Executive Summary

 by

 Frederick A. Swarts, Ph.D.

 

Chain BridgeLeaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from throughout the world, as well as prominent governmental, intergovernmental and corporate leaders, converged on Budapest, Hungary from October 21-24, 2004 for WANGO Annual Conference 2004. In all, 235 select leaders from 55 nations participated in this four-day gathering. Including WANGO staff and local speakers, over 270 attendees were involved in making this a most memorable, unique and valuable program.

Convened on the theme Healing a Hurting World: The Role of NGOs, the conference participants examined issues of fundamental import for the worldwide NGO community. Although the theme of the conference was selected independently of the host city, Budapest provided an apt metaphor for our conference theme. For this beautiful capital of Hungary originally consisted of two cities built on opposite banks of the Danube. The bridging of diverse entities, epitomized by the Chain Bridge, Budapest’s first bridge across the Danube, is uniquely symbolic of the healing and unifying of our fractured world. Equally fitting is the fact that Budapest is world-renowned as the City of Healing, with its many medicinal baths and thermal springs. 

The Opening Plenary Session was held in the spectacular Hungarian Parliament Building, in the Session Hall of the former Upper House. Europe’s largest Parliament building, the Hungarian Parliament is a remarkable neo-Gothic structure on the banks of the Danube River. Other sessions of the Annual Conference took place at the Danubius Thermal and Conference Hotel Helia, which was likewise situated along the Danube River, overlooking Margaret Island.

The Annual Conference serves as the flagship event for the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO). The 2004 Annual Conference, which was held for the first time in Europe, drew participants from all regions: Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Unfortunate problems in obtaining VISAs limited participation from NGOs in Danubius Thermal and Conference Hotel Heliasome countries, but representatives of 142 NGOs were in attendance. These NGOs spanned the vast spectrum of the non-governmental community, from small, local NGOs to major international bodies, and encompassing 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 2004 Annual Conference involved a wide variety of session formats, including 2 plenary sessions, 9 training workshops, 5 special symposia, 5 interactive sessions, 3 panel sessions, and 2 roundtables, as well as various opportunities to network at regional meetings, meal functions, dessert mixers, and field trips to Budapest cultural and historical sites. The Annual Conference was also the setting for the Annual Business Meeting of the membership, as well as the 2004 WANGO Awards Banquet, in which NGOs were recognized for their spirit of service and Denes Bank effectiveness in addressing societal ills. Overall, the program included 62 invited speakers, as well as leaders of 19 member organizations who utilized the panel sessions to present on their NGOs or a topic of interest to them. Specialized trainers from the United Kingdom, India, Hungary, Malaysia, the United States and elsewhere provided workshops on fundraising, strategic thinking, utilizing the new technologies, disaster involvement, partnering, media relations, and other topics of relevance to NGOs. Special sessions for WANGO Chapter leaders and National Representatives provided opportunities for close coordination and feedback between WANGO officers and WANGO’s field leaders in the field. 

Special recognition goes to Mr. Denes Bank, President of the WANGO Hungary Chapter and Local Arrangements Chair of the conference. His tireless effort on all levels – from securing conference venues and arranging local speakers and entertainers, to production of the actual conference, to providing a warm welcome to delegates – was fundamental in the success of WANGO Annual Conference 2004.

Receiving lineDr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chair of WANGO's International Council, with H.E. Sir James Mancham, Founding President of Seychelles

Session Hall, Former Upper House, Parliament

Plenary Sessions

The Opening Plenary, which was convened in the Hungarian Parliament building, addressed the general theme The Role of NGOs in Healing a Hurting World.  Opening Plenary Session

This theme incorporates the recognition that, although we live in an age of extraordinary technological, scientific, medical, economic and social revolutions, the challenges confronting humanity remain enormous, and in many cases have exacerbated. Among these are the fact that, today, an estimated 800 million people suffer from malnutrition, 900 million are illiterate, and over 1 billion people live on less than one dollar a day. One-quarter of the world lives in poverty, and there is striking economic inequality between the haves and the have-nots: one state, Texas, has greater economic output than the entire African continent. Despite medical breakthroughs, over 20 million have died from AIDS, and an estimated 40 million more have HIV/AIDS. Genocide, war, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction remain too often reminders of the human capacity for mass killing, and an estimated 700,000 to 1 million women and children are trafficked each year. Opening Plenary AttendeesEnvironmentally, this is a time of collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, accelerating extinction, extensive population growth, and falling fresh water tables. Over 70% of major fish species are over-exploited and half of the world’s coral reefs are dead or dying. 

