GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TWO-DAY DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY, WITH FOCUS ON UN REFORM PROPOSALS, 2005 WORLD SUMMMIT

23 June 2005
GA/10359

GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TWO-DAY DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY, WITH FOCUS ON UN REFORM PROPOSALS, 2005 WORLD SUMMMIT

23/06/2005
Press ReleaseGA/10359

Fifty-Ninth General Assembly

Plenary

105th Meeting (AM & PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TWO-DAY DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY,

WITH FOCUS ON UN REFORM PROPOSALS, 2005 WORLD SUMMMIT

Opening First-Ever Meeting, Deputy Secretary-General Says World

Can Tackle Threats Collectively, or Risk Increased Disorder, Inequality

Given the range of security threats and challenges -- from the proliferation of mass destruction weapons to the spread of poverty and infectious disease -- the world could either come together and tackle them collectively or risk increased tension, disorder and inequality, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said today, at the opening of a two-day General Assembly dialogue with non-governmental and civil society organizations and the private sector.

At the launch of the first-ever such meeting, centred on the Secretary-General’s reform proposals, Ms. Fréchette said the hearings were a significant new step in the way the United Nations related to civil society.  Most major United Nations meetings were occasions for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations and the private sector to participate in parallel events, such as round tables and workshops.  The hearings now took that interaction a step forward, as the international community was entering the most crucial phase of the 2005 process, in which governments had to decide the way forward.

A cross-section of some 200 civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and some 1,000 more observers, began presenting their views today for consideration by Member States as part of the preparations for the 2005 World Summit, scheduled for 14 to 16 September at Headquarters.  The interactive hearings were focused on the clusters of the Secretary-General’s report, “In Larger Freedom”, as follows:  freedom from want; freedom from fear; freedom to live in dignity; and strengthening the United Nations.

Calling today a historic moment, the President of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), Renate Bloem, said it built on a long history of growing interaction between governments and civil society.  The United Nations’ founders, themselves, had granted to NGOs through the Charter’s Article 71 a consultative relationship with the Economic and Social Council.  The extraordinary cycle of United Nations world conferences held before, and especially throughout the 1990s, and the process of democratization had led to a remarkable growth in the number of non-governmental organizations and civil society movements and the scope and diversity of their activities. 

For the first time since the founding of the United Nations, the General Assembly was holding hearings with civil society and the private sector, she said.  The hearings represented a significant step forward for the Organization itself and for all in civil society, which was a constant supporter of the principles of the United Nations and of multilateralism.  The moment had been long awaited by NGOs, which had worked intensively for 57 years to enhance its participation at the United Nations.  It was vital that Member States listened to the voices of the people, and he was grateful to the Assembly President for making the event happen. 

Having set up a civil society task force to assist in preparing for today’s hearings, General Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) said he had appreciated the sense of responsibility they had displayed in the task force, and he earnestly hoped that the hearings would provide the framework for a fruitful dialogue.  The groups represented here played a key role in terms of taking actions to counter the current global threats and challenges.  In many respects, the activities of the participants complemented those of States.  Indeed, they were States’ real partners and true participants in our collective societies.  He looked forward to the hearings’ contributions to mapping out our common future. 

Today’s informal interactive sessions were on:  Freedom to live in dignity; Freedom from want –- on Millennium Development Goals 1 to 7; and Freedom from want –- on Millennium Development Goal 8; and on issues of financing for development.  Goals 1 to 7 deal, respectively, with:  eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability.  Millennium Development Goal 8 concerns developing a global partnership for development.  

The morning interactive session focused on issues of promoting human rights and implementation of measures to ensure respect for human rights.  One afternoon session emphasized the participation in society and promoting the economic benefits of globalization.  The second afternoon session was on Millennium Development Goal 8, around which many speakers said achievement of all the other Goals depended.  The focus was on the need to open the way for developing countries to “trade themselves out of poverty”.

The session will continue at 10 a.m. Friday, 24 June.

Background

The General Assembly met this morning to launch its first-ever informal interactive hearings with representatives of civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.  The hearings, to be held over the next two days in accordance with General Assembly resolution 59/291 of 15 April, open with a brief plenary meeting, followed by informal interactive sessions and a closing.  The themes for the hearings would be based on the comprehensive report of the Secretary-General, entitled “In larger freedom:  towards development, security and human rights for all” (document A/59/2005).

Summary of Report

When the Secretary-General presented his report to the General Assembly on 21 March, he explained that it is called “In Larger Freedom” because those words from the United Nations Charter conveyed the idea that development, security and human rights went hand in hand.  The cause of larger freedom could only be advanced if nations worked together, and the United Nations could help only if it was remoulded as an effective instrument of their common purpose.

The report proposes an agenda to be taken up, and acted upon, at the high-level Summit, to be held at the opening of the Assembly’s sixtieth session in September.  It contains policy decision and reforms, which are actionable if the necessary political will can be garnered.  It lays out key proposals for development, security, human rights and United Nations renewal.

Key proposals for development:  developing countries to implement national action plans to meet the Millennium Development Goals, supported by increased development assistance by developed countries, including meeting their commitment to achieve the 0.7 per cent target of gross national income by 2015 or sooner; and mitigating the impact of climate change by mobilizing science and technology and committing to a more inclusive international framework for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions following the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

Key proposals for security:  agreement on a comprehensive convention against terrorism based on a clear and agreed definition, as part of a broader strategy to prevent catastrophic terrorism; States to complete, sign and implement a fissile material cut-off treaty to reduce the risks of proliferation of nuclear materials; and the creation of a United Nations Peacebuilding Commission to help win the peace in post-conflict countries. 

On human rights, the report advocates replacing the Human Rights Commission with a smaller, more empowered standing United Nations Human Rights Council.  It calls on all States to embrace the “responsibility to protect” as a basis for collective action against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and it suggests the creation of a Democracy Fund to provide funding and technical assistance to countries seeking to establish or strengthen their democracy.

Key proposals for United Nations renewal include:  expansion of the Security Council to make it more broadly representative of the international community as a whole and today’s geopolitical realities; and streamlining of the Secretariat to be more flexible, transparent and accountable in serving the priorities of Member States and the interests of the world’s peoples.

The report says that events since the Millennium Declaration demand that consensus be revitalized on key challenges and priorities and converted into collective action.  The guiding light in doing so must be the needs and hopes of people everywhere.  The world must advance the causes of security, development and human rights together, otherwise none will succeed.  Humanity will not enjoy security without development, it will not enjoy development without security, and it will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.

