Thursday, June 16, 2005

UN Millennium Summit 05: Bring your Square Brackets with you!

The Presidency of the UN General Assembly has circulated a Draft Outcome Document for the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly (the upcoming UN Summit on the reform of the UN scheduled to mark on september 14-16 2005, the 5th anniversary of the UN Millennium Declaration of September 2000).

Hard to tell if what is being proposed in this Draft Outcome Document is going to help further the UN Development Goals (known as "the MDGs" in the UN jargon). Except perhaps for MDG 8 "to develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally, etc." In the draft outcome, the "trade/finance stuff" takes about four pages, and the "environment stuff" takes one.

The section on international environmental governance (at the end of Paragraph 99, "system-wide coherence"), is not going very far, to say the least, despite the French government-led efforts of the last two or three years to promote a United Nations Environment Organisation. And if you expect to know what will be the future composition of the UN Security Council, you'll have to wait a bit longer (Paragraphs 83, 84, 85).

IUCN have posted on their website their initial response to the Draft Outcome Document. A lot of NGOs have commented on the UN Secretary-General report "In Larger Freedom: towards freedom, security and human rights for all" released in March 2005. Now, they have an opportunity to provide their views on the Draft Outcome Document, at the Informal Interactive Hearings of the General Assembly with NGOs, civil society organizations and the private sector that the UN NG Liaison Service is organising in New York, 23-24 June 2005.

Assuming that he comes to the Summit, it looks like George W. Bush will be the guest star at the opening of the Summit on 14 September, according to UNGA Resolution A/59/L.60 (Annex I Paragraph 3): "At the opening of the meeting, on Wednesday morning, 14 September 2005, the speakers will be the two Co-Chairpersons of the High-Level Plenary Meeting, the Secretary-General and the head of the delegation of the host country of the Organization" (emphasis added).

Will he come to the UN like a bulldozer as the above pre-Iraq war cartoon suggests, showing the Air Force One heading to demolish the UN?

Everyone remembers that G.W. Bush was one of the very few Heads of State and Government who did not show up at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002.

While he is likely to focus on the conditionalities the US always try to impose on developing countries, someone should remind him that his country is the one that is the least complying with MDG 7, namely "to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes". Charity begins at home.

It is likely that the "clean text" circulating as the Draft Outcome Document" will soon be plagued with amendments, additions and deletions in the form of square brackets and square bracketted text during what is left of the process.

Bring your square brackets with you!

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