8 September 2000


8 September 2000

Press Briefing



The largest-ever gathering of world leaders committed themselves to a world where future generations would not suffer as had those of the past, correspondents were told at a press conference this evening, following the closing session of the Millennium Summit held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The unprecedented participation of heads of State and government, leaders from non-governmental organizations’ and United Nations system bodies in the three-day Summit illustrated that the whole world had faith, confidence and trust in the United Nations, emphasized co-Chair Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia. The summit was jointly chaired by President Nujoma and President Tarja Halonen of Finland.

The Summit was characterized by a new spirit, and direct discussions in the cause of peace and a better world for all, according to the two co-Chairs. That new spirit had also found expression in broad support for making the world Organization more representative, and increasing its contacts with civil society.

There was universal agreement that the United Nations should better reflect the world, and increase its contacts with civil society, President Halonen said. The round table discussions between world leaders that took place over the past three days had seemed like a “liberation movement for world leaders”, in that the participants had eagerly welcomed the chance to engage in direct discussions with each other.

At the same time, the Summit’s success added pressure to the fifty-fifth General Assembly, which would now be charged with maintaining political will, and developing concrete means for implementing agreements, she added.

The dramatic increase in Member States must be reflected in a more representative United Nations, and particularly a more representative Security Council, President Nujoma explained. Despite its vast population and extraordinary resources, Africa had no permanent representation on the Council, while Europe had two. India’s population would reach 1 billion this year, but Asia had only one permanent representative. Latin America had no permanent representation at all. During the Security Council Summit, all participants -– heads of State and government members of the Council -- had agreed on the need to it.

What must be done, and how it must be done, were clear; the key element was the political will, President Halonen said. This will had now been revitalized, and she hoped it would continue to be in evidence in the Assembly, and when leaders returned to their home countries.

A correspondent asked about proposals to make the United Nations more democratic by including civil society representatives in a “second house in the world parliament”.

Co-Chairs Press Conference - 2 - 8 September 2000

President Halonen said that many speakers had stressed that the United Nations must have broader contact with the outside world. While the Organization was first and foremost a collective body of governments, there had been a clear recognition of the importance of increasing contacts with business, academics and non-governmental organizations, and including them in the process. How this should be done was the subject of different views, she continued. Some countries, such as her own, included non-governmental organizations’ representatives in their delegations. Different proposals must be considered.

During the meeting of women heads of State and government, participants had agreed to hold similar meetings at different international gatherings, in order to draw more attention to gender-related issues, President Halonen explained. Similar initiatives might be considered by those interested in the environment or other issues, she added. However, there was now universal acceptance of the fact that women must be central players in efforts to create peace and end poverty.

Asked to evaluate the Summit’s achievements, President Halonen said she expected that globalization would now be the subject of more pragmatic discussions. She also drew attention to proposals regarding United Nations peacekeeping, and said that while further discussion was required on some matters, parts of the recent report on United Nations peace operations should be made concrete within a clear timeframe.

All the heads of State and government seemed to have adopted a new spirit towards Africa, President Nujoma said. If this continued, he foresaw a bright future for Africa in the twenty-first century.

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For information media. Not an official record.