Executive Summary

by

Frederick A. Swarts, Ph.D.

Leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from throughout the world gathered from September 25 to September 28 in Bangkok, Thailand for WANGO Annual Conference 2003. Convened on the theme Toward an Ethical and Caring Global Community, the conference attendees addressed issues of fundamental import for the worldwide NGO community.

The Annual Conference serves as the flagship event for the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO). The 2003 Annual Conference, which was held for the first time in Asia, drew participants from Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Central America, the Conference Registration PacketCaribbean, and South America. In all, 147 NGOs from 50 nations sent representatives. Most NGO participants served as the chief executive officers of their organization (with 100 serving with the title of President, Executive Director, Secretary General, Chairman of the Board, or Founder). Also in attendance were governmental and intergovernmental officials and corporate officers. In all, a total of 230 attendees (267 including staff and spouses) gathered for WANGO Annual Conference 2003.

The NGOs represented at WANGO Annual Conference 2003 spanned the spectrum of the non-governmental community, from small, local NGOs to major international bodies, and encompassed the diversity of human activity, from humanitarian NGOs, to environmental NGOs, to those involved in education, health care, human rights, conflict prevention, and development activities. 

The opening day of the Annual Conference was held at the United Nations Conference Center (UNCC) in Bangkok. A major regional center for the United Nations System, Bangkok has sometimes been called the Geneva of Asia, Plenary 1: United Nations Conference Center and is home to a diverse UN Community, with numerous agencies and diplomatic missions. Events taking place at the UNCC included the Opening Plenary Session, Plenary Session Two, the Interactive Sessions (Fostering Greater Cooperation Between Governments and NGOs), and various workshops. Joining these programs were UN representatives from various nations, as well as Thai government officials. The Women's Federation for World Peace, Thailand (WFWP) served as a co-sponsor for the program at the UNCC. The main conference venue, where the other conference sessions were held, was the Amari Watergate Hotel, also in downtown Bangkok.

The 2003 Annual Conference involved a wide diversity of session formats, including 4 plenary sessions, 10 training workshops, 4 special symposia, 5 interactive sessions, 6 panel sessions, and a roundtable on an “NGO Code of Ethics,” as well as various opportunities to network at regional meetings, meal functions, dessert mixers, and field trips to Bangkok cultural and historical sites. A number of organizations used the conference venue to set up exhibits. The Annual Conference was also the setting for the Annual Business Meeting of the membership, as well as the 2003 WANGO Awards Banquet, in which NGOs were recognized for their spirit of service and effectiveness in addressing societal ills. Overall, the program included 53 invited speakers, as well as leaders of 43 member organizations who utilized the panel sessions to present on their NGOs or a topic of interest to them.

Plenary Sessions

The four Plenary Sessions dealt with general themes related to ethics and human security.

The Opening Plenary was convened on the theme NGOs as Advocates and Agents for an Ethical and Caring Society. There is Plenary Session One growing recognition of a global revolution that is impacting all parts of society: human rights, education, politics, the environment, business, and even the war on terrorism. This sweeping change is the NGO revolution – the dramatic increase in the numbers, importance, and diversity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs now impact policies, deliver services, guide agendas and advance initiatives that once were nearly exclusively the arena of governments and corporations. Indeed, in many cases, NGOs have proven more adept than government in responding to particular needs. 

The non-governmental sector serves as key advocates and agents for bringing about an ethical and caring society. NGOs impact how multinational corporations do business and how governments, large and small, conduct their affairs. NGOs are impacting education in small villages in Brazil and environmental affairs in the Artic. They are involved in AIDS education in Uganda and the passing of international treaties on landmines. In Bangladesh, where 5,000 NGOs are involved with literacy programs, children are more likely to learn to read with the assistance of an NGO than through a state organization. In Kenya, over half of the health care services are provided by NGOs, and in Zimbabwe in 1997 and 1998, NGOs supplied the emergency drought relief services that the government was unable to provide.   Worldwide, NGOs now deliver more development assistance than the entire U.N. system (excluding the World Bank and the IMF). Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak at Opening Plenary

The Opening Plenary Session explored in general the critical role of NGOs in current society, with emphasis on their role as advocates and agents of a more ethical, just, and caring society.  It also dealt with general issues related to NGOs, including the accomplishments and constraints of the non-governmental community and recent trends in global non-governmentalism.

Speakers at this session included Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan (Chairperson, Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, National Institute for Development Administration; Secretary General for Transparency International) and the Honorable Mechai Varavaidya (Member of the Senate of Thailand’s Parliament –the National Assembly of Thailand; Founder and Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association). The Keynote Address was provided by Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of WANGO’s International Council.

