9 March 2006

"Beyond the Millennium Declaration:  Embracing Democracy and Good Governance" Theme of Athens Conference, 9 - 11 March

NEW YORK, 8 March (UNFIP) -- Political leaders, experts and representatives from the business community and civil society will come together in Athens from 9 to 11 March to develop new ideas, suggestions and concrete proposals as part of a new project to foster democracy and good governance.

Organized by the New School of Athens, the conference "Beyond the Millennium Declaration:  Embracing Democracy and Good Governance" will allow for a global dialogue on key issues and challenges before the international community, ranging from development, peace and security, and the protection of human rights to the fight against terrorism and corruption, respect for the rule of law, international trade, human security and corporate social responsibility.  The closing session of the conference will showcase the "Declaration of Athens" -- visions and strategies for building democracy and good governance beyond the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, which stated that the central challenge nations face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people.

The Athens conference stems from a partnership between the City of Athens and the Global Governance Group.  The initiative began when Dora Bakoyannis, Greece's Minister for Foreign Affairs, was Mayor of Athens.

Dr. Kimon Valaskakis, President of the Global Governance Group and former Canadian Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), stresses "the urgency of modernizing the multilateral system of global institutions, designed for the world of 1945, which must now become more responsive to the challenges of 2006 and beyond or risk irrelevancy".  He adds:  "This requires a tripartite partnership between the three principal groups of players in today's globalized world -- Governments, corporations and civil society -- who will together legitimize the proposed reforms.  The New School of Athens will endeavour to act as one of these necessary pre-negotiating fora by promoting this tripartite partnership."

The United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) welcomes this initiative aimed not only at fostering dialogue and encouraging partnerships between a wide variety of stakeholders, but also at helping identify avenues to democracy building and overcoming global threats.  According to Amir Dossal, Executive Director of UNFIP, "The motto of the New School of Athens -- exploring better ways of managing our world -- speaks for itself.  The School will no doubt contribute to finding innovative solutions to the global concerns that confront all of us.  Its tripartite composition of Government leaders, business executives and civil society representatives is especially useful and timely."

The UNFIP promotes new United Nations partnerships and alliances worldwide.  It serves as the interface between the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations system, supports the work of the United Nations Democracy Fund in promoting democracy building across the globe, and works as a gateway to engage corporations, foundations and other civil society actors in concrete projects on the ground covering issues as diverse as education, biodiversity, information technology and health.

The Global Governance Group is an international initiative bringing together academics, political leaders and citizens worldwide to propose improvements in the global governance system in the light of the complex challenges of the twenty-first century.  Founded as the Club of Athens-Global Governance Group at the OECD by Ambassador Kimon Valaskakis, the initiative evolved into a partnership with the City of Athens to jointly establish the New School of Athens 2006.

The New School of Athens aims at becoming a twenty-first century version of Plato's ancient Academy, focusing on issues of globalization and democratization of world governance.  In particular, it will attempt to bring together the "free market" vision of globalization as exemplified by the World Economic Forum in Davos and the alternative views of sustainable development expressed by the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre.

For more information on the New School of Athens and the March 2006 conference contact:  Camilla Schippa, Outreach Officer, UNFIP, e-mail: ; or Annette Katravas, e-mail:  or .

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