Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Let the Summit begin...

Watch out:
Air Force One is approaching the UN !

The UN Summit is starting tomorrow in New York.

Hurricane Bolton in New York, opposing the Draft Outcome Document has already done a lot of damage. And Hurricane Bush has not even reached New York yet.

According to Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the list of “summit spoilers”, together with the US includes India, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Russia, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Belarus and Vietnam.

Several environmental stakeholders, as diverse as UNEP, UNDP, IUCN, WEDO or Friends of the Earth (among others) have joined forces in a Green Room, at UN Plaza # 2, the large UN office building across the street from the main UN compound. Seeing such a diversity of organisations working together is an interesting sign of the time. But whether they are managing to be heard above all the background noise is an open question. NGOs have been largely excluded from this Summit’s process, so it is good UNEP and UNDP are partnering with some of them.

A friend in New York tells me that “the atmosphere in the negotiating rooms is not half as cordial as it was at the Johannesburg Summit three years ago.” In Johannesburg Colin Powell (Bush had not bothered to come) was booed repeatedly during his speech, not only by NGO representatives but also by a fair number of country delegates (I was there, I’m not inventing it). So, tomorrow should be interesting.

Will the world (especially the world’s poor) continue to drift because the Summit, originally conceived to give a boost to the UN Millennium Goals on the fifth anniversary of their adoption, was sunk under the too broad UN reform agenda?

Or has Kofi Annan got an ace in his pocket?

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