The remarkable “NGO revolution” now taking place represents substantial hope for addressing the serious problems plaguing humanity.  The non-governmental community is involved in healing this hurting world to a level that was never imagined a century ago.  Since the middle of the twentieth century, NGOs not only have Opening Plenary Attendees, see from front multiplied many-fold, but they have also diversified their activities and greatly increased in influence.  They now are involved in all areas of human life: humanitarian relief, education, human rights, environment, health care, research, advocacy, conflict prevention, and so forth. Their flexibility and connections to grassroots communities aids them in mobilizing resources quickly to affected areas, and their often single-minded commitment and strong motivation affords them a civic power that other institutions may lack. They often are willing to address threats that other groups overlook, and they are able to work across borders. In many cases, NGOs have proven more adept than government and business in responding to particular needs.  

This session provided an overview of the serious challenges humanity faces and the role of NGOs in tackling those problems. Non-governmental, governmental, and intergovernmental perspectivesDr. Szili and WANGO Secretary General, Taj Hamad were presented, emphasizing the desire of WANGO to promote cooperation in tackling humanity’s difficult problems.

Dr. Katalin Szili, President of the ParliamentThe President of the Parliament, Dr. Katalin Szili, who is also Hungary’s Deputy Head of State, opened this remarkable session. Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, who is Senior Advisor to the World Bank’s Managing Director’s Office (and former Special Representative of the World Bank to the UN and WTO), and Thomas Glasser, Head of Representation for the Representation of the European Commission in Hungary, offered insightful analysis from the intergovernmental sphere. A keynote address that dealt with fundamental issues and solutions from the non-governmental perspective was provided by Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of WANGO’s International Council. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of WANGO, served as Chair for the session. Subsequent to the thought-provoking presentations, attendees were treated to a guided tour of the Parliament, which is truly one of the most beautiful Parliaments in the world.

Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-YounisConference Chair, Dr. Chung Hwan KwakMr. Thomas Glasser

Plenary Session Two was convened on the theme, Beyond a Hurting World. This session looked at such stimulating questions as: What will this world look like in ten or fifteen or twenty years? What are the economic, technological, social, health, and geopolitical trends, and how will these impact the future work of NGOs? Can we envision a world free from want, free from fear, and with a sustainable environment, as well as universal Plenary Session Twofreedoms of speech and religion? Can we foresee a world in which extreme poverty and hunger are eradicated, there is universal primary education, child mortality is greatly reduced, and the digital divide is effectively bridged?

Clearly, we are living in a time of great opportunity and great risk. This session provided an overview of the trends that are shaking the foundations of society as we know it, and the future of NGOs in addressing global challenges. Presented was a vision of the future world, and a framework for assessing global prospects for humanity, as well as the opportunity to investigate how NGOs can become creators and transformers of their vision rather than just stewards of their organization’s mission. This session examined the Plenary Session Twooutlook for the next era of globalization and questioned the role of southern and northern NGOs in this new era. Overall, this session was designed to stimulate thinking about the future, and to help prepare NGOs for that future.

The guest speakers who addressed these issues were Jerome Clayton Glenn (Executive Director, American Council for the United Nations University and Director of the Millennium Project), Natalie Ambrose (Director, Emerging Issues & Strategic Planning, Council on Foundations), Ellen Hayakawa (President, The Centre for Spirituality and Sustainability), and Zia Rizvi (Director General, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs). The session was chaired by Michael Marshall (Editor-in-Chief, United Press International and Executive Director of the World Media Association).

Jerome GlennPlenary Session Two: Q & A

Special Symposia

WANGO Annual Conference 2004 featured five special symposia.

The first special symposium, European Integration and NGOs, examined the historical, present and future role of NGOs in the process of European integration, including perspectives from early and new members and candidates.  

The evolution of the European Union (EU) from a trade body into the major economic and political Mrs. Giri of India and Nigerian Leaders Networking During the Breakpartnership that it is today has been an historic achievement.  Considered as a unit, the EU has the largest economy in the world; were it a country, it would rank third in population and seventh in area. The EU, which was originally constituted as the European Economic Community (EEC) and later the European Community (EC), now comprises 25 states based on the European Communities, with ten countries have joined in 2004. Additional nations are on the list as candidate countries, these being Romania and Bulgaria (slated to join in 2007), as well as Turkey.  Founded to enhance political, economic and social cooperation, this is the most powerful regional organization in existence, and is a force for peace and democracy.

