Letter from the International Executive Director, Taj Hamad
It is with heavy heart that the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations announces the postponement of its scheduled international conference "The Role of NGOs in Creating a World Fit for Children: Building Strategic Partnerships in Response to the 2001 United Nations Special Session on Children, originally scheduled for October 19-21, 2001 in New York City. This decision comes as a result of the United Nations postponing the UN Special Session on Children, which was to have taken place September 19-21, 2001.
These gatherings are postponed due to the horrendous events that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. However, this necessary action does not mean that WANGO's commitment to the issue of children and to the goal of uniting NGOs in this cause will be weakened. Rather, we take renewed resolve given the heightened recognition that children are our future, and by investing in them we can create a stronger, healthier world.
With our office being located in New York City, we witnessed first-hand the awful circumstances of the terrorist attacks on the World Trace Center. Although our WANGO staff was spared, we know some who have been killed and we have spent a great many sleepless nights agonizing over this tragedy, as have so many people. Please allow me to share with you the following personal perspective on this event.
First, this attack makes it evident that terrorism is a world-level problem. Citizens of more than 80 nations are either dead or presumed dead as a result of the hijackings of the four airplanes and the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Citizens of additional nations are injured or barely escaped. This is not the time for a nationalistic response. It is important that nations, institutions, NGOs, and individuals worldwide join together in ending terrorism and the root causes of terrorism, and that any effort be done for the sake of the world community.
Secondly, this tragedy is an opportunity, a wake-up call. It is important that this attack not cause a hardening of the heart, but rather a profound humility and deeper love. Ultimately, actions need to be done out of love and for love, not revenge. From the ashes of the destruction, we must make a renewed determination to uphold the higher ideals.
Thirdly, the problem is terrorism and terrorists, which goes beyond the borders of any one nation, religion, race, or culture. As with governments, intergovernmental bodies, and international organizations all over the world, WANGO seeks an end to terrorism. Just as one can consider a War on Poverty, War on Drugs, or War on Crime, then a War on Terrorism can be conceived. But war on a nation state, with the loss of innocent lives, needs to be avoided. Human rights must not be violated. And, especially in this case, it is vital that efforts to find the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks not lead to a religious or racial war. It is critically important at this time for individuals to unite together and treat each other as true brothers and sisters, across barriers of nationality, religion, culture, and race.
Fourthly, these actions of terrorism call for a new type of solution and a comprehensive approach, dealing not only with legal justice and international cooperation, but also with underlying root issues. These issues include injustice, widespread poverty, the widening gap between rich and poor, the technology gap, the north-south dichotomy, and many other issues that create fertile ground for resentments and hopelessness. In this arena, many NGOs can be particularly effective.
We appreciate your support of WANGO. Although the postponement of the UN Special Session has necessitated the postponement of this particular WANGO conference, our mission goes on. WANGO remains committed more than ever to serving our member organizations and in providing the mechanism and support needed for NGOs to connect, partner, share, inspire and multiply their contributions to solve humanity's basic problems. We will continue to work to unite NGOs worldwide in the cause of advancing world peace, as well as well-being at all levels - individual, family, tribal, national, and world.
Thank you for your understanding.
My sincere best wishes,
International Executive Director