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On January 23, 2002, WANGO served as the secretariat office for the "International Symposium on The United States and the United Nations: Exploring the Future of U.S.-U.N. Relations," which took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Gathering for this event was a truly select, blue-ribbon audience of UN ambassadors and secretariat personnel, diplomats of foreign embassies, members from the U.S. Congress, officials of the U.S. State Department, congressional aides, and leading authorities and research fellows from prestigious think tanks and universities. Overall, 30 Ambassadors and high-level officials from nearly 80 nations attended this one-day program. The substantive discourse advanced the dialogue on issues of fundamental import regarding the future of the United Nations, the role and responsibilities of the United States in the world organization, and the roles of the United States and the United Nations in international affairs. The proceedings of this symposium have been published and are available to the public.
In January of 2002, WANGO published its first edition of Beyond Boundaries, a quarterly newletter dealing with both general and practical issues of relevance to NGOs. The newsletter ranges in topics from broad articles about the role of NGOs in the world to highlights of activities of particular NGOs, from reports on WANGO activities to a potpourri of practical tips on such issues as funding, networking, strategic planning, technology innovation, and other concerns to the NGO community.
In mid-February of 2002, WANGO served as one of the main sponsors of the World Culture and Sports Festival 2002 (WCSF 2002), held in Seoul, Korea. The WCSF is a global gathering of major figures from a wide range of fields, including the arts, education, the media, religion and politics, as well as athletes and youth leaders. The WCSF 2002 theme was "Toward a New World Culture of Peace." Furthermore, as one of many events integral to the WCSF, WANGO conducted a series of committee meetings as part of Assembly 2002, an international conference sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), and co-sponsored by WANGO. The series of meetings conducted by WANGO (February 15-16) were convened on the theme "Strengthening the Family as the Foundation for a Culture of Peace: The Role of NGOs." Presenters such as Dr. Vishwanath Karad (President and UNESCO Chairholder, World Peace Center), Dr. Rashmi Mayur (Director, International Institute for a Sustainable Future), Mr. Thomas L. Christensen (Chairman of the Board, United Families International), Mr. Richard Zeif (United Nations Representative, International Federation of Training and Development Organizations), and Kimathi Innis (Congress of Racial Equality), joined with participants from numerous nations in discussing current societal trends with respect to the family and concrete initiatives that can be developed by NGOs to strengthen the family and counter deleterious trends.
A second "International Symposium on the United States and the United Nations" was held June 18-19, 2002 in Washington, D.C. Convened on the theme "Governance and the Challenge of Contemporary Crises," this symposium explored the question "How can the United States and the United Nations best cooperate in the service to humanity, as envisioned in the Charter of the United Nations and in the principles and values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?" (In reality, this was the third such symposium on U.S.-U.N. relations, the first in the series having been held on October 17, 1995, one week prior to the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Charter of the United Nations. Initiated under the leadership of current WANGO officer Dr. Frederick A. Swarts, this 1995 program explored a number of contentious questions that lay before the United Nations as it embarked upon its second half century. The program was addressed by current U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan - then U.N. Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping - and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, among other luminaries.)
This June symposium was a departure from previous programs in that it focused less on understanding the intrinsic relationship between the U.N. and the U.S. and more on assessing the degree and potential for cooperation in tackling pressing global problems. Themes discussed included international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the New Compact for Global Development and the Millennium Development Goals, the interreligious dimension in peace and security issues, the International Criminal Court, and the HIV/AIDS crises, among others. Over 60 nations were officially represented at the meeting. Participants heard from several U.S. Senators and Congressmen; U.N. Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury; U.S. Deputy Administrator Frederick W. Schieck of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Ms. Jackie Sanders, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs; Kenneth Thomas, the U.S. Deputy Director for International and National Security Affairs of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; and other leading authorities. Details of the conference are included in the Summer 2002 edition of Beyond Boundaries.
At the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, WANGO presented a program of special importance for WSSD delegates. This seminar, "Sustainable Development and Spirituality" (August 29) was co-sponsored with the IIFWP and the African American Islamic Institute. In addition to WANGO Secretary General Taj Hamad, head of the program committee for the seminar, speakers included Dr. Noel Brown (President, Friends of the United Nations), Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak (President, WANGO International Council), and Sheik Hassan Ali Cisse (President, African American Islamic Institute).
