Frederick A. Swarts, Ph.D.
Leaders of non-governmental organizations
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
for the worldwide NGO community.
The Annual Conference serves as the flagship
for the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).
Annual Conference, which was held for the first time in Asia, drew
from Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America,
America, the Caribbean,
and South America. In all, 147 NGOs from 50
sent representatives. Most NGO participants served as the chief
officers of their organization (with 100 serving with the title of
Executive Director, Secretary General, Chairman of the Board, or
in attendance were governmental and intergovernmental officials and
officers. In all, a total of 230 attendees (267 including staff and
gathered for WANGO Annual Conference 2003.
The NGOs represented at WANGO Annual
spanned the spectrum of the non-governmental community, from small,
to major international bodies, and encompassed the diversity of human
from humanitarian NGOs, to environmental NGOs, to those involved in
health care, human rights, conflict prevention, and development
The opening day of the Annual Conference was
the United Nations Conference Center (UNCC) in Bangkok. A major
for the United Nations System, Bangkok has sometimes been called the
Asia, and is home to a diverse UN Community, with numerous agencies and
diplomatic missions. Events taking place at the UNCC included the
Plenary Session, Plenary Session Two, the Interactive Sessions (Fostering Greater Cooperation Between
Governments and NGOs), and various workshops. Joining these
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
the Amari Watergate Hotel, also in downtown Bangkok.
The 2003 Annual Conference involved a wide
of session formats, including 4 plenary sessions, 10 training
special symposia, 5 interactive sessions, 6 panel sessions, and a
an “NGO Code of Ethics,” as well as various opportunities to network at
regional meetings, meal functions, dessert mixers, and field trips to
cultural and historical sites. A number of organizations used the
venue to set up exhibits. The Annual Conference was also the setting
Annual Business Meeting of the membership, as well as the 2003 WANGO
Banquet, in which NGOs were recognized for their spirit of service and
effectiveness in addressing societal ills. Overall, the program
invited speakers, as well as leaders of 43 member organizations who
the panel sessions to present on their NGOs or a topic of interest to
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 growing
of a global revolution that is impacting all parts of society: human
education, politics, the environment, business, and even the war on
This sweeping change is the NGO revolution – the dramatic increase in
numbers, importance, and diversity of non-governmental organizations
NGOs now impact policies, deliver services, guide agendas and advance
initiatives that once were nearly exclusively the arena of governments
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
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
They are involved in AIDS education in Uganda and the passing of
treaties on landmines. In Bangladesh, where 5,000 NGOs are involved
literacy programs, children are more likely to learn to read with the
assistance of an NGO than through a state organization. In Kenya, over
the health care services are provided by NGOs, and in Zimbabwe in 1997
1998, NGOs supplied the emergency drought relief services that the
was unable to provide. Worldwide,
now deliver more development assistance than the entire U.N. system
the World Bank and the IMF).
The Opening Plenary Session
explored in general the critical role of NGOs in current society, with
on their role as advocates and agents of a more ethical, just, and
society. It also dealt with general
issues related to NGOs, including the accomplishments and constraints
non-governmental community and recent trends in global
Speakers at this session
included Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan
(Chairperson, Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, National
Development Administration; Secretary General for Transparency
and the Honorable Mechai Varavaidya (Member
of the Senate of Thailand’s
Parliament –the National Assembly of Thailand; Founder and Chairman of
Population and Community Development Association). The Keynote Address
provided by Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak,
Chairman of WANGO’s International Council.
Session Two was convened on the theme, Human
Security and the Role of NGOs. The concept of human security
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
counter external threats. In the human security conception, the
the primary referent of security. This people-centered approach
focus from security of borders to the lives of people inside and across
security is often characterized as dealing with two fundamental
“freedom from fear” and “freedom from want.” That
is, it involves freedom both from pervasive threats
lives and safety, as well as threats to their economic and social
well-being. U.N. Deputy
Secretary-General Louise Frechette stated that human security means
things that men and women anywhere in the world cherish most: enough
the family; adequate shelter; good health; schooling for the children;
protection from violence whether inflicted by man or by nature; and a
which does not oppress its citizens but rules with their consent.” In
human security is concerned with both violent and non-violent threats:
terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, torture, war casualties,
disease, deprivation (food, water, educational opportunities), slavery,
child soldiers, and environmental degradation. A complement to state
human security deals with protection of an individual’s human rights
borders and enhancing human development, in order that each person has
opportunity to fulfill his or her own potential.