Plenary Session Two was convened on the theme, Human Security and the Role of NGOs. The concept of human security Plenary Two Panel represents a new paradigm in understanding security and humanitarian requirements.  Traditional security paradigms have focused on the state as the referent of security, and mainly the state’s ability to counter external threats. In the human security conception, the individual is the primary referent of security. This people-centered approach broadens the focus from security of borders to the lives of people inside and across those borders. 

Human security is often characterized as dealing with two fundamental freedoms: “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want.”  That is, it involves freedom both from pervasive threats to people’s lives and safety, as well as threats to their economic and social well-being.  U.N. Deputy Secretary-General LouisePanel Session Two Frechette stated that human security means “all those things that men and women anywhere in the world cherish most: enough food for the family; adequate shelter; good health; schooling for the children; protection from violence whether inflicted by man or by nature; and a State which does not oppress its citizens but rules with their consent.” In essence, human security is concerned with both violent and non-violent threats: terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, torture, war casualties, violent crime, disease, deprivation (food, water, educational opportunities), slavery, use of child soldiers, and environmental degradation. A complement to state security, human security deals with protection of an individual’s human rights across borders and enhancing human development, in order that each person has the opportunity to fulfill his or her own potential.

NGOs, as vitally important non-state actors in the related fields of human development, human rights, and conflict prevention, have a crucial role to play in advancing, advocating, and implementing human security. Their flexibility, adaptability, closeness to local populations, willingness to address threats which others groups may overlook, and ability to build coalitions and work beyond borders are some of the traits which enhance their capability to advance human security. Through the use of persuasion (soft power), they can disseminate information and ideas and they can foster norms of conduct.Dana Dillon

This second plenary session examined the current and potential role NGOs play in human security, and the unique advantages they bring, and obstacles they face, in this arena.  This session also looked at the particular role that NGOs play in the current crisis of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and their role in addressing post-conflict situations.

The guest speakers who addressed this issue were Dr. Sarah Michael (Research Fellow, Global Equity Initiative, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), Francois Fouinat (Executive Director, Commission on Human Security), and Dana Dillon (Senior Policy Analyst, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation). Dr. Noel Brown, President of Friends of the United Nations, served as chair for the session.

Plenary Session Three was convened on the theme, Toward an Ethical Culture in the Governmental, Corporate and Civil Society Sectors.

Plenary Session ThreeHumankind is confronting extraordinary challenges. The world is experiencing fundamental crises in global politics, economic disparity, social issues, and environmental deterioration. Hundreds of millions of people suffer from poverty and hunger.  Corruption in politics and business is far too commonplace, and many people remain disenfranchised from the political process. Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction dominate headlines, as do health issues such as HIV/AIDS. Racial, ethnic and social conflicts, trafficking in women and children, drug abuse, human rights abuses, ecosystem collapse, and other issues stress our existence in this twenty-first century.

Centermost to making a more healthy, just and better functioning society is the fostering of a more ethical culture. NGOs share with the governmental and corporate realms a social responsibility to address the extraordinary challenges of our time and follow the highest ethical calling. 

The non-governmental sector plays an important dual role in this respect. On the one hand, NGOs help to foster such an ethical culture in the governmental and corporate worlds. Some NGOs, aided by their independence and willingness to challenge the status quo, do this via pointing out transgressions, such as human rights violations, government corruption, or corporate pollution and advocating various remedies. Some work hand in hand with governments, corporations, the media, and other NGOs in addressing the social, political and economic inequities. 

On the other hand, NGOs also have an internal responsibility to follow the highest code of ethical conduct in their own activities. NGOs have the responsibility to be transparent, honest, accountable, to give out accurate information, and to not manipulate situations for personal benefit. NGOs have the obligation to respect each person’s fundamental human rights. They must be careful not to misuseDr. Alan Fowler public money for selfish purpose and to treat all public assets with utmost seriousness as a sacred, public trust. NGOs have a responsibility to not align themselves with, or stand in opposition to, any particular government for purely selfish or shortsighted means, nor to become controlled by a governmental body.  In short, NGOs have the responsibility to dedicate themselves for the sake of others and do so according to the highest code of ethical conduct.

