Millennium NGO Forum
"The UN for the 21st Century"
The Chair, UN Reform, in Consultation with Representatives of CONGO,
DPI/NGOs, Consultative NGOs and Selected Networks
15 July 1998
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 120, New York, NY 10017-1822 USA
E-mail: email@example.com / Fax: 212-803-2561
In its resolution 52/12B of 19 December 1997, the "General Assembly recognized the need to consider changes within the United Nations of a more fundamental nature than those encompassed by that resolution, and invited the Secretary General to elaborate further his proposals in that regard."
It may be recalled that the UN Secretary General, in his report to the GA (A/52/850), said that : "the year 2000 constitutes a unique and symbolically compelling moment for Member States to articulate and affirm an animating vision for the United Nations in the new era." The Secretary General proposed that the session of the General Assembly in the year 2000 be designated "The Millennium Assembly," and that it include a summit segment that could be called "The Millennium Summit" where Heads of State and Government would be expected to participate. Moreover, he also proposed that Millennium NGO Forum be held in conjunction with the Assembly. The Secretary General also suggested that "member states consider convening a ministerial-level Special Commission to examine the relations among the various component parts of the United Nations system."
1.2. Objectives of the Millennium Summit
According to the Secretary General, "The Millennium Summit would be asked to provide guidance to the Organization for meeting the challenges of the new century." Consultation would focus on the following questions:
1.2.1 "What kind of United Nations do Member States desire?"
1.2.2 "What substantive objectives are they prepared to support?"
1.2.3 How should the United Nations relate to the growing number of "international institutions," an "increasingly robust global civil society," and "ever more integrated global markets and systems of production?"
1.3 Mechanisms for Achieving the Objectives
The Secretary General has proposed that he prepare a report on the Millennium Assemblyís theme, "The United Nations in the twenty-first century" and submit it to Member States by midsummer of the year 2000. This report would be acted upon by the Millennium Summit of the fifty-fifth session of the UN General Assembly.
The Secretary General also plans to organize a series of informal events to be "convened in various regional centers around the world." These events are to be organized in close cooperation with Member States and would involve, in addition to member States, representatives of NGOs and other members of civil society.
1.4 Focus of the Proposed Regional Meetings
The Member States and representatives of NGOs/civil society are expected to consult on the five core areas of the work of the United Nations; namely: peace and security, economic and social affairs, development cooperation, humanitarian affairs, and human rights.
According to the Secretary General, "the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly will be preceded by numerous events of a more specialized nature in the United Nations Ė taking stock of progress achieved in the wake of world conferences, for example, or examining sectoral issues, as in the case of the tenth session of the United Nations conference on Trade and Development. The substantive results of those events need to be considered in a comprehensive manner and their implications for the overall structure and functioning of the United Nations system need to be spelled out systematically. The Millennium Summit and Assembly afford an opportunity for doing so. The Secretary Generalís report would include a synthesis of the major substantive and institutional implications of the prior events for the work of the Organization as a whole."
The Secretary Generalís report would also "draw on the results of consultations that are taking place within the Administrative Committee on Coordination."
1.5 Expected Output of the Millennium Assembly
The Millennium Assembly will be asked to:
1.5.1 to take "stock of progress achieved in the wake of world conferences, for example, or examining sectoral issues, as in the case of the tenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development."
1.5.2 to create "innovative ideas regarding specific objectives of the United Nations should strive to achieve in the decades ahead in the five core areas of its work: peace and security, economic and social affairs, development cooperation, humanitarian affairs and human rights." Human rights will be considered as a cross cutting issue.
1.5.3 "assess, in the light of the process within the Administrative Committee on coordination, the extent to which a cleared division of labor within the system is emerging through a sharpening of the mandates, competencies, and comparative advantages of the component parts." "determine whether the present constitutional framework governing the agencies and their relationships with the United Nations is sufficiently flexible to adopt and respond to the challenges ahead." And
1.5.4 if warranted establish a "Special Commission" to examine the constitutional framework.
