More than 2,500 non-governmental organizations gather at UN for annual session
At least 2,500 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York for an annual conference that this year focused on the theme of fostering partnerships for security and sustainable development.
Raymond Sommereyns, Director of the Outreach Division in the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which sponsored the three-day event, said participants had come armed with specific examples of “effective partnerships to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” – a set of international targets for eradicating poverty and other global ills by 2015.
“We have such huge tasks now that I sometimes ask myself, ‘Will we make it?’ ” General Assembly President Jan Eliasson told the gathering. He said those present faced a “huge test of multilateralism” and pointed to the need to prove that “working together, creating international structures, creating strong and effective international cooperation, strengthening the United Nations, is a good thing for the world.”
For that reason, reform of the UN was critical, said the President, whose term ends in five days when a new leader of the 192-member Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, takes up her position. Mr. Eliasson has presided over an unprecedented reform effort over the past year, during which time the scope of what the UN addresses has been expanded and the organizational structures used to achieve its ends have been reformed.
Looking around the room, he said the NGOs had worked with the UN “at the barricades together” on such issues as AIDS, disability and disarmament. “We need your voices; we need your contribution,” he stressed. “I want you to feel that you are partners with us in the work on development, security and human rights, and the basic pursuit that we must work for a life of dignity for all.”
A number of representatives of governments and NGOs also addressed the opening session, which was held in the morning. In the afternoon, panellists discussed the theme “Moving Development Forward.”