This session examined the role of NGOs in fostering an ethical culture in all sectors: governmental, corporate, and civil society. Chaired by William D. Lay, Director of WANGO’s NGO Code of Ethics Initiative, this session featured presentations by Dr. Alan Fowler (President, International Society for Third Sector Research and author of Striking a Balance), Robert John Dobias (NGO Administrator, NGO Center, Asian Development Bank), and Tunku Abdul Aziz (Vice Chairman, Transparency International; President, Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity). Dr. Fowler’s presentation included a discussion of unethical NGOs as depicted via acronyms such as BRINGO (Briefcase NGO), CONGO (Commercial NGOs), CRINGO (Criminal NGO), FANGO (Fake NGO), GANGO (Government NGO), and so forth.Zia Rizvi (right) and Dr. Thomas Ward (left)

Dr. Thomas J. Ward, Dean of the International College of the University of Bridgeport presented the Rapporteur’s Report at the Closing Plenary Session. Dr. Ward also agreed to serve as the editor of the conference proceedings. The Closing Plenary Session also featured the presentation of several resolutions, which were developed by Zia Rizvi, Director General of the Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues. These resolutions, which were developed on the basis of the conference sessions, were presented to those gathered for their general approval and were prepared for distribution the general WANGO membership for approval, prior to being released to the public.

 

Special Symposium

WANGO Annual Conference 2003 featured four special symposia.

The first special symposium, Trafficking in Women and Children in Asia, dealt with a problem of pressing international importance, and is an arena in which NGOs have helped to shed a lot of light and have as brought effective pressure on legislative, legal and law enforcement authorities.

 Trafficking in people, largely women and children, for forced labor and commercial sex is one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity. Trafficking in humans is now considered the third largest source of organized crime after drugs and arms.

In both scope and numbers, such trafficking in women and children has shown a dramatic global increase in recent years, in parallelSymposium on Trafficking in Women and Children in Asia with the process of globalization. In essence, this crime against humanity involves the illegal and immoral recruitment, transport, or sale of women and children for purposes of exploiting their labor. While numbers are difficult to obtain, the U.S. State Department estimates that a minimum of 700,000 people are trafficked each year, and that the number may exceed 2 million, with the vast majority of these victims being women and children.

In Southeast Asia, there has been observed not only an increase in the number of trafficked women and children, but also a decrease in the average age of the victims. A slavery-like process, trafficking may involve bonded sweatshop labor, forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced marriages, and so forth. Traffickers use such tactics as threats or use of physical force, deception, isolation, and/or debt bondage to control the women and children. UNICEF Deputy Director Kul Gautum describes the trafficking of women and children across Asia as “the largest slave trade in history.” He notes that in Asia and the Pacific alone, “more than 30 million children have been traded over the last three decades,” with victims usually being teenage girls.

This special symposium examined this crime against humanity, as experienced in Asia, and explored the role that NGOs play, and can play, in prevention efforts, providing assistance to the victims, and improving law enforcement and legal remedies.

Chaired by Sudarat Sereewat of Thailand (Director, Fight Against Child Exploitation; founding member, End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism), this session also included informative and heart wrenching presentations by Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji of India (Director Joint Women’s Programme, William Carey Study and Research Center), and Nop Saren Sreyroth of Cambodia (Monitoring Coordinator, Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre).

The second special symposia, Towards and Inter-religious Council at the United Nations, dealt with a new initiative to establish a special body at the United Nations. The events of September 11, 2001 highlighted the serious consequences of human discord and the need for a more comprehensive approach to our global challenges, whether terrorism or other “problems without passports.”  The United Nations, at 58 the longest surviving multi-national, multi-functional organization in history, represents a critically important hope for resolving such serious global challenges. Established by nation-states, it is now increasingly challenged with the task of policing conflicts that are not between nation-states, but rather between groups of people within states, as well as groups that transcend states.

Traditionally, issues of peace and security have been dealt with at the level of nation-states, via military, political, diplomatic and intelligence-gathering means. Yet, as September 11 also brought to the fore, religious and ethnic considerations are utmost issues to be considered in trying to navigate peace and security concerns, and offer a more comprehensive approach to serious global issues. Many conflicts have a religious root. Yet, religion and ethnicity frequently transcend national borders, unlike the nation-states that make up the United Nations. Furthermore, religions offer a new perspective on issues of fundamental important.  Contributions from this arena can offer a lot toward addressing current global crises.

Symposium on Inter-religious Council at the United NationsThis symposium dealt with one particular proposal to try to assist and complement the work of the United Nations through the formation of an inter-religious council. Spearheaded by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), such a council would tap the moral capabilities of religious leaders and people of conscience, in consultation with other components of civil society, in the search for solutions to critical global problems. This session explored the feasibility of such a council from the perspectives of NGOs.