In a world of interconnected threats and opportunities, it is in each country’s self-interest that all of those challenges were effectively addressed, the report says.  Hence, the cause of larger freedom can only be advanced by broad, deep and sustained global cooperation among States.  The world needs strong and capable States, effective partnerships with civil society and the private sector, and agile and effective regional and global intergovernmental institutions to mobilize and coordinate collective action.  The United Nations must be reshaped in ways not previously imagined, and with a boldness and speed not previously shown.

In the section on freedom from want, the following are identified as priority areas for action in 2005:  national strategies; financing for development; trade; and debt relief.  New action is also needed to ensure environmental sustainability.  Other priorities include stronger mechanisms for infectious disease surveillance, a worldwide early warning system on natural disasters, support for science and technology for development, support for regional infrastructure and institutions, reform of global financial institutions, and more effective cooperation to manage migration for the benefit of all.

On freedom from fear, the report says that the United Nations must be transformed into the effective instrument for preventing conflict that it was always meant to be, by acting on several key policy and institutional priorities:  preventing catastrophic terrorism; nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; reducing the prevalence and risk of war; and use of force.  Other priorities include more effective cooperation to combat organized crime, to prevent illicit small arms trade, and to remove the scourge of landmines, which still kill and maim innocent people and hold back development in nearly half the world’s countries.

In terms of freedom to live in dignity, the summary recalls that Member States had stated in the Millennium Declaration that they would spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Over the last six decades, an impressive treaty-based normative framework has been advanced.  But, without implementation, these declarations ring hollow, and without action, promises are meaningless.  Action is called for in the following priority areas:  rule of law; human rights; and democracy.

On strengthening the United Nations, the summary says that, if the United Nations is to be a useful instrument for its Member States and for the world’s peoples, in responding to the challenges mentioned, it must be fully adapted to the needs and circumstances of the twenty-first century.  A great deal has been achieved since 1999 in reforming the internal structures and culture of the United Nations.  But, many more changes are needed, both in the executive branch –- the Secretariat and the wider United Nations system -- and in the United Nations’ intergovernmental organs.

Concerning the General Assembly, the report says that it should take bold measures to streamline its agenda and speed up the deliberative process.  It should concentrate on the major substantive issues of the day, and establish mechanisms to engage fully and systematically with civil society.  The Security Council should be broadly representative of the realities of power in today’s world.  The Secretary-General supports the principles for reform set out in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and urges Member States to consider the two options, Models A and B, presented in that report, or any other viable proposals in terms of size and balance that have emerged on the basis of either Model.  Member States should agree to take a decision on this important issue before the Summit in September.

The report advocates reform of the Economic and Social Council so that it can effectively assess progress in the development agenda, serve as a high-level development cooperation forum, and provide direction for the efforts of the various intergovernmental bodies in the economic and social area throughout the United Nations system.  The report finds that the Commission on Human Rights “suffers from declining credibility and professionalism, and is in need of major reform”.  It should be replaced by a smaller Human Rights Council, as a principal organ of the United Nations or subsidiary of the General Assembly, whose members would be elected directly by the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.

On reform of the Secretariat, the report says that the Secretary-General will take steps to realign the Secretariat’s structure to match the priorities outlined in the report, and will create a cabinet-style decision-making mechanism.  He requests Member States to give him the authority and resources to pursue a one-time staff buy-out to refresh and realign staff to meet current needs, to cooperate in a comprehensive review of budget and human resources rules, and to commission a comprehensive review of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to strengthen its independence and authority.

Other priorities include creating better system coherence by strengthening the role of resident coordinators, giving the humanitarian response system more effective standby arrangements, and ensuring better protection of internally displaced people.  Regional organizations, particularly the African Union, should be given greater support.  The Charter itself should also be updated to abolish the “enemy clauses”, the Trusteeship Council and the Military Staff Committee, all of which are outdated.

The Secretary-General concludes in the report that it is for the world community to decide whether this moment of uncertainty presages wider conflict, deepening inequality and the erosion of the rule of law, or is used to renew institutions for peace, prosperity and human rights.  Now is the time to act.  The annex to the report lists specific items for consideration by heads of State and government.  Action on them is possible.  From pragmatic beginnings could emerge a visionary change of direction for the world, states the report.

Statements

JEAN PING (Gabon), General Assembly President, emphasized that it was the first time the Assembly had organized such hearings.  They provided an excellent opportunity to continue the dialogue among Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and the private sector.  As the high-level panel’s report had indicated, the latter three groups played a key role, particularly in terms of taking actions to counter the current global threats and challenges.  He, thus, welcomed civil society, the NGOs and the private sector, and he expressed his appreciation for the sense of responsibility they had displayed in the task force he had created in preparation for the hearings.  Despite their informal nature, he had encouraged Member States to participate.

As everyone knew, he reiterated that the main purpose of the hearings was to hear the contributions of non-governmental organizations and civil society and the private sector in advance of the high-level plenary meeting in September.  He earnestly hoped that the hearings would provide the framework for fruitful dialogue.  Afterwards, he would prepare a report to be published as an official document of the Assembly, which would, no doubt, be a significant contribution to Member States’ deliberations in planning for the September Summit.  In many respects, the activities of the participants here complemented those of States.  Indeed, they were the “real partners” of States and true participants in our collective societies.  He looked forward to the hearings’ contributions to mapping out our common future.

Deputy Secretary-General LOUISE FRÉCHETTE said the presence of so many civil society representatives today was important for two reasons, including that the process under way this year would be decisive for the United Nations future.  Two years ago, the Secretary-General had said that the United Nations had “come to a fork in the road”.  Recent events had called into question the consensus behind the shared vision expressed in the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit in 2000.  Humanity was faced with a range of threats and challenges to its security, from the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and trafficking in small arms to the spread of infection disease and poverty, the latter being the biggest threats to the majority of people on the planet.

“We face a choice of coming together to tackle those challenges collectively, or we risk increased tension, disorder and inequality”, she said.  In the last several months, a great deal of thinking had been done on those issues.  The reports of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Millennium Project had offered thoughtful analysis of the challenges of the current time, as well as bold yet practical proposals on how to deal with them.

The Secretary-General’s own report, “In Larger Freedom”, had underlined, in particular, the interconnected nature of the challenges facing the international community, she added.  The report made clear that development, security and human rights were not only ends in themselves, but also that they reinforced and depended on each other.  In an interconnected world, the human family would not enjoy development without security or security without development, and it would not enjoy either without respect for human rights.  This year offered an opportunity to address those linked challenges at once.