In addition to an overview of NGOs’ role in European integration, this session included a discussion of NGOs involvement on current issues of relevance to the EU, such as its enlargement south and east and the European constitution; the consultative mechanism between NGOs and Public Administration; the NGOs’ roles in forming public opinion; and the benefits and detriments of engagement with the EU. 

Chaired by Michael Barabas (Director, European House and Director of CIVICUS European Regional Office) of new EU member Hungary, this session also included informative presentations by Professor Aurora Martin of Romania, a candidate country (Vice President, Romanian Women’s Future), and Alain Calmes of Luxembourg, an original member (Secretary General, European Federalists Union, Luxembourg).

Jennifer Christensen addresses the Panel on the FamilyThe second special symposia, Healing the Family, dealt with challenges to the fundamental institution of the family, and the role of NGOs in tackling these challenges.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” However, the family unit in many nations is undergoing major challenges, with increasing divorce rates, spousal and child abuse, and father-absent families being among the stresses.  Furthermore, since the adoption of the Universal Declaration in 1948, even the traditional concept of what constitutes a family, marriage, and the parent-child relationship is being countered by radical new conceptions.  One of the major policy frontlines in the 21st Century centers on the issue of the definition of family and marriage, and what moral and social norms are to be protected. The expansion of the definition of family beyond father, mother and child, and the new development of same-sex marriage, now legal in five nations, have brought this issue to the forefront.

This session examined current global and national trends with respect to the family, the societal value of the traditional family, and efforts by the non-governmental community to heal the family with respect to family breakdown, child abuse, father-absent families, and other challenges.  It also looked at concerns, expressed by leaders of various nations and religious bodies, that certain political units, including intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations, are moving in a direction inimical to the nuclear family and advancing an agenda that would promote family breakdown. The contrasting perspectives and influences of NGOs in this regard were part of the discussion. 

Speakers at this second special symposia included Cheryl Wetzstein (National Reporter, The Washington Times), Dr. V. Mohini Giri (Chairperson, Guild of Service, and Founding Trustee of Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia), and Dr. Thomas L. Christensen (Co-Founder, United Families International). Dr. Wajeeha Al-Baharna, who could not attend due to an unanticipated problem with her VISA, submitted a paper for the session. Also contributing substantially was Dr. Christensen’s daughter, Jennifer Christensen, whose address brought a fresh perspective to the issue. Massimo Trombin, WANGO’s European Regional Coordinator, served as Chair of the Session.

The third special symposia, Healing Societies in the Aftermath of Conflict, dealt with the daunting challenges and opportunities facing countries emerging from inter- and intra-state conflict. After conflict, political, military and educational infrastructures may be in chaos, the health care system overwhelmed, the economic infrastructure devastated, and there may deep scars from human rights abuses and environmental destruction. Yet, there may also be unprecedented opportunities. For example, Nancy Bremeo has noted that “of the seventy-three democracies founded after 1945 that still exist today, over half emerged either in the immediate aftermath of a war or as a means of bringing an ongoing war to an end.”

The non-governmental community has a fundamental role in healing societies in the aftermath of conflict. NGOs offer humanitarian aid, engage inDr. Nicholas Kittrie peacekeeping and high-level mediation, work to foster an ethical culture in the governmental and corporate worlds, take on educational tasks and health care, rebuild the artistic and historical culture, and play myriad other roles. 

This session looked at such issues as the conditions needed for guaranteeing long-term peace and prosperity within societies emerging from conflict and for the construction of a stable, post-conflict democracy. Included was a comparison of democracies arising from conflict versus democracies arising in peacetime, and the importance of fostering a strong civil society, as well as such complex challenges as redressing human rights abuses, recreating the social fabric and environment, and building effective, accountable and transparent state institutions. 

Chaired by Dr. Nicholas Kittrie (Chairman, Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Peace and Justice), the panel treated attendees to presentations from Professor Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (Department of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University), Michelle L. Stevens (Author, Healing the Land, Healing the People), and Zia Rizvi (Director General, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs).