Speakers at this second special symposia included Dr. Christopher Kim (Chairman, IIFWP, Asia),  Rt. Honorable Sir James R. Mancham (Founding President, Republic of Seychelles), Dr. Nicholas Kittrie (Chairman, Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace), and Imam Ameer Salahuddin (Co-Founder, Islamic Center of Passaic).

The third special symposia, Microcredits and NGOs, dealt with an issue that has gained increased prominence in recent years as a means for enabling poor people to start small businesses. In particular, many poor women have taken advantage of such programs. Microcredits are financial transactions in very small amounts, in other words, small loans to budding entrepreneurs among historically underserved and marginalized communities and social groups. Such loans have to be repaid, including any interest, thus requiring the need to engage in financial activities that can assure repayment. Microcredit programs have been credited with reaching some 20 million women around the world, allowing women who would not qualify for bank credits to receive loans.

NGOs can be involved in the microcredit industry in a variety of ways, including as intermediate institutions that facilitate the movement of capital from government bodies and local, national and international financial institutions to the targeted borrowers. This symposium examined the merits and challenges of microcredit programs and what roles NGOs can or should play in assisting the poor and disenfranchised via such means.

Dr. D. S. K. Rao (Asia Organizer, Microcredit Summit Campaign) and his wife, Shiela Rao (Technical Assistant, Office of RegionalDr. D. S. K. Rao Organiser for Asia, Microcredit Summit Campaign) addressed this session, which was chaired by Mr. Richard Zeif (United Nations Representative, International Federation of Training and Development Organizations).

The fourth special symposia, Humanitarian Efforts and NGOs, dealt with one well-established role of NGOs: providing humanitarian assistance to people who have been harmed by natural or man-made disasters, including as the result of conflict (such as victims of war or internal violence). Humanitarian aid may include providing such basic human needs as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care, as well as empowering them to better address their situation. Of course, at times aid can also be problematic, via creating dependency, or becoming a source of contention among parties in the afflicted area.

This session looked at the role of NGOs as providers of humanitarian aid. It also examined at NGO humanitarian relief activities in post-conflict situations, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cooperation with intergovernmental and governmental agencies in providing such relief.

Chaired by Mr. John Dickson (Co-Founder, World Trade Center Kabul; Vice President, Afghan Development and Reconstruction Group), speakers included Zia Rizvi (Director General, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues) and Ochoro E. Otunnu (Executive Director, Africa AIDS Iniative).

Workshops

Ten practical workshops were featured at WANGO Annual Conference 2003. While participant reflections on the conference in generalFundraising workshop were overwhelmingly positive, these 10 workshops were cited by many attendees as being particularly valuable.

Two workshops on Essential Fundraising Skills for NGOs workshop were conducted by Katherine P. Custodio (Director for Development, Business Development Unit, Venture for Fundraising, Philippines). This comprehensive presentation offered a fundraising overview and an examination of key fundraising pricnipels, and covered such areas as various sources of NGO income, the development of a strategic fundraising plan, and development of a winning grant proposal.

Rachel Peterson (who has 16 years of international development experience in Organizing an NGO Workshop training, facilitation, management, organizational development and human resource management) served as the trainer for a workshop on Organizing an NGO for More Effective Management and Staff. This workshop explored how NGO managers and directors can better plan for, recruit, hire and manage staff, so as to ensure that their organization is more competitive and efficient, and also examined how to move from a current crisis or reactive orientation to a more forward planning, strategic orientation.

William Lester (Chief Technology Officer, NinthBridge) offered two workshops dealing with technology. One was Utilizing the New Technologies for Non-Profits and examinedUtilizing Technologies Workshop some of the tools of technology and new media that have transformed nonprofit organization and looked at the process of integrating these tools into a culture that has traditionally been used to “making do.” It showed NGOs how to take advantage of the wealth of new technologies available and how to effectively determine and prioritize their technology needs. The workshop’s focus on low resource environments, where electricity and telephones can be a challenge, and where Internet connectivity can be expensive and/or unreliable, was a plus for many attendees. The second workshop offered by William Lester was The Art of Establishing Working Partnerships Among NGOs. This workshop included a review of experiences with NGO partnerships and collaborations, examined models for organizational collaboration, discussed principles for effective partnerships, and examined perspectives on how to balance the need to be a good collaborator with the need to strategic in one’s own organizational plans.

