Conferences and Meetings

Conferences and Meetings

CONGO Assembly and the UN

As mentioned in the earlier report submitted by me to the P.S., the CONGO Assembly focussed its attention to the on going activities of the civil society with the UN. In the panel discussion several speakers pointed out the need for closer relationship with the UN. Specially on the following issues of the millennium goals,

- Freedom from want.
- Freedom from fear.
- Sustainable Development: The Environment Agenda.
- Renewing the UN: The Institutional Agenda.
To realize the aims of the above themes, partnership of the UN with the civil society is pre-requisite. As observed by several NGOs, UN Secretary-General has pointed out the importance of not only the partnership with NGOs but also with the multi-nationals. Already several projects have been put into action as part of implementing the Millennium Declaration. Apart from this, prominent Media executives too are being drawn for consultation by the UN. This will assist global media initiative for joint UN Program as HIV/AIDS. In the plenary on 4th WFUNA delegate submitted their report on activities and specially those related to the partnership with the UN. WFUNA had already conducted several discussions with the UN specially relating to implementation of millennium development goals. In these discussions the UN representatives and the NGOs participated. WFUNA will continue the process and will organize an NGO/ Civil Society
Forum in New York on 18th March 2004. As envisaged by the UN 50 percent of poverty to be eliminated by 2015, a brief questionnaire on civil society’s activities for poverty reduction in Least Developed countries was already sent to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC as part of the preparation for ECOSOC High Level Segment of July 2004.

Unfortunately so far only the NGOs based in Geneva or New York have the possibility of closely working with the UN and putting in their inputs for partnership. Some European NGOs do take part whereas others outside specially those who are in the South are left out. With regard to the partnership of UN, NGOs and the Multinational Corporations, although there were positive results, NGOs expressed their scepticism about the MNCs as the latter were more bent on profit motivation and not real welfare.

It was pointed out that the UN need to pay more attention to the NGOs in UN actions. As an example the case of Rwanda and Burundi genocide was cited. If the UN had taken the NGOs to more confidence, and acted without delay, more bloodshed would have been averted- "What is imperative is that those affected silent majority need that their voice is heard" in the world body and rectified. Proliferation of the Nuclear Weapons is another area which came under
serious discussion and blamed the big powers for creating stumbling blocks in proper implementation of the NPT regime. In this regards any unilateral action was criticized. With regard to the North Korea Nuclear Programme, they supported the initiative taken by China to continue the six-way talk. It was the considered view that any nuclear programme in North Korea is neither in the interest of the impoverished nation nor the region as a whole.

Israel was severely criticized with regard to the assasinations and demolition of Palestinian houses and destruction of Palestinian properties. The construction of the wall was denounced. At the same time suicide bombing was also criticized. The Assembly appealed to the UN and the big powers to pressurise Israel to implement the UN resolutions. Special responsibility lies on the shoulders of the US. Harassment of humanitarian activities including medical treatment to the Palestinians by the NGOs was denounced. UN need to assist the NGOs in the occupied territories to overcome
their obstacles.

Despite the laudable efforts by the UN Secretary-General for more NGO involvement, there still remains bureaucratic stumblings to be cleared. In this respect it was brought to the notice of the participants the letter sent by the UN to vacate the small room space rented to the CONGO Board. This is certainly a reversal of the spirit of partnership and an appeal signed by all the participants was sent to the UN authorities for revocation of this letter.

The CONGO Board will continue to inform the member organizations of its activities with the UN through the internet, which will assist the member organization to keep in contact regularly.