The international community was entering the most crucial phase of the 2005 process, the one in which governments had to decide on the way forward, she said.  A few weeks ago, the General Assembly President had tabled a draft outcome document for the September World Summit. Member States had just begun negotiations to reach agreement on a final outcome.  The issues on the table were relevant to every human being on the planet.  If the September Summit took decisions that helped strengthen collective security, if the world provided the means to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and if governments recognized the centrality of human rights and United Nations reform, then all the world’s peoples would benefit.  In that process, the voice of civil society representatives had to be heard.

The hearings were also important in that they represented a significant new step in the way the United Nations related to civil society, she said.  Most major United Nations meetings were occasions for non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector to participate in parallel events, such as round tables and workshops.  The hearings took that interaction a step forward.  Through a decision of the General Assembly, time had been reserved in its formal deliberative process to bring in the views of civil society in an organized fashion.  The fact that the Assembly President was himself chairing the hearings indicated the importance Member States attached to the two days.  She hoped that format would be used again as part of the Assembly’s efforts overall to interact more with non-State actors.  That recommendation had been advanced by the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations-Civil Society Relations.

Concluding, she thanked the Governments of Canada, Finland and Norway for their generous contributions to the trust fund set up to support participation by developing country civil society representatives in the hearings.

RENATE BLOEM, President of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), said that today was a historic moment.  For the first time since the founding of the United Nations, the General Assembly was holding hearings with civil society and the private sector.  Those hearings represented a significant step forward for the Organization itself, and for all in civil society, which was a constant supporter of the principles of the United Nations and of multilateralism.  The CONGO had worked intensively for 57 years to enhance civil society’s participation at United Nations forums.

She said that the moment had long been awaited by non-governmental organizations, which had advocated for decades to have a special relationship with the General Assembly, the highest deliberative body of the United Nations.  Their appeal had been head by the Secretary-General himself who, in his reform report, agreed that “the goals of the United Nations can only be achieved if civil society and governments are fully engaged” and that “prior to major events, the Assembly could institute the practice of holding interactive hearings between Member States and civil society representatives that have the necessary expertise on the issues on the agenda”.  That moment had now come, and he welcomed all governments who were present to interact with civil society.

The September Summit constituted one such “major event”, she said, as the seats would be occupied by world leaders with the capacity to make decisions affecting, not only the United Nations’ future, but the kind of world we would all be living in.  It was time to speak up for what he believed.  The civil society representatives today came from diverse backgrounds, traditions, interests and values, but they shared a profound conviction that the United Nations was essential and that its effectiveness depended on giving operational reality to the interdependence of development, security and human rights in all its programmes.

She said that if today was a crucial moment in history, it built on a long history of growing interaction between governments and civil society.  The United Nations’ founders, themselves, had granted to non-governmental organizations through the Charter’s Article 71 a consultative relationship with the Economic and Social Council.  The extraordinary cycle of United Nations world conferences held before, and especially throughout the 1990s, and the process of democratization had led to a remarkable growth in the number of NGOs and civil society movements and the scope and diversity of their activities.

The United Nations Charter, itself, was proclaimed in the name of “We the Peoples”, she said.  Today’s participants marked the evolution of international relations and the emergence of a global civil society, which now, as never before, rallied around the Millennium Development Goals and the Campaign and Global Call to Action against Poverty.  It was vital, therefore, that Member States listened to the voices of the people, and he was grateful to the Assembly President for making the event happen. 

She said that participants had come prepared to offer their ideas and recommendations, often based on first-hand experience with the issues they were called upon today to address:  poverty and development; human rights; peace and security; and the need to shape a more democratic system of global governance by reforming and strengthening the United Nations.  She hoped, therefore, that their voices would not only be listened to, but heard, so that they might have a substantive impact on the document to be submitted to the Summit.  Hopefully, the hearings would not be an isolated event, but would help move the relationship from an historical precedent to a more formal institutionalized way of interacting.  In today’s new era, governments and civil society must work hand in hand to relegate wars, poverty, and human rights violations to the dustbin of history, she said.

Interactive Segment on Freedom to Live in Dignity

General Assembly President Jean Ping opened the interactive segment on “Freedom to Live in Dignity”, with Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch serving as Rapporteur.  Segment Moderator Cyril Ritchie of the Environmental Liaison Center International made a brief statement on the appropriateness of the “Rule of Law” theme for the upcoming Assembly Summit.

Statements

MOHAMMED AL-GHANIM of the Global Youth Action Network said the Secretary-General’s report and the discussion on Freedom to Live in Dignity had elevated the idea of human rights for the first time to go hand in hand with democracy and security.  The fact that Member States had just discovered that, however, was a human wrong, he said.  Neither security nor development could be achieved without human rights, and the right to live in dignity was a right of all people, and especially of young people, who were barely mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report.

Member States -- especially those more powerful than others -- could no longer afford to press their own agendas on smaller States, and they could not continue to favour a certain people over another, he continued.  If the first five years of the millennium had taught us anything, it was that States could no longer stand to be indifferent.  He believed that human rights should be implemented by using a culturally sensitive approach, and that States must win people over as opposed to forcing ideologies.  The key was to have a world cultural dialogue to address issues of human rights, including terrorism and other issues, and he recommended that the Human Rights Council be a standing body.

CHARLOTTE BUNCH of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership said the draft outcome paper did not adequately reflect the weight that should be given to the question of women’s human rights concerns.  For example, violence against women was rampant worldwide, but it was treated as a mere afterthought in the report.  Ending impunity for violence against women should be a top priority.  A vigorous defence of women’s human rights should be central at the upcoming Summit.  The resources and political will must be expended to secure women’s rights, and the Summit should be dedicated to making sure governments did so.  “If not at the 2005 Summit, when?” she said.  Also, women-specific entities in the United Nations must be adequately funded to mainstream women’s issues into other programmes.

YVONNE TERLINGEN of Amnesty International welcomed the clear acknowledgement in the draft outcome document that human rights were a pillar of the United Nations system, along with development and security. It was not clear from reading the document, however, that human rights formed the foundation for many decisions that heads of State and government would adopt in September.  The September document, she said, must make clear that human rights were the foundation for many efforts to achieve freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to live in dignity.

She urged all governments in September to, among other things, reaffirm the human rights commitments they made during the past 60 years; commit to spare no effort to protect full enjoyment of all human rights for everyone; commit to take measurable steps to fully implement obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all human rights instruments to which States were a party; and commit to a concerted effort to reach universal adherence to the core international human rights treaties and their protocols by 2015. She also welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to create a standing Human Rights Council, which she said must build on the great achievements of the Commission on Human Rights, yet addressed its current weaknesses.

