With some 170 heads of State and government expected in New York in less than a month for the United Nations 2005 World Summit, civil society groups working with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) have launched a Website to voice their views on how to strengthen the world body as it confronts the challenges of extreme poverty and global security.
The Website, at http://www.undpingoconference.org, features an interactive discussion area, which went live Monday, to debate issues that will be addressed at the 58th Annual DPI/NGO (non-governmental organization) Conference, “Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal,” scheduled to take place at UN Headquarters in New York from 7-9 September.
That event kicks off one week ahead of the 2005 World Summit, which will run from 14-16 September and where world leaders gathered to mark the Organization’s 60th anniversary are expected to take advantage of what Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a "once in a generation opportunity" to forge a global consensus on development, security, human rights and UN renewal.
While the NGO Conference will be closed to the general public, the Website will enable social activists from around the world to participate in the discussion of issues as set forth in Mr. Annan’s report “In Larger Freedom,” which urged world leaders to take decisive action during the Summit on a "bold but achievable" blueprint for making the UN more efficient at tackling global problems.
The website also aims to increase the number of NGO Conference participants from around the world, especially NGO activists, youth, the media and the general public.
During the Conference, online participants will also be able to pose questions which may be addressed to panel speakers to enable real-time, virtual participation. The online discussion area for comments, questions and answers will be available before, during and after the Conference.
The discussion forum will feature several thematic issues based on the Secretary-General’s report, including development issues, peace and security, human rights and rule of law, strengthening the UN and the role of civil society in the United Nations. Each topic will be launched by a series of questions by a moderator, who will check the discussions daily. Special online sessions with high-level UN officials or NGO representatives will be announced separately.
The Website will host live a webcast of the panel discussions, which will feature Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner; Ann Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF; Juan Somavía, Director-General, International Labour Organisation; Anwarul Chowdhury, UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States; Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Gareth Evans, President and Chief Executive, International Crisis Group; Paul van Tongeren, Executive Director, European Centre for Conflict Prevention; and Bill Pace, Executive Director, World Federalist Movement.