General's High-Level Panel had defined terrorism as politically motivated violence against civilians. Objections from the so-called left included the legitimate resistance to occupation and the need to include the concept of State terrorism. On the so-called right, people were saying that terrorism should extend to attacks against uniformed or military personnel.
Whether a stronger United Nations might have produced a stronger outcome next week, he noted that the United Nations was nothing more than the combination of its membership. The Secretariat could be better managed, and more aggressive leadership was needed. At the end of the day, when it came to the Summit, the United Nations system was a prisoner of its Member States. The United Nations could not be blamed for a takeover of its agenda by a few Member States.
Drug abuse prevention was a historical area of the UNODC's work, Mr. COSTA said. Civil society had been a major counterpart in that regard. The UNODC created awareness campaigns on drug addiction. It also worked to create an environment in which drug addicts could be assisted. With two dozen offices around the world, including in the major theatres of drug addiction, NGOs could be actively engaged in its work. On the issue of trafficking, he noted that the protocol did not address a statute of limitations. Job offers to work abroad were often "snack-bites", and the UNODC worked to create awareness of trafficking, including through public service announcements.
In response to a question on how to address the fact that Israel had nuclear weapons and was not party to disarmament treaties, Ms. YASUHARA said that it was necessary to tackle the international community's double standard regarding nuclear weapons. Negotiations, such as the Six-Party Talks on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as the creation of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, could help.
Regarding a solution or alternative to the current mess vis-à-vis the World Summit, Mr. EVANS said what was needed now was to abandon the present process. A small group of the key players must get together, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, to try to get as close as possible to the trade-offs needed for a consensus that broadly reflected the majority thinking in the system, and then perhaps put it to a vote. Alternatively, they could not have a vote and just declare a consensus, which was his preference. But something must take place to avoid a debacle. The beginnings of a panic were already setting in.
Asked if he felt the United States aimed to dismantle the United Nations, he said the United States did not want to dismantle the Organization, but wanted it to do what it wanted it to do. There were many other that felt that way, but did not have the power or resources to carry that forward. In an interdependent world, no one country could do everything on its own. In the recent past, there was more of a willingness to take the United Nations more seriously on the part of the current administration. For example, the United States had stepped away from vetoing the Security Council resolution on Darfur which mentioned the International Criminal Court. The choice that the United States confronted, as was once mentioned by former President Bill Clinton, was to use its power and authority to remain "top dog" in the world for as long as conceivably possible or to use that power and authority to create a world which it was comfortable living in when it was no longer "top dog".
Mr. OPANDE's message to youth was that they had a role to play in conflict resolution. In most conflicts he had witnessed, youth played major roles in destroying themselves and their countries, and terrorizing their peoples because adults made them do so. The future they destroyed when they carried weapons around was their own, not those of the adults that sent them to the frontlines.
On another question, he said that the women of the Sudan had been very encouraging and had played a major role to buttress peace not only for the South but for the entire country. The women of Darfur had awoken and were vocal in ensuring that peace eventually returned to Darfur. They needed the international community to say with them "enough is enough".
Asked if anti-drug legislation contributed to the profitability of drug trafficking, Mr. COSTA pointed out that tobacco was consumed by 40 per cent of humanity, alcohol by 25 per cent, and drugs by 1 per cent. The two licit substances were used by many more than illicit substances. Tobacco killed 5 million people a year and alcohol killed 2.5 million, while drugs killed 250,000. Logic pointed to the fact that if drugs were free, then there would be the same type of addiction and deaths as with those for alcohol and tobacco.
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