GARETH LLEWELLYN of the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights said his group worked with both governments and businesses to advance human rights in countries by promoting good business practices.  Groups such as his did not take away from the importance of governments in promoting human rights, particularly when dealing with actions of transnational corporations.  Accountability was key because without it there is a tendency to fall down on the job.  He supported the proposal to designate a special representative on the matter of business and human rights.  Two key areas to look into were the sphere of corporate influence and complicity in human rights violations.  Business could be a force for good.  Small- and medium-sized businesses working with corporations could be the key to linking good business practices with advancing human rights.  Business and government must work together under the guidance of the United Nations to prevent complicity in human rights abuses.

Welcoming the proclaimed determination to make human rights one of three pillars, ANTOINE MADELIN of the International Federation for Human Rights said that an essential gap, however, was the fact that there was no practical implementation of States of the various mechanisms.  There was also an incapacity of the international community to react swiftly to the most serious violations of human rights.  As such, there needed to be a strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as an increase in financial resources and in diversity of staff. He also believed that the candidacy of the future States of the Human Rights Council should be based on a commitment to cooperate on a permanent basis with the special procedures of the United Nations, and he welcomed the determination to have no country escape or circumvent human rights, under the concept of peer review.  However, he added that such a self-review would lead to self-absolution.

BETTY MURUNGI of the Urgent Action Fund for Africa said gender inequality was a most neglected area in the many forms of human rights abuse, despite mainstreaming of the issue into other programmes.  Accountability was a critical factor in promoting the human rights of all women rather than just some.  Governments must ensure that women took part in the upcoming Summit.  Women and children were not mere participants in society, but central stakeholders.  Their role was central to all activities and policy considerations.

RATHA SOURN of the Commune Council Support Project and Cambodia Millennium Campaign said that, in developing countries such as Cambodia, corruption had become the key element of human rights violations.  The trafficking of women and children were still high in his country, and that needed to be addressed in many nations.  He recommended that the United Nations should allow poor people to participate in decision-making, and that individual governments should do the same.  He added that the rule of law, democracy, and human rights were intertwined with poverty reduction, but said that, while the freedom to live in dignity existed on paper, it still did not exist in the world.

ZONIBEL WOODS of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development spoke on the feminization of HIV/AIDS, as related to sexual and other forms of violence against women.  She said the link was well known between the violation of women’s sexual rights and poverty.  Denial of human rights based on sex or gender resulted in more violence.  Agreements on equality of human rights for women had already been made, but implementation had not been achieved.  Gender equality and women’s human rights must be made a central theme in the Summit.  Governments must use the occasion to reaffirm their commitments and to demonstrate that the United Nations is an organization that promotes the welfare of all its members.

Dialogue

In the interactive dialogue that followed, a number of speakers stressed the need to include women, children, youth, and indigenous people when discussing and taking action on human rights.  One speaker emphasized the need to advance the rights of older men and women living in poverty and called for social pensions for older people to be a part of any national development plan.  Several speakers called for the international community to commit itself to poverty reduction as a whole in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Another speaker called for the International Criminal Court to be strengthened, so as to address the atrocities committed by transnational corporations across the world.

Speaking further on the theme of “freedom to live in dignity”, speakers stressed the need to advance the enjoyment of human rights for all people and to strengthen the commitment to democracy.  Several stressed the responsibility of the United Nations to protect human rights and prevent genocide.  Some called for strengthening and reforming the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, while others supported the establishment of a Human Rights Council within the United Nations.  One speaker called for human rights to be celebrated at the Summit.

A speaker for Lawyers without Borders said he would like the outcome document to be more specific on how human rights could be better enforced and how accountability could be strengthened.  He wanted more detail on implementation and less generality on issues.

The representative of Egypt was the first MemberState to respond to concerns voiced by the civil society speakers.  He said material support for all the initiatives should be addressed through development efforts.  To ensure that all rights were respected, international insecurity had to end.  Diversity did not have to be a factor that caused enmity, but could be one that promoted unity.  Initiatives in Africa, for example, were under-supported.  There should be more interactive work among all States, without artificial benchmarks or claims of supremacy.  The democratic atmosphere to be implemented worldwide should start at the United Nations.

Chile’s representative said the atmosphere in the room was dynamic since many at the United Nations took for granted the importance of such issues as children’s rights, but many in civil society did not know it was an issue being taken up at the United Nations.  Human rights and national sovereignty were both central concerns at the United Nations.  Both were weighty with rights, but also with responsibilities.  The United Nations had a responsibility to protect and to contribute to development, to help those most in need.  “Yes, we are our brother’s keepers”, he said, when it came to advancing rights, such as making sure all people had clean drinking water.

Argentina’s representative said he favoured the formation of a Human Rights Council.  The United Nations must be central in the protection of human rights.  The United Nations should have more power to intervene in the areas where human rights were being violated.  The tie between the United Nations and civil society through the Human Rights Commission had strengthened from the days when civil society couldn’t even speak at Commission sessions.

The representative of Norway said he had taken note of the various views presented, and stressed that States would continue to work on the issues.  He emphasized the need to achieve gender equality in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Regarding the responsibility to protect, he said that, while some believed that what was in the document had not gone far enough, it was necessary to realize how far Member States had actually come in terms of having concrete language in the present document.

Germany’s representative said that the various representatives of civil society and NGOs had underlined the importance of human rights in all of its aspects, which meant that the human being was really at the centre of efforts.  There would be no reform in the fields of security and development if human rights were not included, he said.  The proposal in the draft outcome document for a Human Rights Council was very important, he added, and he called on the NGO representatives to recommend how such a new body should be structured.

Canada’s representative expressed her country’s strong commitment to multilateralism, civil society partnerships and coordination, and added that she was pleased to see a broad representation at the meeting.

In summary, the Rapporteur, Ms. HICKS, said Member States had stressed the interrelationship between security, development and human rights, and said that human rights were a foundation to security and development.  Participants had emphasized the need to elevate human rights to the principal role of the United Nations, as well as the importance of civil society access in involvement both in the current process and in the work of the United Nations more generally. Numerous participants, she said, had also called for the strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as for a doubling of resources for that Office within five years and a strengthening of the Office’s field presence and presence in New York.

