ESCAP TOKYO HEARING URGES HOLISTIC UNITED NATIONS FOR TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
TOKYO, 10 September (UN Information Centre) -- A more people-oriented, "holistic" United Nations may be better able to respond to the challenges and tensions of the millennium. That was one of the conclusions of a two-day hearing in Tokyo to discuss the challenges facing the United Nations in the twenty-first century, organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the United Nations University in Tokyo.
"The idealism we all felt when the United Nations was formed must not die", stated a panellist, adding that that United Nations is uniquely placed to deliver on that idealism. The hearing included representatives of civil society and governments in the region.
"Intergovernmental negotiations are sometimes hampered by age-old mind-sets. Maybe people should solve problems directly", suggested a participant. But a mind-set can work both ways, it was also stated by a participant who advocated a creative partnership between governments, private sector and civil society.
Ideas such as a global parliament, the need for more timely dispute settlement, a stand-by force for peacekeeping and establishment of a subsidiary organ or forum of NGOs as an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, were also discussed.
New ideas for strengthening the United Nations were not the only items on the agenda.
Participants agreed that the international and regional communities must deal with the major issues of development and try their best to reach the targets pledged by them at the United Nations major international conferences of the 1990s, ranging from environment and development to children's rights.
The international community was also urged to support the United Nations financially and technically. "We cannot expect the United Nations to do its myriad tasks without sufficient resources", an NGO participant said.
"We deserve the United Nations we get", said a government representative. "It is not a strange creature that exists on its own but rather it is our organization run by Member States and we must have a say in the major issues through the General Assembly and not just through the power of the veto." Equitable sharing of information was also very important in this technologically oriented world, it was noted.
In the discussion on human rights and good governance, a panellist underlined the fact that good governance requires a system of government that is transparent, accountable, just, fair, democratic, participatory and responsive to people's needs. "The United Nations has played an important role in developing
international law to ensure that these goals are met. And we want it to enhance this role in the future." One of the participants underlined that access to information by everyone, including disabled persons, women and children, should be guaranteed for promotion of good governance.
On strengthening the United Nations, Hisashi Owada, President, Japan Institute of International Affairs, proposed that it was essential for the United Nations, the Security Council in particular, to be reformed in order to "better represent the realities of the international community".
The hearing, hosted and sponsored by the Government of Japan, was part of a series of regional meetings held in Western Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America (still to be held) at the request of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. They are in preparation for the Millennium Assembly and Summit of the United Nations scheduled for September 2000.