On September 14, WANGO Assistant Secretary General Dr. Frederick A. Swarts represented WANGO at a gathering of NGO leaders in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This one-day program was organized by WANGO member Bloque de ONGs (BONGs, Block of NGOs), under the leadership of its president, Mr. Juan Larancuent. Dr. Swarts presented Taj Hamad's speech, "The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the 21st Century," at this conference.
From October 18-20, 2002, leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from throughout the world, as well as select governmental, intergovernmental and corporate leaders, converged on Washington, D.C. for WANGO Annual Conference 2002. In all, 312 prominent leaders from 74 nations participated in this three-day gathering. Including WANGO staff, day guests, and speakers, a total of 353 individuals were involved in making this meeting of the Association one of the more memorable, unique and valuable programs since the organization’s founding.
WANGO Annual Conference 2002 took place at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., two blocks from the White House, and was convened on the theme, "Culture of Responsibility and the Role of NGOs." It was particularly noteworthy in that it not only brought together major NGO leaders, but also involved them in interactive discussions with governmental representatives, designed to explore how the non-state and state actors could best cooperate to fulfill common objectives. Most of the attendees were executive officers of their NGO, with 194 serving in such a position (President, Secretary General, Director, Chairman of the Board, Founder, Deputy Director, etc.). However, the program also attracted 34 prominent governmental and intergovernmental representatives, including five Ambassadors.
The program was also noteworthy for the diversity of NGOs represented. The 189 NGOs that sent representatives to the conference span the range from large NGOs, with millions of members, hundreds of staff, and multi-million dollar budgets to small NGOs with few staff. They are active in third world nations and industrialized nations, and represent all geographical regions: Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central America and North America. And the participating NGOs encompass the spectrum of human activity: humanitarian aid, conflict prevention and resolution, health care, the environment, economic and social development, indigenous people, religion, media, women, youth, and so forth. WANGO Annual Conference 2002 provided an unprecedented opportunity for networking across barriers of nationality, culture, speciality, and economic status.
Among the highlights of WANGO Annual Conference 2002 was the Awards Banquet, where recognition was accorded to NGOs that have shown remarkable leadership and sacrifice in their field of endeavor. Awards were presented in the areas of Peace & Security (Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress), Education (African American Islamic Institute), Environment (Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Canada), Human Rights (Bahrain Women's Society), Family & Peace (Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Revitalization), and Interreligious Cooperation (Bishop William E. Swing and United Religions Initiative). TheWANGO Universal Peace Award, WANGO's highest award to individuals, was presented to Professor Dr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza. (see Awards)
Among those who addressed the conference were included former Nobel Peace Laureate H.E. Oscar Arias Sanchez; the World Bank's Coordinator of the NGO and Civil Society Unit, Dr. William Reuben; Dr. Claude Welch, author of NGOs and Human Rights; Dr. Shireen Hunter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Lorne W. Craner, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Ms. Megan Epler Wood, Founder of the International Ecotourism Society; Ms. Alexandra Arriaga, Director of Government Relations for Amnesty International USA; and numerous other leading authorites. Workshops were conducted in such areas as Fundraising and Getting Grants; Strategic Management of NGOs; Media Relations; and Networking Skills, and Plenary and Panel Sessions were conducted on themes related to human security, human rights, environmental protection, family, relief services, health care, education, peace and confict resolution, women, youth, elderly, disadvantaged, NGO networks, and social, political and economic development. (see Executive Summary)
WANGO's Secretary General, Taj Hamad, traveled extensively in 2002 to share the vision of WANGO. He included in his travels South Africa, Senegal, England, France, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, South Korea, Bahrain, and Indonesia. In South Korea, during the time of the 2002 World Cup, Taj addressed five conferences dealing with the role of NGOs in the twentieth century, attended by NGO leaders, government officials, and business leaders. In Bali, Indonesia, Taj represented WANGO at the Fourth Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which took place May 27-June 7. One initiative on which WANGO was encouraged to cooperate was the Abu Dhabi Global Initiative on Environmental Data Collection, based on Chapter 40 of Agenda 21. Another initiative which WANGO invited support for was The Earth Charter, a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society that includes an ethical vision. From May 20-23, Taj was in Washington, D.C. for the international conference titled "Korea, Japan and the United States in the Pacific Era." He served as session chair and speaker for the panel on "Cooperation in Overcoming the Problems of Globalization."