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History of WANGO: 2003
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WANGO began the year 2003 sponsoring a conference held in cooperation with the Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO) and the Tanzania Relief and Friendship Foundation (TRFF) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on January 23, 2003, under the theme "Culture of Responsibility and the Role of NGOs in the 21st Century." The conference, planned with the goal to assist in opening communication between the Tanzanian government and the NGOs, gathered 124 participants from 80 NGOs, plus media, government and academia, for insightful plenary sessions and workshops topics including networking and coalition building, collaborating with media, applying for grants and developing follow-up activities and programs.

Among the esteemed speakers at the conference were Mr. B. Owden Kasongwa, an economist and assistant director for the NGO department under the Vice President's office; Mrs. Mary J. Mwingira, the Executive Director of TANGO; and Dr. Massimo Trombin, international field director of the International Relief and Friendship Foundation (IRFF) and the regional coordinator of WANGO Europe. Mr. Zaa Twalangeti of the Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO) and Mrs. Ananilea Nkya of the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) stimulated much discussion in their workshops.

Dr. Frederick Swarts, WANGO’s Assistant Secretary General, chaired a Roundtable of approximately thirty leaders of NGOs and other leaders gathered to discuss of the role of the non-governmental community in advancing peace in the Middle East during the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace Conference held February 27-March 2, 2003, in Washington D.C. The spirit of the Roundtable was that of harmony and genuine concern that substantial steps be taken soon to address the problems in the Middle East. Leaders from the Middle East and from other nations of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas were represented at the conference.

In June 2003, the published proceedings of the WANGO Annual Conference 2002, entitled Culture of Responsibility and the Role of NGOs, was released. Many of the papers and presentations in the conference collection address the theme of NGOs and responsibility, while others deal specifically with how the NGO community impacts issues of the human experience. The book offers a unique perspective into the accomplishments and constraints of the non-governmental community, and recent trends in global non-governmentalism (Publications).

From June 21-23, 2003, WANGO Secretary General, Mr. Taj Hamad, was among the more than 1,200 leaders representing all areas of government, business and civil society, including many NGOs, from 65 nations participating in the World Economic Forum's Extraordinary Annual Meeting in Jordan. Under the theme of "Visions for a Shared Future," the conference focused on three main issues: Iraq, business and economy, and the future of the Middle East. The Forum, held under the patronage of His majesty King Abdullah II, gathered prominent and distinguished leaders, half of which came from the Middle East area, included UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and US Secretary of Defense, Colin Powell. Founder and President Professor Klaus Schwab, referred to the conference as a 'Global Reconciliation Summit.’ H.R.H. Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, emphasized the importance of forgiveness being the point when reconciliation begins. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, The World Economic Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

In June 2003, NGO leaders from all regions of Ghana met for a WANGO-sponsored one-day seminar in Accra, Ghana, convened on the theme "Toward a Culture of Responsibility and the Role of NGOs.” Addressing the NGO leaders were Mrs. Edu-Degart, Executive Director of Interlove International and a proposed member of the WANGO Ghana Board of Directors; Mr. E.C. Odoi, Director, Finance and Administration of the Ghana Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, as the keynote speaker; Ms. Kathy Rigney, the International and Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) Senior Advisor for African Affairs and HIV/AIDs Project Director; WANGO National Representatives Mr. Mohammed B. Attah (Nigeria), and Mr. Charles Abbey (Ghana); Mrs. Anne Smart, regional coordinator of WANGO Africa. The keynote speaker, Mr. E.C. Odoi, from the Ministry of Manpower Development, the government agency where NGOs are registered, acknowledged the good work being done by NGOs towards national development; he urged civil society to uphold the qualities of dependability, transparency and responsibility.

From September 25-28, 2003, NGO leaders from around the world gathered for the WANGO Annual Conference 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand. With the theme, "Toward an Ethical and Caring Global Community," the Annual Conference, held for the first time in Asia, drew representatives of 147 NGOs of all sizes and fields, representing 50 nations, for a total of 260 participants. The opening day was held at the United Nations Conference Center (UNCC) in Bangkok where UN representatives and Thai officials also attended the opening day plenary sessions and workshops, as well as an interactive session, "Fostering Greater Cooperation Between Governments and NGOs.”

The Amari Watergate Hotel in downtown Bangkok was the venue for the remainder of the conference with a variety of formats including plenary sessions, training workshops, special symposia, interactive sessions, panel sessions, and a roundtable on an "NGO Code of Ethics," led by Mr. William D. Lay, Director of the WANGO NGO Code of Ethics Initiative. The Annual Business Meeting of the WANGO membership was held at the Annual Conference, where the WANGO Ghana Chapter was officially recognized. The participants also had numerous opportunities to network during the conference and for local sightseeing.

The annual conference provided the forum for the NGO leaders to hear and interact with diverse international experts and published speakers, including Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan, Chairperson of Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, National Institute for Development Administration, and Secretary General of Transparency, Thailand, Thai Senator Mechai Varavaidya, and Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman, International Council, WANGO, on the topic of "NGOs as Advocates and Agents for an Ethical and Caring Society"; Mr. Francois Fouinat, Executive Director of the Commission on Human Security, Mr. Dana Dillon, Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Sarah Michael, Research Fellow at the Global Equity Initiative of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government on the topic “Human Society and the Role of NGOs”; Dr. Alan Fowler, President of the International Society for Third Sector Research and author of Striking a Balance, Mr. Robert Dobias, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Dr. Tunku Abdul Aziz, Vice Chairman of Transparency International, on the topic "NGOs & Ethics: Toward an Ethical Culture in the Governmental, Corporate, and Civil Society Sectors." (WANGO Conference 2003).

Five Resolutions were drafted as the outcome of the WANGO Annual Conference 2003 proceedings and were approved by the WANGO members present. The Resolutions include: Resolution Toward an Ethical and Caring Global Community; Resolution Symposium A: Trafficking in Women and Children in Asia; Resolution Symposium B: Toward an Inter-religious Council at the United Nations; Resolution Symposium C: Microcredit and NGOs; Resolution Symposium D: Humanitarian Efforts and NGOs. (Resolutions)

A highlight of the WANGO Annual Conference 2003 was the presentation of the WANGO Award to three outstanding NGOs. The WANGO Environmental Award was presented to the Green Belt Movement (GBM) of Kenya, the WANGO Peace & Security Award to Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP), and the WANGO Human Rights Award to the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

On December 2, 2003, the 2003 WANGO Universal Peace Award, WANGO's highest award to individuals, was presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Thailand, in a private audience in Bangkok, Thailand, by Mr. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of WANGO. (WANGO Universal Peace Award 2003)