|For information only - not an official document.|
|25 October 2000|
| Deputy Secretary-General Addresses Fourth Forum on Global Issues
NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is text of an address made today by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette to the Fourth Forum on Global Issues in Berlin:
Let me first thank Minister Joschka Fischer for his kind words, and for convening this very timely meeting. Indeed, the aftermath of the Millennium Summit is an excellent time to consider ways of strengthening the United Nations. It is both an honour and a pleasure for me to address you on a subject which, you can well imagine, is close to my heart.
The Summit was certainly a momentous event for the United Nations -- perhaps even a turning point in its history. It allows us to start the new century with the great advantage of having a set of principles on which everyone agrees -- principles firmly rooted in the Charter, but which reflect the realities of today.
Kofi Annan said in his Millennium Report that "we must put people at the centre of everything we do", and that thought runs through the Millennium Declaration which the Summit adopted. In it, the world's leaders have articulated a clear vision of their priorities: attacking poverty, ending conflict, protecting the environment.
They affirmed, moreover, that the United Nations "is the indispensable common house of the entire human family", and by coming to New York in such large numbers they showed that they meant it.
Such a declaration is very important, but it is a beginning, not an end. It gives us a formidable agenda of work to do. If we were to rest now, we should utterly betray its spirit. On the contrary, we must act -- and when I say "we" I mean the international community in its broadest sense.
Much needs to be done at the national level, in every country. But strong action is also needed at the international level. There are many areas -- like poverty reduction, climate change, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and bridging the digital divide, as well as peace and security -- where States and international organisations need to work together to reach the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration.
I would remind you, in particular, that the Declaration calls on the industrialised countries to grant duty- and quota-free access to exports from the least developed countries; to provide deeper and faster debt relief; and to give more generous development assistance. Since the Declaration was adopted unanimously, the leaders of the industrialised world have associated themselves with that call. We must assume, therefore, that they intend to respond to it. After all, not only do they have a human obligation to show solidarity with the developing countries: it is also in their interest to help those countries become full partners in the new global economy.
-- The United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, which will be hosted by the European Union in Brussels next May;
-- The high-level intergovernmental event on Financing for Development;
-- The special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS;
-- The Conference on Small Arms;
-- And, just three weeks from now, the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in The Hague. I hope this will give new impetus, in as many countries as possible, to the process of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, so that it can come into force by the tenth anniversary of the Rio Conference in 2002, fulfilling one explicit aim of the Millennium Declaration.
We all have a responsibility, if I may borrow the Declaration's language once more, to "preserve and pass on to our descendants … the immeasurable riches provided to us by nature". Besides increasing the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I hope the approach of "Rio+10" will remind us all of the broader ecological threats to human welfare.
But we still lack a full and detailed evaluation of those threats. That is one of the main purposes of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which we plan to launch next year. This too, however, -- as the Secretary-General pointed out in his Millennium Report -- depends on financial backing from Member States.
Those, Ladies and Gentlemen, are only some of the opportunities for concerted action that will present themselves in the next year or so. But if we manage to use all of them productively, we shall have done a great deal to reinforce the credibility of the United Nations, as a forum in which the whole human species can come together and make progress on issues affecting its common welfare.
But now let me turn to the institution of the United Nations itself. If we are to strengthen it, we must continue to reform it. This too was a major theme of the Millennium Summit. Reform of the Security Council, in particular, was called for by almost every speaker -- and with reason. It is vital for the security of all of us that that body be equipped to carry out its awesome responsibilities more effectively, and that it enjoy greater legitimacy in the eyes of all the world's peoples.
I know many people hope and expect that one aspect of that reform would be to bring this country into the Council as a permanent member. Perhaps not all Germans share that hope, for indeed membership of the Council is more a burden than a privilege. But we can all be grateful to those Germans who do feel that their country, being one of the most prosperous and successful in the world, should make a greater contribution to international peace and security.
Other reforms, however, are no less important. Forgive me if today I lay special stress on just one of them, with which I personally have been much occupied in recent weeks, and which I believe is absolutely crucial in this same area of peace and security. I refer, of course, to the implementation of the Brahimi Report on the future of United Nations peace operations.
These operations -- many of them far more complex than peacekeeping as traditionally understood -- can make the difference between life and death for millions of our fellow human beings. It is by their success or failure, more than any other of our activities, that the United Nations tends to be judged.
The Brahimi Panel, thanks not least to the invaluable contribution made by General Klaus Naumann, set out with unprecedented clarity the reforms that are needed to strengthen the United Nations capacity to conduct these operations. And the Secretary-General has now issued his own first report on ways to implement the Panel's recommendations. In that report we provide Member States with a detailed action plan, and we ask for an emergency increase in the resources available for peacekeeping. Those resources are not insignificant, but if Member States are serious in demanding better service from the United Nations in this area -- as nearly all of them assure us they are -- then they must also be serious about providing us with the means to do it.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me suggest to you that the agenda given us by the Summit obliges us to look beyond the organs of the United Nations as defined by the Charter, and consider the overall institutional framework of global governance. The new global economy offers many exciting opportunities, but it also has its pitfalls and its victims. Do we have the right systems in place to manage such problems as the volatility of capital movements, the rise of electronic fraud, or the use of the internet to transmit child pornography across national borders? I suspect we do not, and I also worry whether the institutions that do take decisions affecting the global economy have all the necessary qualifications.
No one disputes that we face a range of global challenges. Nor does anyone doubt that these challenges affect the lives and interests of people in poor countries -- who, alas, form a large and growing majority of the human race -- quite as much as those who live in rich ones. Yet it seems that in many areas our collective response to these challenges is formulated not in institutions where all humanity is represented, but in more select and often haphazard gatherings of the most powerful leaders.
I am not making a case for world government, or suggesting that governments at any level have all the answers. On the contrary, I think any new framework we come up with must, to be credible at all, offer a much bigger role to non-governmental bodies, whether private companies or civil society organisations.
Already, such non-State actors wield enormous influence. But the formal structure of international society fails to reflect this -- and one result is that these influential actors are often not as accountable as they should be.
It was with that in mind that the Secretary-General proposed his now famous "global compact" - an initiative intended to promote corporate social responsibility and citizenship in the new global marketplace. The compact seeks to do this by using the convening power of the United Nations to bring together private corporations, labour unions and non-governmental organizations in support of key international principles drawn from documents agreed by governments at the global level. It is only one small example, but I believe it points us in the right direction.
It may not be necessary to create new institutions. But more thought and much political effort is needed to make the institutions we already have more representative, more effective, and more relevant to the specific demands and issues of our time.
On that broad theme, Ladies and Gentlemen -- and indeed on any of the themes I have broached in the last quarter of an hour -- I should be most interested to hear your comments. And I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.
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