as vitally important non-state actors in the related fields of human
development, human rights, and conflict prevention, have a crucial role
in advancing, advocating, and implementing human security. Their
adaptability, closeness to local populations, willingness to address
which others groups may overlook, and ability to build coalitions and
beyond borders are some of the traits which enhance their capability to
human security. Through the use of persuasion (soft power), they can
disseminate information and ideas and they can foster norms of conduct.
second plenary session examined the current and potential role NGOs
human security, and the unique advantages they bring, and obstacles
in this arena. This session also looked
at the particular role that NGOs play in the current crisis of
weapons of mass destruction, and their role in addressing post-conflict
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.
Humankind is confronting
extraordinary challenges. The world is experiencing fundamental crises
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
the political process. Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
headlines, as do health issues such as HIV/AIDS. Racial, ethnic and
conflicts, trafficking in women and children, drug abuse, human rights
ecosystem collapse, and other issues stress our existence in this
Centermost to making a more
healthy, just and better functioning society is the fostering of a more
culture. NGOs share with the governmental and corporate realms a social
responsibility to address the extraordinary challenges of our time and
the highest ethical calling.
The non-governmental sector
plays an important dual role in this respect. On the one hand, NGOs
foster such an ethical culture in the governmental and corporate
NGOs, aided by their independence and willingness to challenge the
do this via pointing out transgressions, such as human rights
government corruption, or corporate pollution and advocating various
Some work hand in hand with governments, corporations, the media, and
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
in their own activities. NGOs have the responsibility to be
honest, accountable, to give out accurate information, and to not
situations for personal benefit. NGOs have the obligation to respect
person’s fundamental human rights. They must be careful not to misuse
money for selfish purpose and to treat all public assets with utmost
seriousness as a sacred, public trust. NGOs have a responsibility to
themselves with, or stand in opposition to, any particular government
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
according to the highest code of ethical conduct.
session examined the role of NGOs in fostering an ethical culture in
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 Center, Asian Development Bank), and Tunku
Abdul Aziz (Vice Chairman, Transparency International; President,
Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity). Dr. Fowler’s
included a discussion of unethical NGOs as depicted via acronyms such
(Briefcase NGO), CONGO (Commercial NGOs), CRINGO (Criminal NGO), FANGO
NGO), GANGO (Government NGO), and so forth.
Thomas J. Ward, Dean of the International College of the University
Bridgeport presented the Rapporteur’s Report at the Closing Plenary
Dr. Ward also agreed to serve as the editor of the conference
Closing Plenary Session also featured the presentation of several
which were developed by Zia Rizvi, Director General of the
Bureau for Humanitarian Issues. These resolutions, which were developed
basis of the conference sessions, were presented to those gathered for
general approval and were prepared for distribution the general WANGO
membership for approval, prior to being released to the public.
Annual Conference 2003 featured four special symposia.
first special symposium, Trafficking in
Women and Children in Asia, dealt with a problem of pressing
importance, and is an arena in which NGOs have helped to shed a lot of
and have as brought effective pressure on legislative, legal and law
in people, largely women and children, for forced labor and commercial
one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity.
Trafficking in humans is now considered the third largest source of
crime after drugs and arms.
both scope and numbers, such trafficking in women and children has
dramatic global increase in recent years, in parallel with the process
globalization. In essence, this crime against humanity involves the
immoral recruitment, transport, or sale of women and children for
exploiting their labor. While numbers are difficult to obtain, the U.S.
Department estimates that a minimum of 700,000 people are trafficked
and that the number may exceed 2 million, with the vast majority of
victims being women and children.
Southeast Asia, there has been observed not only an increase in the
trafficked women and children, but also a decrease in the average age
victims. A slavery-like process, trafficking may involve bonded
labor, forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced marriages, and
Traffickers use such tactics as threats or use of physical force,
isolation, and/or debt bondage to control the women and children.
