UN World Summit adopts landmark outcome document on raft of crucial issues

16 September 2005 – Culminating the largest-ever gathering of world leaders, the United Nations General Assembly today adopted a historic outcome document encapsulating a unified stance by the international community on a broad array of crucial issues, from concrete steps towards combating poverty and promoting development to unqualified condemnation of all forms of terrorism along with the acceptance of collective responsibility to protect civilians against genocide and other crimes against humanity.

“We reaffirm our faith in the United Nations and our commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter and international law,” proclaimed the text of the 2005 World Summit Outcome contained in a resolution adopted by acclamation at the end of the three-day meeting that was attended by 150 Heads of State and Government. “We believe that today, more than ever before, we live in a global and interdependent world. No State can stand wholly alone.”

Despite a number of notable omissions, the 40-page Outcome ironed out during down-to-the-wire negotiations was described by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a major breakthrough in several vital areas.

The document, for instance, expressed strong and unambiguous commitment by all governments, in donor and developing nations alike, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and to pledges that would raise an additional $50 billion a year by 2010 for fighting poverty. It also contained commitment by all developing countries to adopt national plans for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2006.

Another area, highlighted by Mr. Annan, the document called for timely and decisive collective Security Council action when national authorities manifestly fail to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It set up two new bodies, a Peacebuilding Commission to help countries in transition from war to peace, and a strengthened Human Rights Council.

Major elements in the document included:

  • Development – unambiguous commitment by all governments, in donor and developing nations alike, to achieve the MDGs by 2015; to pledges that would raise an additional $50 billion a year by 2010 for fighting poverty; agreement to consider additional measures to ensure long-term debt sustainability through increased grant-based financing, cancellation of 100 per cent of the official multilateral and bilateral debt of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs).
  • Terrorism – unqualified condemnation by all governments of terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes;” strong political push for a comprehensive convention against terrorism within a year. Support for early entry into force of the Nuclear Terrorism Convention; agreement to fashion a strategy to fight terrorism in a way that makes the international community stronger and terrorists weaker.
  • Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking – creation of a Peacebuilding Commission to help countries transition from war to peace, backed by a support office and a standing fund; new standing police capacity for UN peacekeeping operations.
  • Responsibility to Protect – unambiguous acceptance by all governments of the collective international responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; willingness to take timely and decisive collective action for this purpose, through the Security Council, when peaceful means prove inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to do it.
  • Human Rights, Democracy, and Rule of Law – decisive steps to strengthen the UN human rights machinery and agreement to establish a UN Human Rights Council during the coming year; welcome for new Democracy Fund which has already received pledges of $32 million from 13 countries; commitment to eliminate pervasive gender discrimination, such as inequalities in education and ownership of property, violence against women and girls and to end impunity for such violence.
  • Management Reform – broad strengthening of UN’s oversight capacity, including the Office of Internal Oversight Services; expanding oversight services to additional agencies; calling for developing an independent oversight advisory committee, and further developing a new ethics office.
  • Environment – recognition of the serious challenge posed by climate change and a commitment to take action through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; assistance to those most vulnerable, like small island developing states; agreement to create a worldwide early warning system for all natural hazards.
  • International Health – scaling up responses to HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria, through prevention, care, treatment and support, and the mobilization of additional resources from national, bilateral, multilateral and private sources; support for the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network of the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Humanitarian Assistance – Improved Central Emergency Revolving Fund to ensure that relief arrives reliably and immediately when disasters happen.
  • Updating UN Charter – decision to revise and update the Charter by winding up the Trusteeship Council, marking completion of UN’s historic decolonization role, and deleting anachronistic references to “enemy States.”
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