The fourth special symposia, Youth NGOs and Volunteerism, was organized by Denes Bank. In addition to serving as the conference’s Local Arrangements Chair, Mr. Bank serves as Vice President of the Children and Youth Parliament. Despite his youth, Denes Bank is very accomplished, having formed his first NGO at the age of 17, and holding leadership positions in a number of NGOs.

Youth NGOs sessionAs tensions grow day by day between the different cultures and societies, and as no immediate answers can be formulated, more and more attention is paid to preparing the new generations to answer these challenges. Many reports warn us, though, that young people get further and further from the virtues that could serve as a basis for that on the global level.

Non-governmental organizations have a crucial role in the informal education and upbringing of youth. Within these frameworks, they can learn democracy, tolerance, responsibility, listening and much more. This symposium addressed the main problems of Hungarian youth and the solutions carried out by NGOs; the key starting points and milestones of the Youth NGO sector in Hungary; and the experience in high-level networking. The importance and ways of training and researching were also highlighted.

The art of living together in peace is the art of living for one another. Volunteerism is an activity, a movement and a way of life where people give their own virtues into the hands of others for free or well below their normal price or even cost. And in this relationship new virtues are born. Quite an enormous percentage of volunteers are young people. This symposium outlined what makes the world of volunteerism move and what its nature is like, what practical role it can play in the life of youth, and also what findings can be realized from a research that is of international importance.

Chaired by Denes Bank, the session included presentations from Laszlo Pracser (Co-President, Hungarian Children and Youth Convention), and Andras Toth (Director, Volunteer Centre Foundation), among others.

Panelists for Special Symposium on Women NGOsThe fourth special symposia, Women NGOs and the Peace Process, examined the prominent role played by women NGOs in peacemaking and peacekeeping, and how they can be more effective in advancing peace.  Although women are less represented than men in government structures, women have played an important role in the civil society and women's groups have taken a lead in civil society conflict resolution efforts.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has observed: “Women, who know the price of conflict so well, are also better equipped than men to prevent or resolve it. For generations, women have served as peace educators, both in their families and in their societies. They have proven instrumental in building bridges rather than walls.”

Political leaders and the media have often given attention to the plight of women in war, as victims. It is noted, for example, that women make up a disproportionate amount of those displaced by war -- indeed, women and children constitute about 80% of the world’s millions of refugees and other displaced persons.  What often has been overlooked is the vital of role of women as peacemakers.  With this new millennium is a growing demand for women to be represented in peace negotiations, and a growing recognition that women and men have diverse interests to be considered.

Dr. Mihaela Dimetrescu (Vice President, Romanian Association for European Integration Democracy) chaired this session, which featured presentations by Sylwia Spurek (Expert in Office of Polish Government Plenipotentiary on Gender Equality), Liliana Pagu (President, Women’s Association of Romania, and National Coordinator of the Women’s NGO Network of Romania), and Elisabeth Riedl (Vice President, Women’s Federation for World Peace, Austria).

Attendees, during Meal FunctionFormer First Lady of Nigeria, Dr. Maryam Babangida, Founder of the Better Life Programme for African Women, with WANGO Secretary General Taj Hamad

 

Workshops

Nine practical workshops were featured at WANGO Annual Conference 2004.

Two workshops on Essential Fundraising Skills for NGOs workshop were conducted by Ms. Neelam Makhijani (Programme Director, The Resource Alliance) of the United Kingdom and General Surat Sandhu (Executive Director, Concept Consultants) of India. One of the most critical issues that non-profits face is ensuring financial sustainability for their good works to continue. This interactive session covered essential issues facing organizations and fundraisers, providing an overview of  the principles and techniques of fundraising, the key strategic activities to achieve the desired goals, and prerequisites for success. Included was a discussion of the changing environment, maximizing income, an ideal Fundraising Workshopcharity, communicating your brand, the rationale for giving, identifying the stakeholders, and a plan for fundraising, as well as ethics, transparency and accountability and managing relationships.

Ms. Neelam Makhijani and General Sandhu also offered a workshop on Nonprofit Leadership. This session familiarized participants with a range of skills, knowledge and competencies to improve the performance of their organization and self. Utilizing an interactive format, answers were sought to what nonprofit leadership means, personal effectiveness, leadership in fundraising, communicating the vision, and conveying personal presence. Among the issues dealt with were distinguishing leadership and management, establishing and adapting leadership style, strategic versus operational thinking, modeling effective behavior, setting personal goals, the role of the CEO in fundraising, sharing vision in an inspirational way, forms and styles of vision, engaging boards and staff in vision, influencing skills, making an impact, and you as a “brand.”