Director Kul Gautum describes the trafficking of women and children
as “the largest slave trade in history.” He notes that in Asia and the
alone, “more than 30 million children have been traded over the last
decades,” with victims usually being teenage girls.
special symposium examined this crime against humanity, as experienced
and explored the role that NGOs play, and can play, in prevention
providing assistance to the victims, and improving law enforcement and
by Sudarat Sereewat of Thailand
(Director, Fight Against Child Exploitation; founding member, End Child
Prostitution in Asian Tourism), this session also included informative
heart wrenching presentations by Dr.
Jyotsna Chatterji of India (Director Joint Women’s Programme,
Study and Research Center), and Nop
Saren Sreyroth of Cambodia (Monitoring Coordinator, Cambodian
second special symposia, Towards and
Inter-religious Council at the United Nations, dealt with a new
to establish a special body at the United Nations. The events of
2001 highlighted the serious consequences of human discord and the need
more comprehensive approach to our global challenges, whether terrorism
other “problems without passports.” The
United Nations, at 58 the longest surviving multi-national,
organization in history, represents a critically important hope for
such serious global challenges. Established by nation-states, it is now
increasingly challenged with the task of policing conflicts that are
between nation-states, but rather between groups of people within
well as groups that transcend states.
Traditionally, issues of peace and
been dealt with at the level of nation-states, via military, political,
diplomatic and intelligence-gathering means. Yet, as September 11 also
to the fore, religious and ethnic considerations are utmost issues to
considered in trying to navigate peace and security concerns, and offer
comprehensive approach to serious global issues. Many conflicts have a
religious root. Yet, religion and ethnicity frequently transcend
borders, unlike the nation-states that make up the United Nations.
religions offer a new perspective on issues of fundamental important. Contributions from this arena can offer a
lot toward addressing current global crises.
This symposium dealt with one particular
try to assist and complement the work of the United Nations through the
formation of an inter-religious council. Spearheaded by the
International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), such a council would
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
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).
third special symposia, Microcredits and
NGOs, dealt with an issue that has gained increased prominence in
years as a means for enabling poor people to start small businesses. In
particular, many poor women have taken advantage of such programs.
are financial transactions in very small amounts, in other words, small
to budding entrepreneurs among historically underserved and
communities and social groups. Such loans have to be repaid, including
interest, thus requiring the need to engage in financial activities
assure repayment. Microcredit programs have been credited with reaching
million women around the world, allowing women who would not qualify
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
local, national and international financial institutions to the
borrowers. This symposium examined the merits and challenges of
programs and what roles NGOs can or should play in assisting the poor
disenfranchised via such means.
Dr. D. S. K. Rao (Asia Organizer, Microcredit Summit
Campaign) and his wife, Shiela Rao (Technical
of Regional Organiser for Asia, Microcredit Summit Campaign) addressed
session, which was chaired by Mr.
Richard Zeif (United Nations Representative, International
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
natural or man-made disasters, including as the result of conflict
victims of war or internal violence). Humanitarian aid may include
such basic human needs as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care, as
empowering them to better address their situation. Of course, at times
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
Afghanistan, and cooperation with intergovernmental and governmental
in providing such relief.
by Mr. John Dickson (Co-Founder,
World Trade Center Kabul; Vice President, Afghan Development and
Group), speakers included Zia Rizvi
(Director General, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues) and Ochoro E. Otunnu (Executive Director,
Africa AIDS Iniative).
Ten practical workshops were
featured at WANGO Annual Conference 2003. While participant reflections
conference in general were overwhelmingly positive, these 10 workshops
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,
Fundraising, Philippines). This comprehensive presentation offered a
fundraising overview and an examination of key fundraising pricnipels,
covered such areas as various sources of NGO income, the development of
strategic fundraising plan, and development of a winning grant proposal.
Rachel Peterson (who
has 16 years of international development
experience in training, facilitation, management, organizational
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
can better plan for, recruit, hire and manage staff, so as to ensure
organization is more competitive and efficient, and also examined how
to move from
a current crisis or reactive orientation to a more forward planning,
William Lester (Chief Technology Officer, NinthBridge)
offered two workshops dealing
with technology. One was Utilizing the
New Technologies for Non-Profits
and examined some of the tools of technology and new media that have
transformed nonprofit organization and looked at the process of
these tools into a culture that has traditionally been used to “making
showed NGOs how to take advantage of the wealth of new technologies
and how to effectively determine and prioritize their technology needs.
workshop’s focus on low resource environments, where electricity and
can be a challenge, and where Internet connectivity can be expensive
unreliable, was a plus for many attendees. The second workshop offered
William Lester was The Art of
Establishing Working Partnerships Among NGOs. This workshop
review of experiences with NGO partnerships and collaborations,
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
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
to grantmaking foundations, associations of foundations, and
support centers in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.
manages a research program on grantmaking foundations, and worked as
Foundation representative in Southeast Asia, Mexico and Central America. In
this workshop, strategies were explored for strengthening NGO
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
theory to practice, including presentation of inspiring realities of
building on the ground in the Middle East despite the on-going conflict.
