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    Press Release No:  UNIS/GA/1637
    Release Date:  29 May 2000
    Millennium Forum Adopts Final Declaration, Action Plan Agenda

    Capping Week-long NGO Deliberations, Document
    Articulates Civil-Society Vision for UN in Twenty-first Century
     

     NEW YORK, 27 May (UN Headquarters) -- Adopting without a vote its final Declaration and Agenda of Action Plans, the Millennium Forum today stressed that the actions of transnational corporations should be regulated by a legally binding framework, and that developing countries should be exempt from implementing the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights from the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It also urged that the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO should became integrated and accountable to the Economic and Social Council.

     The Declaration articulates the views of civil society on the six main themes of the Forum -- peace, security and disarmament; eradication of poverty; human rights; sustainable development and environment; facing the challenges of globalization; and strengthening and democratizing the United Nations and international organizations -- taking into account various alternative platforms of actions produced by civil society during the global conferences of the last decade.  The document has been divided into three main areas:  recommendations for governmental action; proposals for the United Nations; and actions to be undertaken by civil society itself.

     Presenting a vision of a "world that is human-centred and genuinely democratic, where all human beings are full participants and determine their own destinies", the Declaration also notes that “corporate-driven globalization” increases inequities between and within countries, undermines local traditions and cultures, and escalates disparities between rich and poor.  Globalization should work for everyone in eradicating poverty and hunger globally; establishing peace worldwide; ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights; protecting the environment; and enforcing social standards in the workplace.  

     Therefore, the Forum urges the United Nations to immediately establish a Global Poverty Eradication Fund to ensure access to credit for the poor.  In addition to other initiatives, the Organization is also called upon to adopt cultural development as the theme for one of the remaining years of the International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1996 to 2007).  The document also urges governments to address issues related to indigenous people, poor families, the incidence of HIV/AIDS, economic reforms and debt cancellation.

     The Forum also noted that the United Nations and its Member States had failed to fulfil their primary responsibility of maintaining peace and preserving human life.  The Declaration accordingly urges the Organization to undertake a number of measures to reduce the level of armed violence throughout the world, including the establishment of a corps of at least 50 professionally trained mediators for more effective conflict prevention.  It also states that the General Assembly should establish an open-ended conflict prevention committee for rapid action conflict prevention and early warning.  

     Among actions to be undertaken by governments, the Declaration recommends a worldwide freeze on armed forces and a 25 per cent cut in production and export of major weapons, as well as small arms.  To that end, an international code of conduct on arms export should be adopted.

     Recognizing the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, the Declaration calls on the Organization to review its own human rights institutions and practices to achieve balance in the allocation of resources and to adopt binding international instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, older persons and the disabled.  Governments should not neglect one set of rights in favour of another.  Instead, they should ensure all human rights in the pursuit of sustainable development, investment and trade.  Expressing concern about selectivity and double standards in enforcing human rights, the Forum stressed the need for more effective adherence to international human rights standards by the Governments of Security Council members.

     On the issue of sustainable development and the environment, the Forum urges the United Nations to make a global assessment of unsustainable development and its impact on the environment, human settlements and social development.  On the basis of related studies undertaken by agencies of the Organization among others, it should promote a world solidarity fund and, in regulating international financial institutions, ensure that they adhere to principles and programmes adopted in Rio and Copenhagen.  Civil society should adopt and disseminate the Earth Charter as a tool for promotion of values and actions that will create sustainable development.  
     
      Following today's presentation at the Forum, the basic principles and programmes of action containedin the final document will remain open during June, to incorporate issues from “Beijing +5” and “Copenhagen +5” non-governmental organization (NGO) discussions, as well as other international forums.  That would also give NGOs which had been unable to attend the Forum an opportunity to provide their input.  Later on, the final draft will be presented to the President of the Assembly, who will then issue it as a General Assembly document.  The Declaration will be formally presented to the Millennium Assembly in September.

     Held in preparation for the United Nations Millennium Assembly, the Millennium Forum began its work on 22 May.  It pursued the objectives of bringing together civil-society representatives from all over the world, seeking their input on the role of the United Nations in the new century; assembling innovative ideas and creative experiences of NGOs and all sectors of civil society; articulating a vision for the future; and facilitating effective participation of the peoples of the world in the global decision-making process.  The event was held within the broad theme of "The United Nations for the Twenty-first Century".

     Accepting a copy of the Millennium Forum Declaration and Agenda of Action Plans, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said that each NGO usually had its own focus.  Therefore, the conclusion of the document was indeed an accomplishment, as the Forum had been able to attain common ground.  She would transmit the document to the Secretary-General and hoped that it would be well received by the public, as well as by the media and the upcoming Millennium Summit and Assembly, because the NGO voice needed to be heard. 

     Outlining the preparations for the Millennium Summit and the Millennium Assembly, Miles Stoby, Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the Preparations for those events, said that in 1997, the Secretary-General had proposed a peoples’ forum to complement the Millennium Summit and the Millennium Assembly.  Those gatherings of heads of State and government were expected be the largest ever.  The Millennium Summit would be structured in two parts -- a plenary session and a series of informal meetings, during which heads of State would discuss issues in round-table forums.
     
     The outcome of the events was yet unclear, he continued.  It could take the form of a political declaration and the summaries of the round-table discussions.  In his report, the Secretary-General had explored a wide range of issues, and he hoped his conclusions would form the basis of that outcome.  The Declaration of this week’s Forum should be disseminated around the world, and the document would be distributed during the Millennium Assembly.

     Stressing the importance of the work of NGOs, Hans Corell, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations, reiterated the Secretary-General’s appeal to countries to sign and ratify all the existing international treaties.  The growth of public international law would facilitate the growth of a new international system of the rule of law.  International law was the inheritance and the common denominator of mankind.  A task force on strengthening the rule of law had been established at the Secretariat last year.  Recent initiatives included an appeal of the Secretary-General to the heads of State and government to universally adhere to all the international treaties of which he was custodian.  The NGOs should urge their governments to do that. 
     
     Speaking about the forthcoming international events were representatives of the Beijing +5 Review Conference; World Conference against Racism; South Consultation -- Forum 2000; Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders; Annual Department of Public Information Conference; State of the World Forum; youth delegates at the Millennium Forum; and the General Assembly of the Conference of NGOs.  Members of the drafting team also outlined the main sections of the Declaration.  The document was presented by Fatma Alloo of the United Republic of Tanzania Media Women’s Association.

     Techeste Ahderom, Co-Chair of the Forum, also made a closing statement.

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