Ms. Jill Nadolski (Marketing and Fundraising Director, The Retail Trust, London) offered two workshops, one dealing with Strategic Thinking for NGOs: A New Paradigm and one dealing with Media Relations and NGOs. Retail Trust, which was established in London in 1832, is a charity with the mission to support those working in, or retired from, the retail industry when they or their families need care or assistance. Ms. Nadolski has 20 years marketing/fundraising experience developing successful strategies for NGOs in the UK, USA and India.Media Workshop

Ms. Nadolski’s first session, on Strategic Thinking, dealt with the ability of organizations to think ahead and respond to rapidly changing situations – a vital quality for NGOs in today’s world.  While strategic planning is important as an analytical tool for the here and now, strategic thinking is a creative tool for leaders and managers to envision the future for their organization and how to turn that vision into reality. This interactive workshop explored the various models of strategic thinking and how they can be applied.   The workshop covered (1) What is Strategic Thinking?; (2) How is it different from Strategic Planning? (3) Two models of Strategic Thinking; and (4) Aligning strategic thinking and strategic planning. At the end of the session, delegates had insights into the tools and rules of thinking creatively and influencing change.

Ms. Nadolski’s second session, on Media Relations, dealt with the fact that news media is unmatched in its ability to shape public perception of NGOs. Good media relations is essential if an organization wants to position itself as a player in the issues that matter.  It can support fundraising appeals or place the organization as an authoritative source for future stories. This interactive workshop provided tools to develop an effective media relations strategy.  The workshop covered such themes as (1) media basics; (2) packaging and selling your message; (3) building relations; (4) crisis communications; and (5) avoiding common pitfalls. At the end of the session, delegates had the tools to develop a media relations strategy for their organization.

Merrill BlackMs. Merrill Black (President, Active Voice) served as the trainer for a workshop titled Utilizing the New Technologies for Nonprofits. Clearly, new technologies offer ways for NGOs to work more effectively and efficiently in caring out their missions. New technologies can help an NGO to sustain and deepen relationships it already has; identify and cultivate new prospects; cast a much wider net, over time making people aware of its work who might otherwise not know about it; help an NGO stay current about the environment in which it functions; allow the tracking and analyzing of the outcomes of its work; and assist in identifying strategic partners and remain aware of who is working in the field; among other values. This session focused on a framework for a technology strategy for NGOs. It examined fundraising online, as well as developed a handout of the basic technological toolbox, with strategies for using service providers, partnering with universities and businesses, and looking at international fundraising as a means to acquire resources.  This session dealt with a wide variety of technology solutions, and with such issues as Digital Divide funding, in-kind gifts, and low-cost ways to establish a net presence. 

Dr. Ron Patterson (Executive Director, Christian Disaster Response International) coordinated the workshop NGOs and Disaster Involvement. The number and severity of natural and human caused disasters are increasing each year, with a mounting cost in lives and resources. By equipping organizations with preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation information and instruction, the cost of disasters can be greatly reducedDr. Ron Patterson. Since NGOs are often called upon to assist disaster victims it is vital that they have the necessary tools to be effective when disasters occur in their geographical area.

Dr. Patterson’s experience in international disaster response and recovery spans three decades and four continents. He has conducted Disaster Preparedness and Response Seminars in nine countries, and directed over 46 major domestic and 15 international response and recovery efforts. Through this session, Dr. Patterson provided information on the physiology of disasters, followed by an overview of how NGOs can become involved in one or more aspects of the disaster cycle. Regardless of the so-called status of a country – first, second or third world – this program is applicable. Included was a discussion of natural and man-made disasters, the disaster cycle, resources (local, national, and international), training opportunities; and steps for practical application.

Mr. Richard A. Zeif (Chair, UN/NGO Task Forces, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) offered an instructive workshop on NGOs Partnering Together and With Other Elements of Society.  Under the leadership of the Non-Governmental Organization Section of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Strategic Task Forces,” each having their own goals and activities linked to the Millennium Development Goals, are being formed. The Task Forces (i.e., Poverty Reduction, Education, Health, Gender Equality, etc.) are composed of representatives from all the NGO communities, United Nations, Government, and Civil Society. Through this workshop, Mr. Zeif provided information on how NGO leaders can learn to make their voices more powerful and their activities more effective: By joining with others of like interest and spirit in supporting goals and activities, which have been fully accepted and agreed upon through the United Nations, by the governments of the world.