David Winder (Director of Country Programs, Synergos Institute) served as the trainer for a workshop titled Working for Sustainability for NGOs.  At Synergos, David Winder has developed a foundation-building program that provides services such as technical assistance to grantmaking foundations, associations of foundations, and philanthropy support centers in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa. He also manages a research program on grantmaking foundations, and worked as the Ford Foundation representative in Southeast Asia, Mexico and Central America. In this workshop, strategies were explored for strengthening NGO sustainability, fundraising and endowment capacity, including sources of funding, key fundraising principles, key skills and capacities needed for successful fundraising, definition of sustainability, and tools for sustainability.

Dr. Merri Minuskin (Head, Middle East Division, International Institute) coordinated the workshop on Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution. The first part of this workshop dealt with defining reconciliation and conflict resolution and distinguishing one from the other. The second part of the workshop moved from theory to practice, including presentation of inspiring realities of peace building on the ground in the Middle East despite the on-going conflict.

J'Lien Liese Workshop

J’Lein Liese (Founder, Foundation for Global Leadership) provide two useful workshops. The workshop Consensus-based Facilitation Skills for Working in Diverse Communities dealt with processes used in 39 countries since 1955 for working with diverse community groups, and especially for working in rural areas where lack of literacy or language issues make facilitation challenging. Participants received an overview on how the methods work and walked away with at least one of the methods to be able to use within Dr. Pandita and Richard Zeif their work immediately. The second workshop, Rehabilitating Emotionally Impoverished and Traumatized Youth, focused on proven, effective strategies for working with young offenders, street children, gangs, and former child soldiers.

 Dr. Kashinath Pandita (General Secretary, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum) was assisted by Mr. Richard Zeif (United Nations Representative, International Federation of Training and Development Organizations) in providing information on the Accreditation Process for NGOs with ECOSOC and DPI of the United Nations. This session examined the various ways in which NGOs partner with the Untied Nations, with emphasis on the accreditation process for attaining consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and establishing an association with the U.N. Department of Public Information.

Awards Banquet

The 2003 WANGO Awards Banquet, held on the evening of September 27 in the Amari Watergate Ballroom, was one of the highlights of the Annual Conference. Three awards were given to NGOs selected by the Awards Committee for their outstanding service and exceptional contributions to society, in many cases against significant obstacles.

WANGO Awards

The 2003 WANGO Environment Award was presented to the Green Belt Movement (GBM). Founded in 1977 by Dr. Wangari Maathai and the National Council of Women of Kenya, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) has become one of the world’s most successful programs to combine environmental protection and community development. From its humble beginning as a small tree nursery in Dr. Maathai’s own back yard, the GBM has grown into a force of more than 150,000 Kenyans, 6,000 women’s groups and 5,000 grassroots nurseries. More than one million volunteers have been involved since the program’s inception, mostly youth, and over 20 million trees have been planted on farms, school property, church compounds, and other public and private sites. Enviroment Awards: Green Belt Movement

The GBM was created out of the vision of Dr. Wangari Maathai, who is internationally renowned for her persistent work for democracy, human rights and environmental issues. In taking the decision to present the Green Belt Movement with the WANGO Environment Award 2003, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of the Green Belt Movement and Dr. Wangari Maathai to the values of sustainability and the protection of the natural environment, in spite of serious obstacles and even physical assault. The GBM has become a worldwide symbol of what can be accomplished by committed individuals with a vision. The promotion of peace trees – tree planting as a method of conflict resolution within and between communities – is a particularly inspiring initiative. The GBM is an exemplar of the “Think Globally – Act Locally” approach to systematic change, and of a holistic approach to saving the earth acre-by-acre, village-by-village, person-by-person.

The 2003 WANGO Environment Award was received by Wanjira Maathai, daughter of Dr. Maathai and the GBM’s International Liaison.

The 2003 WANGO Peace & Security Award was presented to Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP).

2003 Peace & Security Award: WISCOMPWISCOMP is a unique, timely, and important initiative for enhancing the participation and professional efficacy of women in conflict resolution, peace building, and international relations. Established by The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and reflecting the vision and unwavering support of The Dalai Lama, WISCOMP has grown to become one of the premier bodies for promoting the national, regional, and global leadership of Asian women in the areas of peace, security, and regional cooperation. The Foundation for Universal Responsibility was established with the Nobel Peace Prize award money given to the Dalai Lama.

