Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/DSG/53
         16 November 2000
     Deputy Secretary-General Calls for Consideration
    Of Institutional Framework for Global Governance

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement made today in Stockholm by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the Utrikespolitiska Institutet:

    Like Sweden itself, this prestigious body is living proof that influence is nothing to do with size.  We in the United Nations know better than anyone Sweden's long and fine tradition of punching above your weight.

    Indeed, since the days of Dag Hammarskjöld, it has been hard to imagine the United Nations without Sweden.  In all areas of our work, your country has demonstrated engagement and leadership that we often wish would rub off on all of our membership.  You have shown that while Sweden is an island of stability in an unstable world, it is also a bastion of solidarity.  Throughout the history of the United Nations, your commitment to peacekeeping and peace-making, to development and international law, to human security and human rights, has helped much of the world far beyond your borders feel a safer place. 

    You will all be aware, therefore, that this millennium year is an important one in the history of our United Nations.  It has provided us with a unique time for reflection on ways of strengthening the Organization.  Your Prime Minister, Göran Persson, put it eloquently in his address to the Millennium Summit:  he said the powerful message of the gathering should be that we have a future, and we have it in common.

    The Millennium Summit was indeed a momentous event for the future of our Organization.  It could even be called a turning point.  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.  We must not allow the millennium spirit to end with the Millennium Summit.  On the contrary, we must act -- and when I say "we" I mean the international community in its broadest sense.

    It is only by acting together at the international level that we can hope to make progress towards the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration on the really big challenges before us:  poverty reduction, the fight against AIDS, the environment, peace and security and bridging the digital divide.

    Allow me to mention a number of events in the next year or so which will give governments excellent opportunities to show that, when they proclaimed their goals in the Millennium Declaration, they meant business:

     -- 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, in session right now in The Hague, the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  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". 

    I would like to take this occasion to recall that 2002 will not only mark Rio plus 10, it will also mark Stockholm plus 30.  Ever since the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, Sweden has exercised superb leadership in sustainable development and environmental concerns.  You are a key supporter, along with other Nordic countries, of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which traces its creation back to the Stockholm Conference.  And on the very issue of climate change, you are playing a pioneering role.  I know we can look to you to take that leadership even further when you assume the presidency of the European Union in the first half of next year.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I have outlined 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. 

    This leads us to the institution of the United Nations itself.  If we are to strengthen it, we must continue to reform it.  This too was a key concern 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. 

    Here too, I would like to point to Sweden's contribution.  Your very able former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Hans Dahlgren, now Secretary of State, served as a most constructive co-chairman of the General Assembly working group on Security Council enlargement.  Such engagement is essential to ensure that the reform process is driven by the whole membership -- not merely by those countries aspiring to being brought into the Council as permanent members. 

    There are other reforms in the area of peace and security that are just as crucial.  Allow me today to lay special stress on just one of them, with which I personally have been much occupied in recent months.  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 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.

    In the Brahimi process too, we value the support Sweden is providing along with your Nordic neighbours.  Tomorrow in Oslo, I will be attending a consultation on issues related to implementation of the Brahimi report, together with senior officials from the Nordic countries, and senior Nordic practitioners past and present from the United Nations system.  I look forward to discussing with them such issues as enhancing capacity for peace-building strategy development in the Secretariat, expanding our use of fact-finding missions and other related questions.

    I believe we will also look at ways of strengthening conflict prevention across the United Nations system.  This is an area where I know Sweden has much to contribute.  The results of your work to promote a culture of prevention have been available to all since the publication last year of “Preventing violent conflict: a Swedish action plan”. 

    Again, as Sweden assumes the European Union presidency in January, its role in the field of peace and security will be even more important.  We in the United Nations are following with interest the work of the European Union to build a capacity for participation in peace support activities.  I hope our respective institutions can look forward to expanded collaboration and exchanges of information. 

    It is also important to emphasize that the increase in resources for the United Nations peace operations should not come at the expense of the resources needed for development. I know Sweden strives to ensure that both these central pillars of the United Nations work are strengthened.  As one of the world's doyens of development assistance, I hope you will also be able to help reassure the developing countries accordingly. 

    The Millennium Declaration makes it very clear that increased resources are needed on both fronts.  It calls on the industrialized 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 industrialized 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. 

    Finally, ladies and gentlemen, let me suggest to you that the agenda given us by the Millennium 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, acknowledge the very important role of non-governmental bodies, whether private companies or civil society organizations. 

    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.  So, apparently, do some of the biggest companies in Sweden.  I am proud to say we count ABB, Ericsson and Volvo among our Global Compact partners. 

    As I hope the compact, the Brahimi process and other initiatives will illustrate, it may not be necessary to create new institutions.  It is necessary to put renewed thought and political effort into making the institutions we already have more representative, more effective and more relevant to the specific demands and issues of our time.

    On that timeless point, ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have reached the end of my speaking time.  But I should be most interested to hear your comments.  And I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.  Tack så mycket, allesamman.

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