Dr. Kashinath Pandita (General Secretary, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum) provided detailed 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 United 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.

Interactive Sessions

The Interactive Sessions on government-NGO cooperation have proven to be an integral part of WANGO annual conferences.  These off-the-record roundtable discussions bring governmental representatives and NGOs together to discuss how they can best work together to tackle Interactive Session on Conflict Resolutionhumanity’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 five interactive sessions held during WANGO Annual Conference 2004 focused on practical avenues 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 operations to increase effectiveness in dealing with issues and priorities in their agendas. They  looked at what mechanisms are in place for government-NGO cooperation and how to strengthen the process for government-NGO consultation and dialogue. They also 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.   Dr. Pandita and Dr. Chirzin

There were five interactive sessions. The interactive session on Conflict Resolution, Peace and Security, featured an introductory presentation by Dr. Elsadig B. E. Abdalla, Press and Cultural Counselor at the Sudan Embassy in London. In this role, he supervises all media functions at the Embassy in London, and is also media and information advisor to the Sudan embassies in Europe and North America. Previously, Dr. Abdalla has served as Press Advisor to the President of the Sudan, and the Director of the President’s Office for Media and Information, and as Information Director for the Prime Minister’s Office in Sudan. This off-the-record session was moderated by Dr. Nicholas N. Kittrie, Chairman of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace.

The interactive session on Human Rights, moderated by Dr. Kashinath Pandiata of the Families, Women and Youth Interactive SessionAsian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum, featured an introductory presentation by Dr. Muhammad Habib Chirzin, Commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia. The session on Families, Women and Youth, moderated by Dr. Gordon Anderson, Secretary General of the Professors World Peace Academy, began with presentations by Dr. Teodoro Ulsino Reyes, a Congressman from the Dominican Republic, and Ms. Sylwia Spurek of the Polish Government’s Office on Gender Equality. Mr. Vincent W. S. Yang, Assistant Director General for the NGO Affairs Committee of the Republic of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided insights for the session on Development Issues, which was moderated by Charles Abbey, Executive Director of the African Development Program. The fifth interactive session was on Environmental Affairs, and was moderated by Mr. Karl W. Oppermann, President of the environmental NGO, ANDECO.

Awards Banquet

The WANGO Awards, presented annually, are one of the more prestigious awards for the NGO community.  WANGO’s Awards programDr. Noel Brown, Chair of WANGO Awards Committee honors non-governmental organizations from throughout the world that demonstrate extraordinary effort, innovation, leadership, and excellence in providing service to humanity. WANGO not only recognizes prominent international NGOs, but also the smaller, lesser-known NGOs in the least developed countries, whose exemplary service and success may have gone unnoticed and unappreciated on the international stage.

In addition to recognition of NGOs, WANGO also honors outstanding individuals whose work involves them with the non-governmental community. The Universal Peace Award is WANGO’s highest award to individuals, and is presented annually to an individual who contributes substantially to world peace and global well-being. The 2002 Universal Peace Award was presented to Prof. Dr. Federico Mayer Zaragoza, former Director General of UNESCO, and H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand received the 2004 Universal Peace Award. 

Notably, the 2003 WANGO Environment Award was presented to the Green Belt Movement (GBM), and received by Dr. Wangari Maathai, who became the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Civil Society Development Award to Star KampucheaThe 2004 WANGO Awards Banquet was held on the evening of October 23, and was one of the highlights of the conference.

The 2004 Civil Society Development Award was presented to Star Kampuchea, a Cambodian NGO that is leading the effort to strengthen civil society in that nascent democracy. Through its numerous programs, including the development of an NGO Code of Ethics, Star Kampuchea has been at the forefront of improving the coordination, effectiveness, and credibility of NGOs, and tackling issues of critical importance to the civil society sector and the people of Cambodia.  The award was received by Nhek Sarin, Star Kampuchea’s Executive Director.

The 2004 Family & Peace Award was presented 2004 Family & Peace Award: United Families International to United Families International, one of the world’s leading, non-governmental organizations devoted to maintaining and strengthening the family as the fundamental unit of society. This non-denominational, public charity has been conducting a very active agenda of programs oriented toward strengthening the family and overcoming the obstacles to the integrity of this irreplaceable institution. The award was received by Dr. Thomas L. Christensen, a founder of UFI, who was joined on the platform by his daughter, Jennifer.