Regarding the Human Rights Council, she continued, there was support for the elevation and creation of that as a principal body within the United Nations, which would be able to respond promptly.  She also highlighted the need to continue the rule of non-governmental organizations within that body and within civil society access.  Speakers had also emphasized the importance of having the role of women in human rights be recognized much more strongly than it had been, and of the inclusion of youth and a focus on children’s rights, she said.  Lastly, she stressed that Member States needed to be aware of the importance of real action on human rights in the upcoming summit.

Interactive Segment on Freedom from Want (Millennium Development Goals 1 to 7)

General Assembly President Jean Ping opened the interactive session on “Freedom From Want”, the segment on Millennium Development Goals 1 to 7, with Shannon Kowalkski of Family Care International serving as Rapporteur.  The segment was moderated by Aruna Rao, Director of Gender at Work.

Statements

GLADMAN CHIBEMEME of Africa 2000 + Network Foundation said he appreciated and recognized the role of the United Nations in human rights, but noted with great concern that there was a lack of connectivity between documents and action on the ground.  Indigenous communities should be empowered, and he proposed a mechanism for enabling communities to play a leading role in the Millennium Development Goals.  It was necessary to establish a global community learning network, and for the national and international community to address the eradication of poverty.  All of the Millennium Development Goals, he said, needed to be implemented within the framework of environmental sustainable development, and communities must also be able to sustainably manage their areas.  It was also necessary that HIV/AIDS and malaria were globally recognized as development priorities, and that women played a larger role in decision-making.  Lastly, he said that communities should be recognized as the foundation for delivering the Millennium Development Goals.

MIRNA CUNNINGHAM of MADRE said she wanted the outcome of the September Summit to consider the outcome of development.  She believed that the approach to development that had prevailed had focused on such things as the strengthening of markets, the liberalization of trade, and the production of goods primarily for export, but the results had been disastrous.  Furthermore, the proposed outcome document did not contain the importance of women, youth and children.  The causes of exclusion, discrimination and poverty that people faced were derived from deep cultural and historical causes that could only be changed with the participation of the poor, especially women.  She added that the Millennium Development Goals relied on the discredited notion that economic growth could eliminate poverty, but it was crucial that the Goals address the right to own and inherit property, violence, discrimination, and intercultural education to reduce poverty and counter discrimination.  The attainment of the Millennium Development Goals must be rooted in human rights, she added.

GEETA RAO GUPTA of the InternationalCenter for Research on Women said freeing women from injustice was a prominent goal of the Millennium Goals and the empowerment of women was central to achieving all the others.  Investments in women benefited men.  For that reason, both the section on freedom from want and the draft outcome document were disappointing in their treatment of concerns about women’s rights.  The core actions to be taken for achieving equality of rights for women had already been elaborated.  They were in the areas of education, universal access to reproductive information and assistance, reduction of labour-intensive time-consuming tasks for women, improving inheritance rights, closing gender gaps in earning, increasing women’s participation in government and, finally, reducing violence against women.  Technical resources must be provided to build the mechanisms for getting those changes implemented in order to ensure the freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom to live in dignity for all people.

TORLEIF JONASSON of UNA-Denmark said the Millennium Development Goals left many gaps in the core issues to be addressed for achieving women’s right to freedom from want.  For example, the universal right to reproductive information and care should be incorporated in the relevant sections.  Achieving sustainable development was also essential for ensuring all people’s right to freedom from want.  The emphasis should be on the sustainability of production and consumption.  A summit on human security should be held in 2010.  It should also be remembered that NGOs and civil society were essential components in achieving the Goals today.  During an NGO meeting in his country earlier this month, the president had delivered this message: globalization puts a strain on all governments.  Non-governmental organizations must help governments attain their goals.

YAA NTIAMOA-BAIDU of the World Wide Fund for Nature International said that there could be no peace without equitable development, and no development without sustainable management.  Poverty could not be fixed in the long term unless there existed a healthy environment, but the process surrounding the Millennium Development Goals did not adequately reflect the importance of healthy ecosystems.  Millennium Development Goal 7 was the only goal with direct links to environmental issues, and shamefully it was where the governments of the world were not measuring up, she said.  Member States must remember that the Millennium Development Goals were interconnected and could not be achieved separately.  She added that environmental degradation could and would jeopardize the livelihoods and well-being of the rich and poor alike.  The truth, however, was that the rich had the means to cushion the impacts, while the poor had to bear the full brunt, with woefully inadequate basic provisions for life.

ISAGANI SERRANO of Philippines Rural Reconstruction Movement said that the world economy had grown, but there had been little progress in closing the rich-poor divide.  It was amazing to him how so little had changed.  Sustainable development was about justice and fairness between nations and societies, and Member States already had a global plan for that.  He believed that the real transfers from the rich to the poor were possible only if the rich changed the way in which they saw the world.  If the non-poor really chose to lend a hand, then ending poverty now was really possible.  In addition, he said that poverty was a moral obligation and that it could be ended.

JACQUELINE COTE of World Business Council for Sustainable Development said the poorest people of societies must be enabled to participate in local markets and in that way share in the fruits of globalization.  Three steps to be taken to increase poor people’s participation in the global market at the local level:  improve the regulatory framework for participation, promote entrepreneurship and invest in building the infrastructure for participation by such steps as building roads.  Those steps benefiting both multinational corporations and governments would be self-reinforcing.  As businesses promoted development and meet the needs of the poor, more sustainable development elements could be included in the government’s policies.  If governments created business-friendly climates, businesses would look for business solutions to their governance problems.

ARUNA RAO, session Moderator, recapped the issues that had been raised.  She said the themes that had emerged included:  the questioning of development assumptions; gender equality and women’s rights; community-level control of development and resources; sustainable use of environment and resources; and the growth of private sector participation in government work.

In the dialogue that followed, several speakers stressed the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals in relation to promoting the right to freedom from want.  Many stressed the importance of providing reproductive and sexual information.  A number of them emphasized the need to ensure sexual health for young people.  One expressed frustration that the outcome document did not work the question of population growth in the Millennium Goals.  He said that poverty could not be eradicated without taking population growth into consideration.

Many speakers stressed the importance of participation and State responsibility to help people participate in their societies.  A representative of Human Rights Watch said another important factor in people’s ability to participate was state respect for human rights.

The outcome document should more strongly reflect a human rights angle in language setting out state responsibility, one speaker stated.  She said that was the way to address the issues being covered in an age when states reneged on responsibilities to each other and on obligations to take care of their people.  Their responsibilities on involvement of third parties such as corporations should also be covered.

A number of speakers called for the inclusion of young people in decision-making.  They said that young people should be more involved and integrated in the development of their countries.

