BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H.E. MR. JULIAN R. HUNTE AT THE
ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS)
ASSOCIATED WITH THE UNITED NATIONS
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION (DPI)
CIVIL SOCIETY TAKES ACTION
Under-Secretary-General, Excellencies, Distinguished
Delegates, Ms Shirin Ebadi, human rights activist and
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2003, Representatives of
Non-governmental Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen:
am honoured to address this opening session of the Fifty-seventh
Annual Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations
associated with the United Nations Department of Public
Conference has set an impressive and timely task for
itself, in adopting as its theme, Millennium Development
Goals: Civil Society Takes Action. That task is to determine
how civil society might further direct and order its
initiatives to accord with the specific courses of action
Heads of Government, meeting in their largest gathering
ever, set out in their 2000 Millennium Declaration.
The undertakings made in the Declaration now finds expression
in the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an
essential part of the United Nations development agenda,
which accords with the ideals of the United Nations
The MDGs are the blocks with which the international
community can build, to eradicate poverty and hunger,
achieve universal education, promote gender equality,
improve maternal health and reduce child mortality,
combat deadly disease, including HIV/AIDS, promote sustainable
development, and develop partnerships for these purposes.
How well we build will be determined by political will
and by the effectiveness of our cooperative and collaborative
cooperation and collaboration of the nature we seek
to foster - and which is key to upholding the ideals
and objectives of the United Nations Charter and delivering
on the MDGs - requires partnerships. This point is emphasized
here because the accounting of the implementation of
the MDGs to date is far from encouraging. Much of what
needs to be achieved still remains in the realm of intentions
and commitments, rather than in the realm of accomplishments.
An enormous amount of work must be done to right our
balance sheet, if we are to meet the targets, including
those for 2015 and beyond. We must take up the hard
issues, and ask the difficult questions, even when there
are no easy answers.
Increasingly, the United Nations is partnering with
Non-governmental organizations, and these partnerships
are proving to be mutually beneficial. They extend the
global reach of the United Nations. They help raise
public awareness of issues before the United Nations,
and ensure that such issues are clearly understood.
They bring particular expertise and experience to bear
on policy setting and the implementation of courses
of action agreed by the United Nations, and assist in
channeling resources to where they are most needed.
Importantly, they positively influence public opinion
towards the United Nations by carrying the message of
what the organization is doing to improve the lives
of the world's peoples.
The Fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly gained
much from the participation of Non-governmental organizations
and civil society, particularly in its development work.
From the follow-up to the International Conference on
Financing for Development and the High-level Plenary
on HIV/AIDS to informal hearings on issues such as the
role of the business sector, commodities and tax cooperation,
non-governmental organizations and civil society made
important contributions to our collective efforts to
effectively address pressing global issues.
need to maintain the momentum towards meaningful partnership,
as challenges to the international community continue
unabated. There is, for example, considerable scope
for non-governmental organizations and civil society
to contribute towards the successful convening of the
high-level plenary the General Assembly will hold in
2005, during its Sixtieth Anniversary.
is well known, the high-level plenary will review follow-up
and implementation of the outcomes of more than a decade
of United Nations summits and conferences in the economic
and social fields, the MDGs, and other matters addressed
in the Millennium Declaration. Non-governmental organizations
and civil society organizations were participants in
all these gatherings; they also have a vested interest
in ensuring that the commitments made in these meetings
are kept, in the interest of advancing the United Nations
development agenda including the MDGs, and addressing
other issues for the maintenance of peace and security
in our world.
is also expected that non-governmental organizations
and civil society will play their part in respect of
other follow-up activities of the General Assembly.
Two activities of note are the follow-up to the Declaration
of Commitment on HIV/AIDS to be convened in June 2005
and the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of
Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States (SIDS), scheduled to be held in Mauritius
in January 2005.
as we build partnerships with NGOs and civil society,
a case continues to be made for greater involvement
of non-governmental organizations in the work of the
General Assembly. Our world is rapidly changing, and
the United Nations, including the General Assembly,
must continue to change with it.
process of revitalization of the General Assembly has
been significantly advanced during this Fifty-eighth
session, both in terms of strengthening its role and
authority as well as its working methods. The matters,
which the Cardoso Panel on United Nations-Civil Society
relations took up, and on which it has now reported,
can indeed be considered in the context of the General
Assembly revitalization processes. The Assembly will
no doubt speak to these issues directly in determining
how it might optimally build partnerships with non-governmental
organizations when it takes up the Cardoso report during
its Fifty-ninth session.
of non-governmental organizations, your participation
in significant numbers in this conference makes a strong
statement about your commitment to the MDGs. Moreover,
it underscores your determination to take action, in
partnership with the United Nations, to overcome obstacles
and to achieve the MDGs, to promote social progress
and better standards of life in larger freedoms.
wish to convey his best wishes for a successful and
proactive conference, and commend you for your energy,
dedication and commitment in working together with the
United Nations to uphold the letter and spirit of the