The 2004 Humanitarian Award was received by Small Kindness. A UK-based charity, Small Kindness works to alleviate the suffering of families and children in the Balkans and the Middle East. It is involved in promoting community development and prosperity by providing relief and educational programs to needy people ravaged and made homeless by war, conflict and natural Yusef Islam receives the Humanitarian Award on behalf of Small Kindness disasters. Small Kindness helps the most vulnerable victims of war and conflict, such as orphans, widows, and young girls, by providing direct relief and support, while employing and utilizing local staff and infrastructure. This organization was one of the first aid agencies to directly provide financial support to orphans and families in the aftermath of the Iraq war. And it also opened the first European Management Training & Educational Center in the heart of Baghdad University, and has over 500 girls on the rolls. This award was received by founder, Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens). (Subsequently, Yusuf Islam was awarded the “Man of Peace Award” at the opening of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates at Rome’s City Hall on November 10. The Gorbachev Foundation, which presented the award, recognized Yusuf Islam for his charity, Small Kindness.)

The 2004 Environment Award was presented to Buccoo Reef Trust, a Caribbean non-profit organization, which is tackling the seriousBuccoo Reef Trust receives 2004 Environment Award challenges facing our marine environments in that region, with particular emphasis on the threats facing Tobago’s coral reefs. Coral reefs are among the most diverse, productive and biologically significant communities on earth. The coral reefs surrounding Tobago are economic and ecological treasures, and the 10,000 year-old Buccoo Reef, for which the trust is named, is the largest coral reef in Tobago. The Buccoo Reef Trust, which is registered in Trinidad and Tobago, is addressing the threats facing Tobago’s coral reefs and exploring opportunities for the sustainable development of marine tourism, fishing and aquaculture in the Caribbean region as a whole. The Buccoo Reef Trust is particularly active in the restoration of its namesake, the Buccoo Reef.  This award was received by Honorable Gerald George MacFarlane and Ms. Kaye Trotman, Directors.

The 2004 Peace, Security and Reconciliation Award was presented to PeaceWorks 2004 Peace, Security and Reconciliation Award: PeaceWorks Foundation and its One Voice ProjectFoundation. Through its innovative OneVoice initiative, PeaceWorks Foundation has been tackling one of the most pressing and intractable issues of our day – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PeaceWorks Foundation seeded One Voice with the cooperation and leadership of over 200 Palestinian, Israeli and international experts and community leaders, and it now has three offices in the Middle East: an Israeli office, a Palestinian office, and a regional coordination office. What is unique about OneVoice is the development of a concrete platform and methodology designed to empower the moderate majority of Palestinians and Israelis to come up with a viable and acceptable mandate for co-existence, and achieve consensus for conflict resolution at the grassroots level. The award was received by the Founder of PeaceWorks Foundation, Daniel Lubetzky, and by One Voice’s Mideast Regional Director, Mohammad Darawshe.

 

Group Photo of All Award Recipients             Mr. Yusef Islam and daughter (on right) with Awards Attendees

 

Other Sessions and Events

Dr. Frederick A. Swarts coordinated a roundtable on the theme of Toward an NGO Certification Process, which dealt with the issues of NGOCyril Muller codes of conduct and NGO certification and rating programs.  This session featured a presentation by Cyril Muller, Vice President for Products and Strategy for Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). Founded in 1878, SGS is the global leader in inspection, testing and certification services, and now has 37,000 employees and operates a network of almost 840 offices and subsidiaries and over 320 laboratories around the world. Mr. Muller elaborated on SGS’s new NGO Benchmarking product to provide an independent assessment of an NGO’s performance.

The Saturday Afternoon Panel Sessions offered NGO leaders an opportunity to make presentations on their own organizations and the activities that they are engaged in, or on any topic of particular interest. Presentations were made on such topics as The Role of NGOs in the Development of World Culture, NGOs Building a European Citizenship, Europe Against Drugs (EURAD), Combating Youth Unemployment, and Education Can Kindle an Attitudinal Change Regarding Women’s Rights in India. These presentations were offered in concurrent sessions divided according to the themes of Culture of Peace (chaired by Mr. Mohammed Attah, Executive Director of NGO Guide 2000), Human Dignity (chaired by Ms. Marian Barnes, Executive Director of ANDECO), and Children and Youth (chaired by Ms. Sheri Reuter, Vice President of Women’s Federation for World Peace, USA).