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
used in 39 countries since 1955 for working with diverse community
especially for working in rural areas where lack of literacy or
make facilitation challenging. Participants received an overview on how
methods work and walked away with at least one of the methods to be
able to use
within 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
(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
the accreditation process for attaining consultative status with the
and Social Council and establishing an association with the U.N.
The 2003 WANGO Awards
Banquet, held on the evening of September 27 in the Amari Watergate
was one of the highlights of the Annual Conference. Three awards were
NGOs selected by the Awards Committee for their outstanding service and
exceptional contributions to society, in many cases against significant
The 2003 WANGO Environment Award
was presented to the Green Belt Movement (GBM).
1977 by Dr. Wangari Maathai and the National Council of Women of Kenya,
Green Belt Movement (GBM) has become one of the world’s most successful
programs to combine environmental protection and community development.
its humble beginning as a small tree nursery in Dr. Maathai’s own back
the GBM has grown into a force of more than 150,000 Kenyans, 6,000
groups and 5,000 grassroots nurseries. More than one million volunteers
been involved since the program’s inception, mostly youth, and over 20
trees have been planted on farms, school property, church compounds,
public and private sites.
The GBM was created out of
the vision of Dr. Wangari Maathai, who is internationally renowned for
persistent work for democracy, human rights and environmental issues.
the decision to present the Green Belt Movement with the WANGO
Award 2003, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the
consistent and courageous commitment of the Green Belt Movement and Dr.
Maathai to the values of sustainability and the protection of the
environment, in spite of serious obstacles and even physical assault.
has become a worldwide symbol of what can be accomplished by committed
individuals with a vision. The promotion of peace trees – tree planting
method of conflict resolution within and between communities – is a
particularly inspiring initiative. The GBM is an exemplar of the “Think
– Act Locally” approach to systematic change, and of a holistic
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
The 2003 WANGO Peace
& Security Award was presented to Women in Security,
Management and Peace (WISCOMP).
WISCOMP is a unique, timely,
and important initiative for enhancing the participation and
efficacy of women in conflict resolution, peace building, and
relations. Established by The Foundation for Universal Responsibility
Holiness The Dalai Lama, and reflecting the vision and unwavering
The Dalai Lama, WISCOMP has grown to become one of the premier bodies
promoting the national, regional, and global leadership of Asian women
areas of peace, security, and regional cooperation. The Foundation for
Universal Responsibility was established with the Nobel Peace Prize
given to the Dalai Lama.
With its large, committed,
and effective network drawn from academia, the media, government, and
WISCOMP works to ensure that the unique resources, skills, and
that women can bring to peace building are adequately recognized and
encouraged, and provides the context for the development of their
skills for non-violent engagement and conflict negotiation. From their
position of “invisibility” in security and international affairs, women
supported to become not only more visible but to increase their
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
Council was most impressed with WISCOMP’s commitment to carving out a
meaningful space for women in conflict resolution and its
advancing the leadership of Asian women in the areas of peace and
WISCOMP is a timely initiative, which accords closely with a recent
the United Nations Security Council to involve more women in
conflict resolution. WANGO is especially pleased by their regional
particularly since the South Asia region holds many potential sources
conflict. The WANGO Award should both empower and encourage such
initiatives for the future of our planet.
