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The year 2004 was an eventful year, with two, major new initiatives (Code of Ethics and Conduct for NGOs and Play Soccer, Make Peace!), several new national chapters, and the first WANGO regional conference adding to the regular program of activities.
On January 19, 2004, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of WANGO's International Council, and WANGO's Secretary General Mr. Taj Hamad were guests at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday celebration "Live the Dream" Ambassadorial Reception and Awards Dinner in New York City. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), one of the oldest and largest civil rights groups in the United States, and the recipient of WANGO's 2003 Human Rights Award, sponsored the blue-ribbon event. In introducing Dr. Kwak and Mr. Hamad to the full ballroom, the Honorable Roy Innis, CORE's National Chairman and host, publicly acknowledged WANGO's commitment and service to NGOs worldwide, and recognized WANGO for its principles and efforts that are in accord with CORE's firm belief that "Together, we can make equality a reality for all."
WANGO held its first Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean in Montevideo, Uruguay, from March 13-14, 2004. The theme for the conference was "The Role of NGOs in the Development of Latin America and the Caribbean". Representatives from 64 NGOs from 10 nations, as well as select political, corporate, and media leaders, participated in the conference.
The conference was honored by the presence of several distinguished speakers such as Dr. Leonard Guzman, the Minister of Education and Culture in Uruguay; Dr. Hector Gros Espiell, former Minister of Foreign Relations of Uruguay and former Undersecretary General of the United Nations; Mrs. Graciela Rompani de Pacheco, the former First Lady of Uruguay and Vice President of INAME (National Institute for Minors in Uruguay); Professor Nelson Pilosof, President of the World Trade Center Montevideo; and Dr. Manuel Bernales-Alvarado, UNESCO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean; among many others.
Two plenary sessions were held on the themes of "Global Vision Concerning the Objectives of NGOs" and "NGOs and Ethics: Toward an Ethical Culture in the Corporate, Civil Society, and Governmental Sectors." The first plenary emphasized the importance of creating good relationships between governments and NGOs and expounded on the role of NGOs in the development process of a country. It also addressed the fundamental role of NGOs as the conscience of a nation and how the values of love and truth are vital in the work of any NGO. The second plenary focused on the role of ethics and morality and how they are crucial in building a culture of service and bringing about progress and mutual benefit to society.
Four interactive training workshops were provided to help NGOs obtain funding and manage finances, improve their media coverage and publicity, share information about new technology, and form strategies for their organizations. Many of the conference participants saw the potential for greater collaboration and partnership through WANGO in Uruguay and in their region.
After a year and a half of concerted effort, a preliminary Code of Ethics and Conduct for NGOs was unveiled on March 13, 2004 at the WANGO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean. An international committee and advisors from over 42 nations worked on the Code of Ethics project, which had been initiated in 2002.
In early spring, a unique educational training seminar, "Responsibility and Transparency," was initiated, organized and successfully coordinated by the WANGO national representative of Guatemala, Mr. Ricardo Morales, for government personnel of several municipalities in Guatemala. The seminar, created in response to the need to address the corruption present in the country's government, emphasized and encouraged good communication, character development, mutual respect, cooperation, and team building among the municipal personnel as public servants. The National Association of Municipalities, the Union of Guatemalan Workers, and other official and municipal associations officially recognized the seminar.
In April, Bloque de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales, Inc. (BONGs), a WANGO member in the Dominican Republic since 2002, was selected to be the civil society representative on the Projects Selection Committee, which was formed jointly with the Delegation of the European Union and the Dominican Government, through the National Office of European Funds of Development. According to the Agreement of Cotonou, civil society should participate in the formulation of proposals and in the execution of projects to guarantee that all the funds are spent most effectively and efficiently. BONGs will be representing all the nation's NGOs until 2007.
WANGO's Secretary General Taj Hamad joined more than 2,000 leaders from academia, religion, politics, business and civil society participating in the World Economic Forum, held in Jordan from May 15-17. The World Economic Forum provides a collaborative framework for the world's leaders to address global issues. This event focused on the peace process in the Middle East and its mounting challenges, calling on the world leaders to revive the peace efforts and put the development process back on track in that region. Dr. Klaus Schwab, Founder/Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and H.M. King Abdullah, the King of Jordan, the forum's hosts, were enthusiastic with the sincere and genuine renewed effort of the world leaders toward better cooperation and partnerships among the nations.
In July, WANGO initiated the Play Soccer Make Peace! (PSMP!) project in order to promote world peace through the training of young soccer players in 44 developing countries of the world. PSMP! emphasizes adherence to ethical principles as well as good codes of behavior and sportsmanship in order to help build the character of each player. The project touches all sectors of society, including the youth, the community, local and national governments and NGOs. The central activity of PSMP! is a soccer tournament in which eight selected youth soccer teams compete, with each team receiving a monetary grant designed to help develop soccer in the nation. PSMP! helps to guide the players and build cooperation and respect between the teams.
This project came about because WANGO was selected by the Sun Moon Soccer Foundation to be the conduit for the distribution of one million dollars for the specific purposes of developing soccer worldwide and for the promotion of world peace. These funds, in turn, came from proceeds of the 2003 Peace Cup Soccer Tournament. The Sun Moon Soccer Foundation, founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, runs three professional teams – six-time national champion Seongnam Ilhwa in South Korea and two teams in Brazil. The Peace Cup is a biennial event bringing the top clubs from each continent to compete. The 2003 Peace Cup was organized by Brazilian star Pelé, with the purpose of encouraging world peace through soccer games, transcending the barriers of ideologies and religions. Profits from the games were to be used for this purpose, by contributing to the growth and training of young soccer players in the world's emerging and developing countries.