The field trips offered an opportunity for the NGO leaders to visit local historical and cultural sites, such as Castle Hill and Castle Quarter area on the Buda side of the city, and the Plaza of Heroes and St. Stephens Cathedral on the Pest side of the city.  Among the sites seen in the Castle Hill section were Matthias Church (a 700-year old structure, now in neo-Gothic style, where royalty was crowned), Fishermen’s Bastion (a neo-Reomanesque style structure on the foundations of the medieval castle walls with a superb viewpoint of the city including the Parliament on the other side of the Danube), and the former Royal Palace and its attendance buildings (which now include the Hungarian National Gallery, Castle Museum and Museum of Military History, as well as Sandor Palace, once the resident of the Prime Minister and now the office of the President).

General AssemblyThe six regional meetings proved a useful time for delegates to network and discuss issues of common concern with other attendees from their geographic area. These regional meetings were held for delegates from Europe, Asia & Oceania, the Middle East (Western Asia and Northern Africa Regions), Africa, Latin America, and Northern America and English-speaking Caribbean. 

WANGO’s General Assembly, the business meeting of the Association, was held on the final day of the conference. The meeting was coordinated by Michael Marshall, Editor-in-Chief of UPI and a WANGO board member. The WANGO Attendees of General Assemblymembers in attendance, which included both voting and non-voting representatives, were presented with the agenda for the meeting, a list of recommended revisions in the Bylaws, the draft WANGO Code of Ethics and Conduct for NGOs, and a pie-chart diagram on the distribution of expenditures for 2003, the last full-year of financial data.

Taj Hamad, Secretary General of WANGO, provided an overview on the activities of WANGO since the last annual meeting, which had been held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2003.  Among the activities traced by Mr. Hamad were the presentation of the Universal Peace Award 2003 to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, his visits to 12 countries and the World Economic Forum in Jordan on behalf of WANGO, the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Conference held in Montevideo, Uruguay, and WANGO activities in Guatemala, among other topics.  Department and Project Reports Anne Smart, WANGO Membership Directorwere given by Anne Smart (Membership Report), Jean Rondon (Publications Report), Frederick Swarts (Code of Ethics Initiative), Robin Graham (Play Soccer, Make Peace! Project), and Kevin Pickard (Video Project).

The International Council elections also took place at the General Assembly. Two current board members, Dr. Kathy Winings and Dr. Nicholas Kittrie, were re-elected to a new three-year term, and three new board members were elected:  Dr. Wajeeha Al-Baharna, President of the Bahrain Women’s Society (Bahrain); Cesar Regalado, Director General of Tiempos Del Mundo, Dominican Republic, and Marian Barnes, President of Andeco (Spain). 

The voting members of the Association also approved three revisions in the Bylaws, one of which was designed to improve WANGO’s mission statement and two of which were designed to allow national chapters greater flexibility as well as clarify the relationship between national chapters and the international Association.

The next item on the agenda was recognition of the new national representatives, which had been approved by the IDominican Republic Chapternternational Council during their annual meeting on Thursday, October 21, 2004. These newly authorized national representatives included Marian Barnes (Spain), Dr. Kashinath Pandita (India), Nhek Sarin (Cambodia), Mr. Syed Shahnawaz Najmi (Pakistan), and Mr. Evans Lombe (Zambia).

Four new chapters also were recognized, having been approved by the International Council during their annual meeting on October 21. These four new chapters were established by members in the nations of the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. Representatives of the first three of these chapters were brought to the stage and received official certificates recognizing their chapters. The representative from Sri Lanka was absent, due to a VISA problem.

 

Nigeria ChapterHungary Chapter

During the conference, attendees were also treated to a number of other addresses, including by Dr. Kathy Winings (Vice President of the Board,International Relief Friendship Foundation), Denes Bank (Vice President, Children and Youth Parliament), Taj Hamad (WANGO Secretary General), Juan Larancuent (Executive Director, Bloque of NGOs), Misook Kim (WANGO Asia and Oceania Regional Coordinator), and others.

Dr. Gordon Anderson, Secretary General of the Professors World Peace Academy, presented the Rapporteur’s Report at the Closing Banquet, and Mr. Zia Rizvi (Director General, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs) offered several Resolutions for consideration by the distinguished attendees.