The WANGO Peace &
Security Award was received by Manjrika Sewak, who is Program Director
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 one of the
Four” civil rights groups in the United States. CORE played a
in so many critical milestones in the U.S. civil rights movement that
history is a large part of the story of the civil rights movement. From
protests against “Jim Crow” laws of the 1940’s to the “Sit-ins” of the
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
rights and true equality for all people. As the “shock troops” and
the civil rights movement, CORE often has paved the way for the nation
Founded by an interracial
group of students who were deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s
nonviolent resistance, CORE pioneered the strategy of nonviolent direct
especially the tactics of sit-ins, jail-ins, and freedom rides. Under
leadership of Roy Innis, who became the organization’s third National
in 1968, CORE reached a new level, and has become a supporter of black
development and community self-determination. With the banner of
and courage,” CORE continues to promote harmony and healing in all
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
and courageous commitment of CORE and the Honorable Roy Innis to the
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
example for the rest of the world. WANGO admires CORE’s dedication to
belief that “all people are created equal” and willingness to work
ultimate goal of true equality throughout the world.
Its goal of establishing the “inalienable right for all
determine their own destiny – to decide for themselves what social and
political organizations can operate in their best interest and to do so
gratuitous and inhibiting influence from those whose interest is
opposed to theirs” – is a noble goal that needs to be supported. Its
record of finding solutions to the most difficult problems facing
bringing about non-violent social, political and economic change for
underprivileged, and standing boldly and steadfastly in combating those
would keep us apart makes CORE one of the great human rights
CORE has brought credit to
the United States and encouragement and support to other parts of the
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
The 2003 WANGO Human Rights
Award was received by CORE’s National Director, Mr. Roy Innis.
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 as
Director of the WANGO
NGO Code of Ethics Initiative, designed to develop standards for NGOs
worldwide. Numerous NGO leaders attended this roundtable, and
toward the development of the code, with many agreeing to continuing
discussions on this initiative.
Two special addresses were offered during the
of the conference. Dr. Pradit offered a welcoming address for the
participants. Dr. Pradit Chareonthaitawee, Vice President 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
offered a substantial closing address, that provided insights into the
human rights internationally, and offered philosophical reflections on
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 are designed to bring governmental representatives and NGOs
together to discuss how they can best work together to tackle
problems. Whether the issue is human rights, environmental affairs,
conflict resolution, poverty, or HIV/AIDS, greater cooperation between
two arenas can advance solutions toward many difficult issues with
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
would be appropriate and mutually beneficial. They explored how
integrate NGO experience, knowledge and expertise into their operations
increase effectiveness in dealing with issues and priorities in their
They also looked at what mechanisms are in place for government-NGO
and how to strengthen the process for government-NGO consultation and
Finally, they examined how governments can develop a new compact with
civil society organizations to treat them as allies, rather than as
adversaries, and thus using their strengths to benefit the citizens and
services. The attendance of government officials from local embassies
United Nations missions helped make these sessions particularly
Saturday Afternoon Panel Sessions offered NGO leaders an opportunity to
on their own organizations and the activities that they are engaged in,
any topic of particular interest. Presentations were made on such
Addressing Poverty in Economically Depressed Areas, A Sustainable Model
Rural Development in the Tropics, Promotion of Ecotourism, Child Safety
Internet, Circumstances facing Migrant Women, Women in Bangladesh,
Women in the
Peace Building Process in Northeast India, Today’s Challenge for
Organizations, NGO’s Role in Reducing Global Violence, Police Abuses,
Rights Violations, Social Development in Cambodia, HIV/AIDS, Aftercare
Prisoners, and so forth. These presentations were offered in concurrent
sessions divided according to the themes of Development and
Children and Youth, Women in the 21st Century, NGO
Security I (Peace, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights), and Human
(Health Issues, Crime and Miscellaneous).
The field trips offered an
opportunity for the NGO leaders to visit local historical and cultural
such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace, and other
well as take a river cruise.
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
by the Secretary General, Taj Hamad, and officers were elected to the
International Council. The membership also approved a change in the
whereby WANGO members in good standing could serve on the various
set up by the International Council. While the general membership
constituted membership of the Nominating Committee, other committees
were limited by the Bylaws to members of the governing council. The
Ghana chapter was formally recognized by the membership, having been
by the International Council on September 25, and 19 newly approved
representatives also were recognized.
the reflections of
the participants, WANGO Annual Conference 2003 was an unqualified
conference was rich in information, presented an exceptional networking
opportunity, had top speakers and trainers, and offered an atmosphere
and hospitality. Among the participants’ reflections were:
I would like to thank
you and your colleagues
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
organizers or the participants.
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.
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.