With its large, committed, and effective network drawn from academia, the media, government, and NGOs, WISCOMP works to ensure that the unique resources, skills, and perspectives that women can bring to peace building are adequately recognized and encouraged, and provides the context for the development of their expertise and skills for non-violent engagement and conflict negotiation. From their current position of “invisibility” in security and international affairs, women are supported to become not only more visible but to increase their participation and form networks, so that their role in multi-track diplomacy processes in the South Asian region is strengthened.

In taking the decision to present WISCOMP with the Peace and Security 2003 Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with WISCOMP’s commitment to carving out a meaningful space for women in conflict resolution and its accomplishments in advancing the leadership of Asian women in the areas of peace and security. WISCOMP is a timely initiative, which accords closely with a recent decision of the United Nations Security Council to involve more women in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. WANGO is especially pleased by their regional vision, particularly since the South Asia region holds many potential sources of conflict. The WANGO Award should both empower and encourage such important initiatives for the future of our planet.

The WANGO Peace & Security Award was received by Manjrika Sewak, who is Program Director of WISCOMP.

The 2003 WANGO Human Rights Award was presented to the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Founded in 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is the third oldest and 2003 Human Rights Award: CORE one of the “Big Four” civil rights groups in the United States. CORE played a fundamental role in so many critical milestones in the U.S. civil rights movement that its history is a large part of the story of the civil rights movement. From the protests against “Jim Crow” laws of the 1940’s to the “Sit-ins” of the 1950’s and the “Freedom Rides” of the 1960’s; through the cries for “Self-Determination” in the 1970’s and “Equal Opportunity” in the 1980’s to the struggle for community development in the 1990’s, CORE has championed human rights and true equality for all people. As the “shock troops” and pioneers of the civil rights movement, CORE often has paved the way for the nation to follow.

Founded by an interracial group of students who were deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolent resistance, CORE pioneered the strategy of nonviolent direct action, especially the tactics of sit-ins, jail-ins, and freedom rides. Under the leadership of Roy Innis, who became the organization’s third National Director in 1968, CORE reached a new level, and has become a supporter of black economic development and community self-determination. With the banner of “truth, logic and courage,” CORE continues to promote harmony and healing in all aspects of society, calling the shots straight, even when it hurts.

In taking the decision to present CORE with its 2003 Human Rights Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of CORE and the Honorable Roy Innis to the highest values of true equality for all people.  CORE’s more than 60 years of service to promoting harmony and healing, as well as advancing nonviolent solutions, is especially admirable and a good example for the rest of the world. WANGO admires CORE’s dedication to the belief that “all people are created equal” and willingness to work toward the ultimate goal of true equality throughout the world.  Its goal of establishing the “inalienable right for all people to determine their own destiny – to decide for themselves what social and political organizations can operate in their best interest and to do so without gratuitous and inhibiting influence from those whose interest is diametrically opposed to theirs” – is a noble goal that needs to be supported. Its long record of finding solutions to the most difficult problems facing minorities, bringing about non-violent social, political and economic change for the underprivileged, and standing boldly and steadfastly in combating those who would keep us apart makes CORE one of the great human rights organizations of our time.

CORE has brought credit to the United States and encouragement and support to other parts of the world. During this the Decade for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World, it is especially fitting that CORE’s voice be recognized and awarded.

The 2003 WANGO Human Rights Award was received by CORE’s National Director, Mr. Roy Innis.

2003 WANGO Awards to NGOs

Other Sessions and Events

William D. Lay coordinated a very popular roundtable on the theme of Establishing a Code of Ethics for NGOs. William Lay serves Ethics Roundtable as Director of the WANGO NGO Code of Ethics Initiative, designed to develop standards for NGOs worldwide. Numerous NGO leaders attended this roundtable, and contributed toward the development of the code, with many agreeing to continuing discussions on this initiative.

Two special addresses were offered during the course of the conference. Dr. Pradit offered a welcoming address for the participants. Dr. Pradit Chareonthaitawee, Vice President for the Foundation for Development and Peace and as Commissioner for the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Offered a welcome to the guests at the Opening Banquet.   Hon. Roy Innis, in addition to his acceptance of the WANGO Human Rights Award on behalf of CORE, offered a substantial closing address, that provided insights into the issue of human rights internationally, and offered philosophical reflections on working for true human rights versus more self-centered motivations and goals.

The Interactive Session have proven to be an integral part of the WANGO Annual Conference.  These roundtable discussions areConflict Resolution Interactive Session designed to bring governmental representatives and NGOs together to discuss how they can best work together to tackle humanity’s problems. Whether the issue is human rights, environmental affairs, families, conflict resolution, poverty, or HIV/AIDS, greater cooperation between these two arenas can advance solutions toward many difficult issues with which each nation’s citizens are faced.

