A Response from Civil Society

Executive Summary
> Opening Statements
Reviewing the Millennium Declaration
NGOs as Partners in Debt Relief and Financing for Development
NGOs as Partners in Values and Public Service
NGOs as Partners in Strengthening the Family
Building Cultures of Peace and Leadership
Discussion Groups
Closing Statements

 
 
Opening Statements
 
At the opening of the conference, Dr. Neil Albert Salonen, Secretary General of the IIFWP, welcomed the participants. He observed that many of the problems of our world transcend the traditional political questions with which the United Nations has traditionally dealt--oftentimes, they become questions involving an entire region or the globe. Often the roots of conflict can be found in culture or religion rather than nationality. Thus, only a broader discussion and examination of a question that can bring about certain solutions. "The IIFWP vision," he said, "is to create one network where members of the religious community can come together and give their advice to members of the political community with an eye toward broadening and transcending some of the solutions that have been limited by political questions in the past." The IIFWP has proposed a broader construction of the U.N. system so that there would be a formal way for world religious leaders to provide advice to the world political community. Dr. Salonen urged the NGO community represented in the conference to act in order to make a difference in the world: "if we do that.it will be a catalyst because I believe the time is right," he said.
 
Mr. Taj Hamad, Executive Director of WANGO, reminded NGO representatives of the significance of Habitat II, held in Istanbul in 1996, which was a landmark meeting for NGOs who were called to attend as full U.N. partners. Similarly, this conference is also a watershed for NGOs because it represents the inauguration of the first global association of NGOs. He observed that the Millennium Declaration made many promises to the next generation, and it is our responsibility to keep them; NGOs must work harder than before. He asked participants: What do you want to do with this Declaration? How can WANGO help you achieve what you want to do? How can we enhance NGO interrelationships, U.N.-NGO relations, and NGO-state relations? It is up to NGOs to seize the moment, he concluded.
 
Each of the Co-Chairs made preliminary remarks that set the tone for the deliberations. H.E. Dr. Makarim Wibisono observed that it is essential to examine and respond to the Millennium Declaration, the magnum opus of the world community through the United Nations, so that it contributes to the "creation of the worthiest world for us to live in." He said the eight categories of issues dealt with in the Declaration are the dominant challenges facing the world community in the 21st century. He stressed that the United Nations Charter epitomizes the intrinsic values and fundamental principles of international relations; its overarching goal is the enhancement of the human condition and the provision of human security. The Charter mandates that the United Nations create stability and well being to promote socio-economic progress. Today, he said, the challenge for governments and civil society is "how to collectively fashion an effective system of global governance to manage the massive changes transforming the shape and substance of international relations at the onset of the millennium." Thus, in this context, the role of civil society, he noted, as partner of governments and the United Nations, cannot be over-emphasized, particularly in the follow-up of recommendations adopted by the Millennium Summit. Future global decisions will not only be decided by government representatives, but by representatives of global NGOs.
 
Co-Chair Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, speaking from the perspective of the IIFWP, said that the world cannot achieve lasting peace without a greater partnership and cooperation between governments, civil society and the world's religions. Secondly, he stressed that the family as the foundation for world peace must be strengthened as it has profound social, moral and global significance. He then mentioned the three proposals made at Assembly 2000 at the United Nations by IIFWP Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon: to establish a council of religious leaders within the structure of the United Nations; to establish peace zones under U.N. jurisdiction between the borders of nations in conflict; and, to establish a day of international appreciation for the family. Dr. Kwak noted that the IIFWP proposed at Assembly 2000 the development of an international educational program that emphasizes:

  1. The importance of character education
  2. The profound social significance of the family
  3. The value of interreligious and international harmony and cooperation
  4. The need for a close cooperative relationship between NGOs and the United Nations and
  5. The need to cultivate a universal attitude of living for the sake of others and build a team of global peace volunteers who embody these ideals

In particular, he said that NGOs and civil institutions should act according to the highest moral standards and ethical norms, and avoid becoming too narrowly focused or self-interested; special interests should never cause us to overlook universal interests. Finally, he asserted that the "world is on the threshold of a great new moment, one in which the history of suffering, injustice and selfishness.can be transformed." This change will come through a change in culture or consciousness, which will also have the capability of providing practical solutions to global problems.
 
Co-Chair Dr. Wally N'Dow termed WANGO a new house for civil society and NGOs. In particular, he applauded its inclusion of the religious and spiritual dimension - one that addresses human solidarity and the need for civilizational change. He noted that the rise of NGOs has been described as a power shift away from the government as the only authority over the human future, and to the non-state sector in the lives of people the world over. Dr. N'Dow said it was a watershed moment in the history of the United Nations when the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders convened inside the U.N. Headquarters in late August. It was a "fundamental acknowledgement that it is not enough to view the world mainly as a political arena for contest and competition, but it is more important as we move into the 21st century that we work for all or work for none, to bring the spiritual dimension into full focus." He said NGOs are teaching there is another kind of globalization, that counters or mitigates the negative effects of economic globalization: the globalization of the human spirit, of faith, a globalization from below, mediated by love and understanding by the non-governmental sector of humanity. Dr. N'Dow spoke of several ideas that should govern the partnership between NGOs and governments:
  1. Global partnership as a way of reaching out across the boundaries of community, race and nationality
  2. Enablement so that partners can act properly and with energy
  3. Information technology as the backbone of NGO collaboration and
  4. Leadership training as a foremost task of NGOs

He contended that human security must no longer be seen in terms of how to protect national territory with military power, but in terms of educational, health, nutritional and other basic needs being met. He said NGOs are more than ever involved in a new humanitarianism of both conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. Regarding economic globalization, he asserted that the world must not be viewed as a journey for trade and commerce, with life driven by market forces, but as the unfolding of a divine drama, where others' problems are one's own concern.
 
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