Other speakers stressed the need for poverty reduction and for responsible wealth in order to help people worldwide achieve their right to freedom from want.  They also said that the way to achieve that freedom was to promote sustainable development in both production and consumption.  Finally, a speaker noted that people with disabilities had been left out of the outcome document, “as always”, he added.

Responding to comments, Tunisia’s representative welcomed the emphasis on the wording of “eradicating” poverty rather than merely “reducing” it.  She also noted that a Summit on the Information Society would be held in Tunis in November.  The Summit would focus on the digital divide and on digital solidarity.

Sweden’s representative said that the Millennium Development Goals served as both a road map and a yardstick for measuring how far the aims had been reached. Countries should monitor themselves to see how well they were doing in reaching their aims.  Sweden had submitted its “Millennium Plus 5” report.

Luxembourg’s representative spoke on behalf of the European Union and associated States, to support the decision by the European Commission to increase its support for development by 2015 to 20 million euros per year.

Chile’s representative said the atmosphere in the room was charged with the electricity of civil society’s involvement.  The invited guests were expressing surprised that the United Nations dealt with issues such as children’s rights.  Those were core issues for the United Nations but nobody outside the Organization was aware of its work.  The involvement of civil society members gave the United Nations a conscience.  “Please be patient with us,” he added.

Interactive Segment on Freedom from Want (Millennium Development Goal 8)

And Financing for Development

Moderating the meeting this afternoon on Millennium Development Goal 8, on policies for action, and on financing for development issues, JOHN LANGMORE, United Nations Association (UNA), Australia, said he sought the creation of an international context more sympathetic to enabling social and economic development.  The “MDG 8” Goal proposed policies for action to counter some of the systemic impediments to development, which some developing countries had to overcome.  Attention this afternoon should be given to such topics as trade barriers, setting time-based targets for reaching the United Nations’ goal of 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA), innovative financing sources, debt cancellation, youth employment, increased access to essential pharmaceuticals, and the plight of small island States, among others.

He urged that concrete mechanisms be reported to Member States for possible inclusion in the September Summit’s outcome document.  The hearings should produce concrete ideas and proposals, including ones not presently included in the draft outcome text.  Hopefully, civil society representatives would continue the pattern set this morning of making disciplined contributions.

PEGGY ANTROBUS, Development Alternatives for Women for a New Era, said women’s networks wanted to stress the indivisibility of the eight Goals and that women’s equality and empowerment were cross-cutting issues for all of them.  None of the freedoms could be achieved without addressing the full array of human rights, including women’s rights.  Achieving Goal 8 was critical for the achievement of all the other Goals.  Despite official rhetoric, a policy framework that privileged the market over the State was one that gave priority to profits over the needs of people.  Civil society organizations must resist the economic paradigm of “marketization”.  Goal 8 was full of contradictions, including that trade liberalization could solve the problem of poverty.  Trade liberalization policies might even worsen existing gender inequalities.  She called on governments to acknowledge that neo-liberal policies had actually acerbated the problems they were supposed to address.  The Summit outcome must ensure that trade rules were dedicated to poverty eradication.  Recipient countries should ensure that a necessary amount of aid received was earmarked for the implementation of commitments to achieve gender equality.

ROBERTO BISSIO of the Instituto del Tercer Mundo said women constituted a disproportionate part of the world’s power.  Yet, less than 7 per cent of aid went to women.  There seemed to be a contradiction between the promises and commitments and what actually happened on the ground.  Social progress had slowed since 1999.  Someone was putting their foot on the brake and not the accelerator.  The world could produce a solution to the problem of poverty, but it was not doing so.  Instead, it was granting multinational corporations with rights and imposing a single formula on all countries.  The most powerful countries of the world were not meeting their obligations, and it was high time that they did.

Speaking for the private sector, RONNIE GOLDBERG, International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce, reaffirmed her support for the overriding goal of poverty eradication.  The business community had been deeply and constructively engaged in the United Nations Millennium Summit process.  It had identified priorities for cooperative action by governments, business and other sectors of society.  While governments had the main responsibility, continued concerted efforts and partnerships by all actors was required.  The private sector had an essential role to play -- without a healthy private sector, there could be no sustainable poverty eradication.  And, without investment, domestic and foreign, there could be no sustainable economic growth. 

Thus, she said she attached particular importance to the successful conclusion of the Doha round of trade talks, in which greater market access must be emphasized if countries were to “trade themselves out of poverty”.  South-South trade offered additional gains.  She called particular attention to three key areas of domestic, legal and regulatory frameworks, as identified by the Secretary-General as having a strong impact on the business environment:  reduce bureaucratic “red tape”; formally registry properties so as to ensure property rights; and effectively enforce contracts and protect the creditors’ rights.  Enabling environments for enterprises of all sizes and sectors would be able to develop, create jobs and pursue technological innovations alongside good governance and reduced trade barriers.  That would open significant routes out of poverty and advance achievement of the other Goals. 

MAMA KOITE, African Women’s Development and Communication Network/FEMNET of Mali, said that income distribution was the origin of poverty, which was also rooted in ethnic marginalization.  Accumulation of wealth and power by a few also led to poverty.  Economic growth was not a solution, in itself, because growth often came at the expense of rights violations and inequality.  Nor was external aid, alone, the answer.  The Millennium Development Goals had emphasized a set of clear objectives to be achieved by 2015.  Those were essential for sub-Saharan Africa, where the development challenges were complex.  Among them was the need to take into account reproductive health rights, combat poverty and violence against women, and HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. 

She said that omitted from the draft outcome document had been the importance of empowering women, and the promotion of children’s rights and human rights, among other things.  Trade liberalization had also not appeared in the text.  Nor had it taken into account the ways in which the markets of certain countries were circumventing the rules of the game.  It must be made possible for developing countries to participate on favourable terms, for which she must insist on deepened policy participation of the international financial institutions.  In addition, all governments should take drastic measures to reduce the greenhouse effects, as destruction of the environment had an even greater impact on poor people.  She sought a world summit on human security in 2010.  Peace, development and human rights, and protection of the environment were interdependent and indivisible.  Education must be seen in a broader framework and not be confined to teaching only elementary knowledge. 

