Millennium Forum Declaration


Dear Friends,

During May 22-26 at the UN Headquarters in New York a historical event, the Millennium Forum was realized.

For the first time in the human history, the Peoples of the world were called upon by the United Nations to suggest to the governments of the world what to do to safeguard the well-being of humanity.

The unanimous declaration of 1350 representatives of the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Societies from 140 countries containing their suggestions will be discussed by the 188 leaders of the world who will gather at the Millennium Summit during 6-8 of September in New York.

The United Nations itself has dedicated its 55th Session on September 5th called Millennium Assembly for the same objective.

Still nearly 2000 leaders of the world religions will be gathering in New York during the last week of August to discuss the World Peace.

The year 2000 has started with a series of indeed Global Events giving a start to a new global process leading humanity to the promised and inevitable World Peace.

It was a rare pleasure for me to participate in the Millennium Forum observing the harmonious consultation process that went on amongst such a diversity of the peoples.  The first and final versions of the Declaration are presented below.

The Millennium Forum has requested that everyone and every NGO and Civil Society, on the basis of individual initiative, should stimulate their governments to approve the content of the Declaration at the Millennium Summit in order that actions for their implementations will be taken.   Therefore,  the efforts will not only stay on the paper.

With loving greetings,

Dr. Farhang Sefidvash
RCGG Coordinator

  The Final Version of the

We the Peoples Millennium Forum
Declaration and Agenda for Action
Strengthening the United Nations
for the 21st Century

We, 1,350 representatives of over 1,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society organizations from more than 100 countries, have gathered at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York from 22 – 26 May 2000 to build upon a common vision and the work begun at civil society conferences and the UN world conferences of the 1990’s, to draw the attention of governments to the urgency of implementing the commitments they have made, and to channel our collective energies by reclaiming globalization for and by the people.

Our Vision

Our vision is of a world that is human-centered and genuinely democratic, where all human beings are full participants and determine their own destinies. In our vision we are one human family, in all our diversity, living on one common homeland and sharing a just, sustainable and peaceful world, guided by universal principles of democracy, equality, inclusion, voluntarism, non-discrimination and participation by all persons, men and women, young and old, regardless of race, faith, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality. It is a world where peace and human security, as envisioned in the principles of the United Nations Charter, replace armaments, violent conflict and wars. It is a world where everyone lives in a clean environment with a fair distribution of the earth’s resources. Our vision includes a special role for the dynamism of young people and the experience of the elderly and reaffirms the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.

The Challenges

We begin the new millennium facing grave and interconnected challenges. As actors in the struggle for peace, justice and the eradication of poverty, NGOs encounter daily the human impact of rising violence and armed conflicts, widespread violations of human rights, and unacceptably large numbers of people who are denied the means of a minimal human existence. At the same time, new and emerging diseases such as HIV/AIDS threaten to devastate entire societies.

Globalization and advances in technology create significant opportunities for people to connect, share and learn from each other. At the same time, corporate-driven globalization increases inequities between and within countries, undermines local traditions and cultures, and escalates disparities between rich and poor, thereby marginalizing large numbers of people in urban and rural areas. Women, indigenous peoples, youth, boys and girls, and people with disabilities suffer disproportionately from the effects of globalization. Massive debt repayments are still made by the poorest nations to the richest, at the expense of basic healthcare, education and children's lives. Trafficking in women, sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and the flow of small arms promote insecurity. States are becoming weaker, while an unaccountable, transnational private sector grows stronger. A single-minded focus on economic growth through uncontrolled free markets, combined with the adjustment and stabilization policies of international financial institutions controlled by the rich creditor nations are crippling many national economies, exacerbating poverty, eroding human values and destroying the natural environment.

Globalization should be made to work for the benefit of everyone: eradicate poverty and hunger globally; establish peace globally; ensure the protection and promotion of human rights globally; ensure the protection of our global environment; enforce social standards in the workplace globally…. This can happen only if global corporations, international financial and trade institutions and governments are subject to effective democratic control by the people. We see a strengthened and democratized United Nations and a vibrant civil society as guarantors of this accountability. And we issue a warning: if the architects of globalization are not held to account, this will not simply be unjust; the edifice will crumble with dire consequences for everyone. In the end, the wealthy will find no refuge, as intolerance, disease, environmental devastation, war, social disintegration and political instability spread.

We wish to put forward a series of concrete steps to strengthen cooperation among all actors at the international, national, regional and local levels to make this vision a reality. Our Agenda for Action includes steps that should be taken by civil society, governments, and the United Nations.


Poverty is a violation of human rights. With some 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty, it is the most widespread violation of human rights in the world. Poverty exists not only in the developing countries, but is also a dramatic and hidden reality in the industrialized countries. Particularly affected are disadvantaged and underrepresented groups - indigenous people, people with disabilities, women, children, youth, and the elderly. Hunger and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are also highly related to poverty.

Processes of impoverishment inherent in the global economic system are resulting in increasing inequity, social injustice and violence worldwide.

