8 September 2000


8 September 2000

Press Briefing



"This is the last day of the United Nations Millennium Summit and history really has been made here", the Spokeswoman for the Co-Chairs of the Millennium Summit, Therese Gastaut, told correspondents at today's noon briefing. Quoting a joint statement by the Summit Co-Chairs -- Finland's President, Tarja Halonen and Namibia's President, Sam Nujoma –- Ms. Gastaut added that "the largest gathering of world leaders ever has used the Summit to articulate a vision for a new century, as well as stressed the vital role the United Nations must play in helping to fulfil the aspirations of people everywhere".

Continuing quoting the remarks of the Co-Chairs, Ms. Gastaut said:

"Both in their speeches in the plenaries of the Summit and in the interactive round tables, the heads of State and government again and again stressed the relevance and the importance of the United Nations in a global society. They pledged their commitment to helping the United Nations adapt to the new era and strengthen its capacity to deal with the challenges of maintaining peace and eliminating poverty.

"The Co-Chairs praise the cordial, frank and constructive statements by all the world leaders both in the plenaries and the round tables and call on all of them to ensure that the commitments made in the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations are implemented.

"They also praise the Secretary-General for the leadership he is providing to the Organization and thank him for his outstanding Millennium Report entitled ‘We the Peoples’.

"The Co-Chairs hope for a unanimous adoption of the Millennium Declaration this afternoon to give a new momentum to the United Nations."

Asked if this was the first time the Organization's heads of State had developed a plan of action, Ms. Gastaut said that indeed this was the first gathering of heads of State that could be considered a "working Summit". Heads of government had participated in a United Nations summit in 1995, but that had been more ceremonial in nature, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Organization.

Ms. Gastaut then drew correspondents’ attention to yesterday's historical meeting of the Security Council. Meeting at the level of heads of State and heads of government for the first time since 1992, the Council adopted a declaration on ensuring an effective Council role in the maintenance of international peace and security, particularly in Africa.

Turning to today's events, Ms. Gastaut said that a total of 65 speakers were expected to address the plenary. That number included 25 heads of State and 12 heads of government. She pointed out that the final two speakers today would be from civil society, which had played such an important role in forging support for the Summit's goals. Those speakers would be Najma Heptula, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, speaking on behalf of the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, and Techeste Ahderom, the Co-Chair of the Millennium Forum.

Gastaut Briefing - 2 - 8 September 2000

Regarding the series of round tables that had been organized to run simultaneously with the Millennium Summit, Ms. Gastaut said yesterday morning, 34 world leaders had participated in the second round table. She noted that, at his press conference, the President of Poland, who chaired that meeting, had said that the challenge thought to loom largest for the international community was the situation of Africa. Poland's President added that Africa should not be seen as a problem but as a responsibility.

Ms. Gastaut went on to say that 42 countries were represented at the round table yesterday afternoon, that had been chaired by President Chavez of Venezuela. The President had reported that the participating leaders had reached a consensus on the need for transforming the United Nations. She added that the President had also reported that one of the participants had said: "We cannot continue to navigate the twenty-first century with a map from 1945".

Continuing, Ms. Gastaut stated that, like the chairs of the other round tables, President Chavez was enthusiastic about the spontaneity the round-table format allowed. The leaders had all noted the advantages of bringing together heads of State and government from all parts of the world, and not just meeting in regional groups as was usually the case. Several participants also discussed repeating this exercise more often than just once in a millennium. Ms. Gastaut said that the final round table, Chaired by President Bouteflika of Algeria, took place this morning. That meeting would be followed by a press conference at 1:15 p.m.

Turning to other events, Ms. Gastaut said that the first-ever meeting of the officers of the Economic and Social Council at the level of heads of State took place at 8 a.m. today at the United Nations Plaza Hotel. The Economic and Social Council Summit was chaired by President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia and focused on the role of information technology for development. The other Council officers in attendance were the Presidents of Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Costa Rica. Ms. Gastaut added that the Secretary-General also participated.

Another unprecedented aspect of the Millennium Summit had been the commitment of world leaders to the rule of law as demonstrated by treaty-signing ceremonies, said Ms. Gastaut, noting that 85 countries had participated in treaty ceremonies. As of this morning, the treaty that had attracted the most signatures and ratifications had been the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which deals with the involvement of children in armed conflict. There had been 51 treaty actions to that Protocol.

She said that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, dealing with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, had received 48 actions. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had received 28 actions. Although the final total was still being tabulated, 230 to 300 treaty actions were expected to take place before the conclusion of the Summit.

Ms. Gastaut also pointed to the many bilateral meetings during the Summit. There had been 185 scheduled bilaterals at United Nations Headquarters, as well as hundreds of others in this building, as well as around Manhattan.

Providing additional facts and figures, she said that at last count, 100 heads of State -- representatives from 99 Member States and the President of Switzerland -- and 47 heads of government had attended the Millennium Summit.

That brought the total to 147 so far. In addition, three Crown Princes, two highest ranking officials, five Vice-Presidents and three Deputy Prime Ministers also attended the Summit. In total 8,000 delegates from 190 delegations had participated in the historic event. The Summit had been covered by 5,500 journalists.

Turning to this afternoon's closing ceremonies, Ms. Gastaut said that all speakers on today's list were expected to have finished their addresses by about 5:30 p.m. That would put the concluding meeting of the Summit at around 6 p.m.. First, the Chairpersons of the four round tables -- the Prime Minister of Singapore; the President of Poland; the President of Venezuela; and the President of Algeria -- would deliver their summaries. Next, the Millennium Declaration was expected to be adopted.

Then, delegations that wished to make reservations or interpretations would speak, Ms. Gastaut continued. It was also likely that Chairpersons of the regional groups would make statements. The Secretary-General would deliver a closing address which would be followed by the closing statements of the Summit Co-Chairs.

Finally, she said that the Millennium Summit was expected to conclude between 7 and 8 p.m., and would be immedetely followed by the press conference of the Co-Chairs of the Millenneum Summit, to be held in Conference Room 2.

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For information media. Not an official record.