MARIE-MATHILDE MANGA, Africa’s Women’s Association, said it was regrettable that Africa was still living at a lower level than other continents.  One had to ask why that imbalance existed.  How was it possible that China and India had made progress while African countries had suffered setbacks?  While there were institutions and programmes on good governance, the results were far from satisfactory.  One had to wonder why everything had failed.  How could one talk about freedom from want when thousands upon thousands were living below the poverty level?  While Africa had made some progress, it was still very indebted.  In that regard, Africa had to take its fate in its own hand.  The continent’s development had to come from within, and not without.  Governments, media and civil society must be involved in the process.  Some United Nations mechanisms, such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), should be further strengthened to play their role in women’s projects.  Among the challenges facing Africa was HIV/AIDS and malaria, a disease which continued to plague the continent.  All segments of civil society had to participate in the development process.

JENS MARTENS, Global Policy Forum, noted that the year 2005 marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the non-implementation of the 0.7 ODA target –- an anniversary one would hardly wish to celebrate.  The gap between military expenditures and ODA was a scandal.  In May 2005, the European Union had adopted a binding timetable to increase ODA.  He welcomed that decision and asked other countries to follow suit.  Governments had to move from commitment to concrete budget allocations and forsake cheap accounting tricks.  A few governments had even proposed broadening the definition of ODA to help them reach the target.  Even if the Millennium Development Goals were achieved by 2015, hundreds of millions would be living in extreme poverty.  Innovative finance mechanisms were needed.  The September event provided a unique opportunity to make progress and to promote sustainable development and end poverty.  It would be very disappointing if governments did little more than “take note with interest”.

SARADHA RAMASWAMY IYER, Third World Network, Malaysia, said that trade invariably trumped even politics.  It drove the global economy and held the key to all of the Millennium Development Goals, yet the World Trade Organization (WTO) remained outside the purview of the United Nations system.  The United Nations reform process must strengthen the Economic and Social Council so that the World Bank, the WTO and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies were in tune with United Nations values and norms.  Failure to do so would be tantamount to the “business as usual” scenario, with the poor continuing to pay the price for the follies of those institutions and the United Nations remaining unable to address the terrible scourges of our times. 

She emphasized the linkages between trade and development, and the need to address the imbalance and asymmetries perpetrated by the current trade regime.  Today’s exercise was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, through Goal 1, to restructure the whole multilateral system.  Regrettably, the international community was not on track to do that.  The draft text relegated trade to various sections, without devoting direct attention to it.  In September, she expected, therefore, to hear “feel good” exultations and pronouncements of quick wins, such as selective debt cancellation.  Admittedly, such moves were long overdue and very welcome, but it was fair trade that would ultimately help each country escape the poverty trap.  The benefits of fair trade were worth 20 times what aid could do.

Interactive Discussion

In the following discussion, the representative of Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union, said development was an issue for the Union and a central dimension of the ambitious outcome they wanted to see for the September Summit.  Development was a shared responsibility.  One would have to conclude that to implement the Millennium Development Goals more and better aid was needed.  The Union was on track to fulfilling its Monterrey commitments.  New European Union members were also involved in the process.  The definition of what constituted ODA was a matter of international agreement and was in no way something countries could agree upon on there own.  New European Union objectives would translate into mobilizing an additional amount of some 20 billion euros by 2010, of which 50 per cent would be devoted to the specific needs of Africa.  The Union wanted to make a significant contribution to the discussion in view of the September Summit.  Trade was a driving force of economic growth and development, and the European Union was committed to the Doha development round.  The Union, for example, had offered the provision of quota free market access for all products originating from least developing countries, expect for arms.

Another speaker talked about the “disconnect” between national and international economic policies.  Despite the merits of trade liberalization, the scope of trade liberalization was relevant in different ways to different country markets.  The question of releasing resources through debt relief and aid was very important, but the “straitjacket” of what constituted acceptable policies should also be released.  Drawing attention to certain omissions in the draft, he cited paragraph 26 -– the Africa section -– in which no mention had been made of the importance of having nationally specific relevant strategies.  On financing for development, aid effectiveness had been underscored, but the importance of local ownership had been glossed over.  The document should relay a very strong message of the need to not impose global economic policies on individual countries.

Words without actions had little value, and unkept promises undermined credibility, another speaker asserted.  The gap between government and citizens should be highlighted.  He had seen fine words and fine objectives, but as soon as things moved into the next stages of planning and implementation, many ideas quickly evaporated.  If that did not change, then practices would be guided predominantly by interests other than those set out in the rhetoric.  He also stressed the importance of gender equality, without which, poverty could not be eradicated. 

Another speaker stressed the need to secure the planet.  Climate change was just the beginning of the exploitation and abuse to which the Earth had been exposed.  The poorest of the poor would become even poorer as their natural resources continued to shrink.  Modern life was not sustainable; only frugal societies could be the societies of the future, she warned. 

Attention was also drawn to the importance of United Nations reform, which was beneficial to both developing and developed countries.  The United Nations should be an example of efficient organization and management, which was transparent and credible, and untainted by any kind of mismanagement and impropriety.  The speaker fully agreed with assisting developing countries in formulating a strategy for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Agreement on debt relief and other cost-saving measures was also needed.  Things were on the right track.  The outcome text should integrate development with human rights and peace, and peace education, especially for the young, should be emphasized.

The representative of Norway stressed the need to capture and accelerate the momentum existing today.  The international community would be remiss if it did not welcome existing and growing momentum, including decisions made by the European Union and the Group of 8 ministers on debt relief.  Norway had been in a lonesome club for some time.  Timetables were needed.  Goal 8 was a very much about building partnerships.  For partnerships to work, it was important for donors to do more.  Recipient countries, however, had to take the primary responsibility for their own development, including by emphasizing good governance and anti-corruption measures.  The international community was on the right track for reaching the goals of the September Summit and the very important development agenda.

Addressing the needs of youth and children, another civil society representative noted that some 55 per cent of all people living on $2 a day were under the age of 21.  If the needs of children and youth were not addressed, the Goals would not be achieved.  He hoped the outcome document would include wording on the needs of young people and children.

How could a country as rich in resources as Cameroon still be in a state of poverty? a civil society representative from that country asked.  Aid had become an instrument for domination on the part of industrialized countries.  For ODA to lay the foundation for development, the leaders that misused aid needed to be sanctioned, as did the leaders of industrialized countries that supported them.  Assistance should not be given to countries that did not practice democracy.  Civilian populations needed to know where the money was going.  Aid must be directed to real needs.

It was a truism that poverty created wealth, another speaker said.  Market-centred development would not eradicate poverty.  The very definition of development needed to be understood.  Global educational programmes were necessary in that regard.  Policies did not solve problems -– people did.  There had been the growth of a new super power, namely global people power.   History showed that freedoms were never granted, they were taken.