Eradication of poverty has become a matter of urgency. Poverty eradication is not an automatic consequence of economic growth; it requires purposeful action to redistribute wealth and land, to construct a safety net and to provide universal free access to education. We call on our governments, and the United Nations to make poverty eradication a top political priority.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

1. To act as an independent arbitrator to balance the interest of debtor and creditor nations and to monitor how debt cancellation funds are spent.

2. To introduce binding codes of conduct for transnational companies, and effective tax regulation on the international financial markets, investing this money in programmes for poverty eradication.

3. To immediately establish at the United Nations, a Global Poverty Eradication Fund, which will ensure that poor people have access to credit, with contributions from governments, corporations, and the World Bank and other sources.

4. To adopt cultural development as the focus theme of one of the remaining years of the International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1996-2007).


1. To implement fully the commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995, in partnership with all actors of civil society in an integrated and holistic framework. Governments should focus their efforts and policies on addressing the root causes of poverty and providing for the basic needs of all, giving special priority to the needs and rights of disadvantaged and underrepresented. We further call on the governments to anchor the Copenhagen goals in their national statutes and to introduce national anti-poverty strategies that provide safety nets and basic livelihood allocation as a right.

2. To strengthen the entrepreneurial capacity of women, indigenous people and people in the informal productive sector, ensuring access to credit, to enable them to become self-employed. This is the sure way of creating jobs for all and a sustainable way of eradicating poverty.

3. To support the efforts of the poor to keep families together, with particular attention to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups including indigenous people, people with disabilities, women, children, youth, and the elderly. Effective action and resources are essential for those affected by migration.

4. To address the incidence, impact and continuing human costs of HIV/AIDS. To increase spending for health research and to ensure that the fruits of this research reach the people.

5. To recognize the special potential of people with disabilities and ensure their full participation and equal role in political, economic, social and cultural fields. To further recognize and meet their special needs, introduce inclusive policies and programmes for their empowerment, and ensure that they take a leading role in poverty eradication. To urge all states to apply the UN standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.

6. To review, adopt and maintain macro-economic policies and development strategies that address the needs and efforts of women in poverty, particularly those with disabilities. To develop gender-based methodologies to address the feminization of poverty and to recognize the leading role of women in eradicating poverty, as outlined in the declaration of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

7. To provide universal access to "education for all," prioritizing free basic education and skills training for poor communities to improve their productive capacities. We call on governments to increase budgets for education, to reduce the technology gap, and to restructure educational policy to ensure that all children (girls and boys) receive moral, spiritual, peace and human rights education, while acknowledging, through programmes for families, adult literacy and the elderly, that education is a lifelong process. Special attention must be paid to the girl child. And higher education must be attainable on merit and not only on ability to pay.

8. To move towards economic reforms aimed at equity: in particular, to construct macro economic policies that combine growth with the goal of human development and social justice; to prevent the impoverishment of groups that emerged from poverty but are still vulnerable to social risks and exclusion; to improve legislation on labor standards including the provision of a minimum legal wage and an effective social system; and to restore people’s control over primary productive resources as a key strategy for poverty eradication.

9. To introduce and implement programmes to eradicate corruption in governments and civil society at large, and to promote good governance, accountability, democracy and transparency as the foundation for public ethics.

10. To adopt comprehensive, integrated policies so that priorities of such government departments as trade and defense are in line with the policies for international sustainable development.

11. To promote the use of indigenous crops and traditional production skills to produce goods and services.

12. To explore the feasibility of a legally binding Convention for Overcoming Poverty, to be drafted in effective consultation and partnership with people living in poverty themselves.

13. To cancel the debts of developing countries, including odious debts, the repayment of which diverts funds from basic needs. To improve measures to ensure that funds from debt cancellation are spent in consultation with the impoverished sections of society within the indebted nations. To direct international financial institutions to cancel 100% of the debt owed to them and to establish an arbitration process that balances the interests of debtor and creditor nations, with an independent arbitrator who will ensure discipline and transparency.

14. To call the World Trade Organization (WTO) to rectify urgently, the agriculture agreements that put pressure on developing countries to liberalize food imports, threatening their rural livelihoods, employment, natural resources, indigenous knowledge and food production and security in general.

Civil Society

1. To monitor and pressure governments to ensure that all the ten commitments made at the World Summit on Social Development become a reality for all. To assume our own responsibilities to help formulate and implement the national strategies for poverty eradication and to ensure the participation of the poor and marginalized communities. To create or strengthen mechanisms to monitor organizations that work against the interests of the poor.

2. To develop new relations and partnerships among community institutions, educators, scientists, researchers, local authorities, businesses, labor and NGOs in a constructive dialogue and planning process so that all can contribute their best. To pay special attention to those who have suffered most from poverty and to those who have the least opportunity to be heard by others. The poor must see themselves as real partners and must be empowered to enhance and employ their own abilities and resources in order to be of service to themselves, their families, their communities and their common home.