1.5.5 prepare a consolidated report for consideration by the Millennium Summit and Assembly
2. PROPOSAL FOR THE MILLENNIUM NGO FORUM
2.1 General Background
The Secretary General has also proposed that non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors organize a Millennium NGO Forum in connection with the Millennium Summit & Assembly.
The Conference of Non-governmental Organizations (CONGO) has during the last 18 months sponsored a series of consultations organized by the CONGO Chairs Task Force on UN Reform. The one-day consultations have focused on UN Reform, increasing NGO access to the UN and the proposed Millennium NGO Forum.
The CONGO Executive Board also had the opportunity in Geneva to brief the Secretary General on the plans of CONGO on the Millennium NGO Forum and the possibility of establishing a liaison mechanism for consultations with the UN Secretariat.
2.2 Objectives of the Millennium NGO Forum
There is no need in this brief statement to emphasize the necessity and desirability of including NGOs/civil society in the discussions taking place about the evolving international order. It is a well established fact that NGOs have effectively participated in the work of the League of Nations, they were present at the founding of the United Nations, and they have been effective partners of the United Nations ever since.
It is, therefore, logical that NGOs play an important role when the mission and future of the UN for the 21st century is examined and the future structure is consulted upon by member states.
The CONGO Task Force has determined that the objectives of the Millennium NGO Forum will therefore be:
2.2.1 to create a forum for channeling the imaginative and forwarding looking ideas and vision of NGOs at the local, national, continental and international levels.
2.2.2 to create an organizational structure whereby NGOs with Consultative Status, DPI NGOs, local and national NGOs, thematic networks, coalitions and other organizations of civil society could participate effectively.
2.2.3 to make the process for NGO participation democratic, transparent and representational.
2.2.4 to establish an efficient system for gathering and distributing information on local, national, continental and international Millennium NGO Forums through the operation of Websites, List Servers and Electronic Discussion Forums.
2.3 Mechanisms for Achieving the Objectives
2.3.1 Hold appropriate local and national Millennium NGO Forums throughout the planet
2.3.2 Organize continental Millennium NGO Forums
2.3.4 Participate in the Regional Meetings proposed by the Secretary General
2.3.5 Hold an Millennium NGO Forum at UN Headquarters in New York, to consider and consult on the reports that emanates from local, national and continental NGO Forums.
2.4 The Planning Process and Proposed Organizational Structure and Tentative Schedule
2.4.1 The proposed organizational structure is inclusive. It will allow NGOs with or without consultative status a possibility of contributing to the consultation on the future of the UN in its main core areas of activities.
2.4.2 Assign Provisional Convenors for the Thematic and other Planning related issues at the 15 July 1998 meeting of NGOs. The provisional list of Thematic issues as shown on page 8 may be enlarged or reduced as needed. The Thematic issues will eventually be clustered around the five core areas of the United Nations. In doing so, due consideration will be given to the consensus documents of the UN-sponsored world conferences, including documents that reflect the review process currently underway.
2.4.3 Establish at the 15 July 1998 meeting of NGOs a Provisional Millennium NGO Forum Planning Consultative Council whose membership will be determined in accordance with the chart on page 10. The Provisional Convenors will be confirmed or replaced by an election at the November 1998 meeting in New York, USA.
2.4.4 A Millennium NGO Forum Planning Consultative Council will be formally established at the November 1998 meeting. This will be followed by the election of an Executive Committee of the Millennium NGO Forum.
2.4.5 There shall also be a Liaison Committee to the UN Secretary General, the membership of which will be decided at the November 1998 meeting.
2.4.6 Hold National M NGO Fs (January-June 1999)
2.4.7 Hold Continental M NGO Fs (July-December 1999)
2.4.8 Hold the M NGO F in New York (May-June 2000)
2.5 Expected Output of the Millennium NGO Forum
2.5.1 to prepare a consolidated report that would feed to the Report of the Secretary General scheduled for mid-summer 2000.