Turning to ODA figures, Egypt’s representative said that some also included figures pertaining to debt relief and so forth, and so it had been suggested for the September Summit that ways and means to officially review the commitments for ODA be elaborated, including open reporting.  Such examination should also include a categorization of aid, which would make it clear whether the ODA figures mentioned related only to ODA and not to other assistance.  He also called for a strengthening of the interrelationship between the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

He said that the message on trade in the outcome text should include an adequate formulation that committed the leaders to instructing their trade ministers to take quick and appropriate measures to ensure that the Doha round actually benefited developing countries and the international development agenda.  On the imposition of international economic policies, he said that members of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China had raised the issue of providing adequate “policy space”, which had been taken up in the latest UNCTAD meeting and would be an important principle to include in September’s text. 

A member of a grass-roots organization expressed concern that development not get lost in the discussion of United Nations reform, and that freedom from want did not get subordinated to freedom from fear and freedom to live with dignity.  Development should be rooted in a rights-based approach.  Debt cancellation and aid quality were among the critical aspects of advancing the development agenda.  On aid, time-bound commitments were welcome, but those needed to be reached as a prerequisite to reaching the Millennium Development Goals targets.

He emphasized the role of civil society organizations as critical to the following critical tasks:  bringing innovation to the complex issues of poverty; ensuring interaction between fragmented communities; and entrenching public policies.  The role played by civil society organizations at the national level in monitoring governments’ promises and minimizing the gap between rhetoric and reality was equally critical. 

An NGO representative from evangelical Christian groups from both the North and South said he wanted to see in September a “proper, real road map to take us from here to 2015 to see the delivery of the ‘MDGs’”.  The draft outcome document had some positive aspects and the announcements on ODA had been welcome, but he did not think that the text had really provided the concrete road map that was required.  In reaching the first seven Millennium Development Goals, it was necessary to first achieve Millennium Goal 8.  Speaker after speaker had emphasized the key issues of “trade justice” and giving developing countries the “policy space” to centre development around their own concerns.  If the world was really to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, then it must create the proper framework to “take us from here to there”.  If that was not done right now, time would run out and it would be too late.

The representative of the Netherlands welcomed the urgency brought to the discussion on the need to fight poverty and act for the human rights of women.  Freedom from want would not get lost in September.  He welcomed the emphasis on the importance of achieving Goal 8.  He agreed that momentum already existed.  The international community already had a Monterrey Consensus whose implementation would be boosted by the Summit.  On trade, Member States were not aiming to have a feel good meeting in September, nor would their commitment falter after September.  Ownership of the development process was key.  He stressed also the importance of the private sector, as well as the importance of the United Nations finding better way to dialogue with civil society.

Addressing the issue of debt, a speaker from Zambia said he believed that trade rather than aid was the way for Africa to break donor dependence.  There was a disease called “donor fatigue” and Africans must stand on their own feet.  There was also the HIV/AIDS pandemic plaguing most of black Africa.  HIV/AIDS was wiping out the educated labour force that was supposed to be driving African economies.  Another issue was the question of brain drain.  African intellectuals were leaving en masse.  The people driving taxis in Europe and America were the people who were supposed to be driving the African economies.

Addressing the issue of ODA, several speakers stressed the need to increase aid and remove conditionalities.  Some speakers also emphasized the need to improve the efficiency of aid delivery.  In that regard, Member States should agree to adopt precise targets and evaluation criteria.  In terms of precise objectives, it was important to refer to the predictability of aid and the conditions sometimes tied ODA.  Noting that tax evasion cost developing countries some $70 billion a day, one speaker said the outcome document for the September Summit should agree on to the need to combat tax evasions to improve ODA for development.

Japan’s representative said his country was one of the donors that had not reached the 0.7 per cent target.  Japan would strive to realize the strategic expansion of its overall ODA volume.  Trade was the engine of development.  Japan’s imports from developing countries were among the highest of the ODA countries.  Agriculture was particularly important.  Fairness in trade rules needed to be improved.  He also supported private sector development in capacity building, particularly in the agricultural sector.

A representative of the labour union movement suggested the creation of a ninth development goal, on decent work.  She also stressed the need to include the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition of decent work in the Goals.  In terms of paradigm shifts, she emphasized the need to focus on employment growth and mechanisms to ensure that all workers -– urban and rural, men and women -– received a fair share of productivity gains.  The private sector had an important role to play in terms of job creation. 

Meeting the Development Goals would be a daydream if countries continued to have a needy mentality, another speaker said.  If African countries kept borrowing from developed countries they would continue to be their servants.  The Millennium Development Goals needed to focus on how developing countries could become self-sufficient.  In most of the developing countries, civil society representatives were considered enemies of the government.

The representative of the United Kingdom noted that global partnership was beginning to deliver results.  Civil society was playing a critical role in mobilizing support behind the development agenda.  While progress had been made, more was needed.  Leaders needed to mandate their trade representatives to make breakthroughs.  If such breakthroughs were made, partnerships needed work at the country level.  Many had mentioned the Paris Declaration.  That meant making aid work with less conditionality, not more.  It should be clear that when talking about aid effectiveness, they were not talking about more conditions. 

The United States representative said his delegation had been supportive of the meeting and enthused to see the participation between civil society and governments.  The United States had a 60-year history of providing development assistance and would continue to do so.  Given time constraints, he would not be able to address all of the issues raised, as they deserved in-depth consideration.  The United States took seriously the conversation and points raised regarding trade, development assistance and other issues.

The Rapporteur, ESTER AGUILERA of the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba, summarized the discussion, noting that the main themes included trade, debt, ODA, the concept of development and the relationship between the United Nations and multilateral organizations.  With regard to trade, the automatic relationship between the opening of trade and economic growth and development had been questioned.  The need to eliminate dumping and anti-dumping practices had also been mentioned.  Speakers had also stressed the need to comply with the commitments assumed at the Doha round linking trade and development.  Promises made 10 years ago to cancel debt had not been fulfilled.  Thirty-six years had passed since countries had committed to meeting ODA targets.  That anniversary could not be celebrated.  Speakers had also stressed the need to eliminate conditions on ODA.  Speakers had also urged the richer countries to fulfil their commitments in order to improve the quantity and effectiveness of aid.

Many had noted that social indicators had deteriorated in the 1990s, she said.  Unless the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals were attained, millions would continue to live in poverty.  Transnational globalization threatened development.  A new definition of development was needed.  The private sector had a role to play in terms of job creation and investments.  Reference had also been made to the role of young people and children.  

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For information media. Not an official record.