Because of WANGO's international network and grassroots connections, the Association was selected to design and carry out the soccer project. Rather than just hand out grants, WANGO took up the challenge by initiating soccer tournaments, with the proceeds handed out to the teams competing.
Play Soccer Make Peace! tournaments were completed in sixteen countries during the second half of 2004, with a plan well in place to complete tournaments in all the remaining targeted countries by April 2005. The countries that hosted PSMP! tournaments were Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Estonia, Guyana, Liberia the Solomon Islands, Zambia, Goa (India), Senegal, Cameroon, Mongolia, Kenya, Palau, Gaza, and the Philippines. In many nations, top government officials and other dignitaries attended the soccer tournaments. Since November, the island nation of Palau has also embarked on a soccer education program. This was a unique opportunity because through PSMP!, soccer is now developing and being organized as a youth sport in Palau where it had hardly been played before! (PSMP!)
The WANGO Annual Conference 2004 was held in Budapest, Hungary, October 21-24, with 235 select leaders from 55 nations. Convened on the theme "Healing a Hurting World: The Role of NGOs," the conference drew representatives of 142 NGOs, spanning the spectrum of the NGO community from small, local NGOs to major international bodies. A wide variety of session formats were offered to the participants, including 2 plenary sessions, 9 training workshops, 5 special symposia, 5 interactive sessions, 3 panel sessions, and 2 roundtables, as well as opportunities to network, and field trips to cultural and historical sites in Budapest. (Conference website)
One of the highlights of the Annual Conference was the Awards Banquet in which NGOs were recognized for their outstanding service and exceptional contributions to society. WANGO Awards were presented in the areas of Civil Society Development (Star Kampuchea), Family & Peace (United Families International), Environment (Buccoo Reef Trust), Humanitarian (Small Kindness) and Peace, Security & Reconciliation (PeaceWorks Foundation). (Awards)
Among those who addressed the conference were Dr. Katalin Szili, President of the Parliament and Hungary's Deputy Head of State; Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, Senior Advisor to the World Bank's Managing Director's Office; Thomas Glasser, Head of Representation for the Representation of the European Commission in Hungary; Jerome Glenn, Executive Director, American Council for the United Nations University and Director of the Millennium Project; Natalie Ambrose, Director of Emerging Issues and Strategic Planning for the Council on Foundations; and numerous other leading authorities. Workshops were conducted for NGO leaders in the areas of fundraising, strategic thinking, utilizing the new technologies, disaster involvement, partnering, media relations and other topics of relevance.
During WANGO's General Assembly, the business meeting of the Association held on the final day of the conference, four new WANGO national chapters were recognized. Members in the nations of the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka established the new chapters. 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 unable to be present at the conference.
In November, Paragon House released the publication, Development, Social Justice and Civil Society, edited by Dr. Thomas Ward. This book was developed primarily on the presentations given at the 2003 WANGO Annual Conference, and is an introduction to the political economy of NGOs. It reviews the historical evolution that has lead to the mainstreaming of NGOs in developed countries, and describes the challenges that NGOs still face in less developed countries. (Publications)
On November 13-14, the first WANGO seminar was held in Spain, in the beautiful city of Marbella. Seventy-four NGO leaders, representing 50 NGOs, foundations, and civil associations, as well as several governmental officials, met to discuss the theme "The Role of NGOs in the Establishment of a World of Peace." The seminar was organized and sponsored by WANGO member ANDECO, with the support and cooperation of numerous public and private organizations. The main objective of the seminar was to encourage the formation of closer links between the civil society and the government for the sake of integral community development and the establishment of a World of Peace.
This seminar was created after the model of the WANGO Annual Conference, having plenary sessions, interactive sessions, training workshops, and the opportunity for the NGOs to present their organizations and projects. A highlight of the seminar was the presentation and signing of the Peace Declaration, which was written based on the seven founding principles of WANGO, as practices for peace and harmony in establishing a unified world. Throughout the seminar, emphasis was put on the importance of NGOs to work together, beyond all barriers, in order to better serve the world and solve its many critical problems.
During the year, Secretary General Taj Hamad traveled widely representing the Association. His travels took him to Estonia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay.
Mohammed Attah, President of WANGO Nigeria, traveled to the Republic of Congo, at the request of the international secretariat, in order to meet with representatives of WANGO in that nation.
In late 2004, Ms. Anne Smart was appointed to a new post as Director of the Office of National and Regional Coordination, with this post slated to begin on January 2, 2005. In this position, Anne is responsible for supervising the work of the Regional Coordinators; developing projects and training in support of the National Representatives; guiding chapter development and activities, including processing applications for chapter status; serving as liaison with international organizations; and overseeing membership care, including coordinating international training programs and other projects to serve the membership. This position will be coordinated out of the international headquarters in Tarrytown, NY.
Following the WANGO Annual Conference in Budapest, Ms. Smart also traveled to the Baltic republic of Estonia (which is also her ancestral home). She met with several WANGO members and other NGO leaders interested in exploring the possibility of forming a national WANGO chapter. After a PowerPoint presentation by Ms. Smart explaining the purpose of the Association for the benefit of newcomers, Mr. Reigo Tonsberg, coordinator of Play Soccer Make Peace! for Estonia, reported on the successful event that took place September 28 and 29 in Parnu. Dr. Rein Ratas, WANGO National Representative for Estonia, helped in coordinating the event.