The Interactive sessions examined how to increase cooperation between governments and competent NGOs that have substantial capabilities in their areas of focus and with which cooperation would be appropriate and mutually beneficial. They explored how governments can integrate NGO experience, knowledge and expertise into their Interactive Session on the Family operations to increase effectiveness in dealing with issues and priorities in their agendas. They also looked at what mechanisms are in place for government-NGO cooperation and how to strengthen the process for government-NGO consultation and dialogue. Finally, they examined how governments can develop a new compact with their civil society organizations to treat them as allies, rather than as adversaries, and thus using their strengths to benefit the citizens and deliver services. The attendance of government officials from local embassies and United Nations missions helped make these sessions particularly valuable.

The Saturday Afternoon Panel Sessions offered NGO leaders an opportunity to present on their own organizations and the activities that they are engaged in, or on any topic of particular interest. Presentations were made onHuman Security Panel Session such topics as Addressing Poverty in Economically Depressed Areas, A Sustainable Model for Rural Development in the Tropics, Promotion of Ecotourism, Child Safety on the Internet, Circumstances facing Migrant Women, Women in Bangladesh, Women in the Peace Building Process in Northeast India, Today’s Challenge for Umbrella Organizations, NGO’s Role in Reducing Global Violence, Police Abuses, Human Rights Violations, Social Development in Cambodia, HIV/AIDS, Aftercare of Prisoners, and so forth. These presentations were offered in concurrent sessions divided according to the themes of Development and Environment, Children and Youth, Women in the 21st Century, NGO Networking, Human Security I (Peace, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights), and Human Security II (Health Issues, Crime and Miscellaneous).

The field trips offered an opportunity for the NGO leaders to visit local historical and cultural sites, such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace, and other sites, as well as take a river cruise.

Asia Regional MeetingThe regional meetings were informal gatherings which offered NGOs an opportunity to meet according to geographical locations (eg., Africa, Europe, Asia, etc.).

The business meeting of the Association was held at a luncheon function. The State of WANGO was presented by the Secretary General, Taj Hamad, and officers were elected to the International Council. The membership also approved a change in the Bylaws, whereby WANGO members in good standing could serve on the various Committees set up by the International Council. While the general membership always constituted membership of the Nominating Committee, other committees previously were limited by the Bylaws to members of the governing council. The WANGO, Ghana chapter was formally recognized by the membership, having been approved by the International Council on September 25, and 19 newly approved national representatives also were recognized.

WANGO General Assembly (Business Meeting of Membership)

Summary

Based on the reflections of the participants, WANGO Annual Conference 2003 was an unqualified success. The conference was rich in information, presented an exceptional networking opportunity, had top speakers and trainers, and offered an atmosphere of caring and hospitality. Among the participants’ reflections were:


  I would like to thank you and your colleagues for making the WANGO conference such an inspirational one. I have never been in a conference where this much love and emotions was shared, whether form the organizers or the participants.

  I wish to thank WANGO from the bottom of my heart for the fantastic experience lived in Bangkok (Thailand) during the conference which took place from the 25th to the 28th of September 2003. I believe that it has been a great success for the NGOs who took part, united by the same ideal of peace and cooperation. Principally I want to emphasize that for our organization this has been the most important meeting in which we have ever taken part. . . WANGO has demonstrated that we can work together and contribute to the solution of some of the world's crucial problems. Truly WANGO is guiding us by spiritual and moral principles for the best practices for peace. . . I was very impressed by the very high level of the conference, both intellectual and organizational. Moreover it made a deep impression on me the degree to which WANGO achieved unity, fluidity and joy among such a diverse group of people. Sometimes when talking with representatives of some countries they commented to me that for them this level of organization was amazing, that  arranging something like this is not easy when there are so many people from different countries and backgrounds, that it was an unique and extraordinary feat. . .  Moreover on the technical level we have received a lot of tools to help us to grow as an NGO. I feel tremendous gratitude for this because in this regard there is a great deficiency (at least in my country) and we NGOs need suitable training and guidance in order to better accomplish our missions. . . On the personal level there were moments when I experienced tremendous joy in my heart because I felt a great, united family looking for solutions together, sharing extraordinary moments, some learning from others and everybody learning from what WANGO was teaching us. It has made a deep impression on me because this encounter has shown me that the ideal of true peace and unity, which we all desire for the world, is a dream that can become reality. 

  The highlights of the conference for me were the concern of WANGO for supporting its members toward a better future by caring and fostering an ethical global  community, and the common efforts towards helping to solve the main problems of humanity at this moment, in the fields of health, human rights, humanitarian efforts, and preventing disasters. This conference was helpful in such ways as meeting people from other NGOs, getting support and comfort by finding our problems present in other countries and by getting suggestions and information and guidelines to cope with the difficulties.
                                                        

  A highlight was reflecting that the NGOs role in community development goes with responsibility, accountability and transparency. Participation therefore becomes essential to ensure that NGOs, other than providing a valuable service, they conduct their activities in an ethical manner, thus guaranteeing their legitimacy. Codes of conduct should be put in place for NGOs that direct the conducts, behaviors and attitudes of members and employees. The conference provided valuable information, which, if used accordingly, will strengthen the resource base, capacity and sustainability of our NGO. Ownership of the organization is with the people whom the organization serves. This therefore implies that while conducting affairs of the organization, strategy and management should value input by beneficiaries.

 

  The workshops informed and provided new ideas, especially in fundraising and NGO networking. Thank you! All was great! The only thing I would do to make the conference even more helpful, given the value of the skills-based workshops, would be if there were even more such workshops.

 

  The highlights of this conference: I came to know that the world is becoming one. We are becoming more and more a global community. Without cultivating a heart of true love, we cannot solve the differences that divide people by race, nationality, culture, class and ethnicity. I was inspired by the manner in which NGO concerns were brought out. It was helpful to gain the knowledge that there are many organizations having similar perspectives, and the possibility for networking around issues of human rights.

                                                                               

  The atmosphere created by the conference is like a family. There is a real sense of us all being part of one family. While here, got the news that my grandfather died. Under any other circumstances, I would have returned. But because this felt like being among family here, I decided not to return, but to stay among all of my family here.

 

  I would add that there has been a sense of ownership created at the conference, as the NGO leaders are talking about WANGO in terms of “we” and “us” rather than “you” and “WANGO.” Instead of stating that “WANGO should do this or do that” we recognize this organization as our own.

                                                                               

  The discussions on trafficking in women and children and the suggestions of the interrelations between the big and small NGOs, and the education of families were the highlights of the 2003 WANGO conference. How to make connections with other NGOs were also valuable. The moral support from each other also gave me encouragement to run my own small NGO. I have learned how to make connections, to get advise, and ideas from the experienced NGOs and work selflessly, loving the grassroots levels as I work with them. I have also learned to be more moderate and sincere in my work. Knowing other cultures and other countries was a great teaching for me. Thanks, WANGO for inviting me.                                                                

This conference is helpful in many ways. Our organization will benefit from the knowledge obtained. For example, we have a lot to learn in terms of good relationships among stakeholders like people, government, and non-governmental organizations. Also, we will benefit from fundraising skills that were brought up in the conference. Last, but not least, issues of accreditation for NGOs are very crucial for making our NGO more recognized.

                                                                               

  I was impressed by the deep concern of people towards their fellows in need. I was impressed by the devotedness of the WANGO International Council, and the impact of the exhibition we had was substantial.

                                                                               

  Everything was excellent. The highlights were the action and not just talking, talking. Please accept my deep thanks.

                                                                               

  The symposium on trafficking in women and children in Asia was quite an “eye-opener” because this problem has not yet become a major concern in my country. I was grateful for the opportunity to benefit from diverse views.

                                                                               

  The speech on ethics by Dr. Alan Fowler was a highlight, as was the awards banquet. I level of the speakers is very good (better than in Washington, D.C., because less political). It’s important for people to share.

                                                                               

  Being at the United Nations was a really historical experience. The end, when Mr. Zia Rizvi encouraged the NGO representatives to work by (1) approaching their government; and (2) sharing their message with other NGOs was truly inspirational. I saw heads nodding in agreement and I felt that all gathered felt united in their determination to pass the resolutions.

                                                                               

   The workshops gave me many skills and also self-confidence for my further plans and actions. I am from Armenia. In the way of our country’s development and transition, I hope that these kind of conference may bring positive changes to build civil society.

                                                                               

   The workshop on Essential Fundraising Skills was particularly good. Making contacts and the practical workshops were helpful for our NGO.

   

  The highlights for me were the Opening Plenary at the United Nations, and the warmth among the participants. I appreciated the manner in which NGO concerns were brought forward. I find valuable the possibility for networking around issues of human rights.