3. To exert our best efforts to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - affirming the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of ALL rights, civil, political, social, economic and cultural - and to join the global movement for human dignity.

4. To improve conditions for decent work, capacity building and participation. To encourage the media to help monitor the commitments that governments have made.

5. To dedicate attention to the special needs of the young and the elderly, especially those from the South, and to provide opportunities for them, including access to information, and all forms of health care and education, which are essential to the eradication of poverty.

6. To direct special action to decrease high levels of youth unemployment to all global stake-holders at local, national, regional and international levels.


The UN and its member states have failed to fulfill their primary responsibility of maintaining peace and preserving human life. Organized armed violence is depriving millions of people all over the world -- 95% of them civilians -- of their lives, and many millions more of their right to peace.

The victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki A-bombs and of the century's other warshave vehemently warned us that the errors of the 20th century must not be repeated in the 21st. However, the killing is continuing. Six million people have died in over 50 wars in the last decade. There have been some successes, but many of these conflicts have lasted for decades with millions of dead. The cycle of violence begins with cultures that glorify violence and warrior virtues, and may be manifest in domestic violence.

Despite over fifty years of effort, no decisive progress has yet been made in eliminating nuclear weapons, still capable of destroying all life on this planet, and the circle of their possessors is expanding. For mainly commercial reasons, there is no adequate verification for treaties prohibiting biological weapons, while knowledge of how to produce them spreads. Rape continues to be used as a weapon of war. Space has been militarized, and space weapons are being actively developed. For the moment, the problem is centered in a small group of eight states that are claiming for themselves the right to possess weapons that could destroy all of humankind.

Disarmament alone is not the way to peace; it must be accompanied by genuine human security. It is imperative that NGOs be included in the dialogue for peace. The world community -- civil society, including younger and older people, and governments -- has the resources and knowledge to move from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.

The time has come to carry out the primary mission set forth in the United Nations Charter, "to preserve future generations from the scourge of war," and to apply the principle of non-use of force, which is fundamental to the UN Charter. Working together, both civil society and governments can make armed conflict increasingly rare and can move, step by step, to the abolition of war.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

1. To carry out the objective of moving toward the abolition of war by practical means, the UN Secretariat and interested governments, or a separate group of governments, should develop a draft proposal for global disarmament to be discussed in a fourth Special Session of the General Assembly for Disarmament. This proposal would be aimed specifically at reducing the level of armed violence throughout the world through continuing improved conflict prevention, peace keeping, conventional disarmament, and nuclear weapons abolition, in a program designed to be promoted by a broad coalition of civil society organizations, particularly youth organizations, as well as by interested governments.

2. To establish a corps of at least 50 professionally trained mediators for more effective conflict prevention, to assist in conflict warning, mediation, and conflict resolution.

3. To authorize, through the General Assembly, the establishment of an international, non-violent, inclusive, standing Peace Force of volunteer women and men to deploy to conflict areas to provide early warning, facilitate conflict resolution, protect human rights, and prevent death and destruction.

4. To draw on legal systems for conflict prevention and resolution, such as those of indigenous peoples which have conflict resolution mechanisms of their own.

5. To ensure that no "non-discriminatory" weapons, such as landmines and sub-munitions, are used by any military force, in particular by any force or coalition acting under a UN mandate.

6. To assist the Security Council on conflict prevention in a more flexible way, the General Assembly should establish an open-ended Conflict Prevention Committee to serve a rapid action conflict prevention and early warning function. It should give the world public, civil society, the UN, and national governments balanced, timely information on potential conflicts and promote possible solutions.

7. To respect national sovereignty and the prohibition of the use of force, which are fundamental in the UN Charter. This principle must not be undermined. In the solution of conflicts, all peaceful methods in accordance with Chapter 6 of the UN Charter must be tried before measures of force are undertaken in accordance with Chapter 7. The UN General Assembly should set up a broad commission to analyze standards for forceful action in cases where crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide are committed.

8. To expand the UN Arms register in order to show production and sale of small arms and light weapons. It should include specific names of their producers and traders.

9. To reopen the Peace Education Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (UN-DPA) with provisions for continuous liaison with NGOs.

10. To establish a humanitarian commission composed of independent experts to work with the Security Council and Secretary General and other UN agencies. The mandate of this commission would be to assess humanitarian needs and recommend protective measures for civilian populations in times of armed conflicts.

11. To establish ready police and peacekeeping forces. Sensitivity and respect for civilians, especially women and children, should be included in the training of all peacekeepers.

12. To establish an annual youth peace prize for signal accomplishments in this field.


1. To promptly carry out their obligations in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons and to ban them. For this purpose, governments should, by the beginning of the year 2001, convene the conference to eliminate nuclear dangers, as proposed by Secretary-General Annan. Governments should immediately undertake to close laboratories that research and develop new nuclear weapons, to de-alert nuclear weapons, and to withdraw nuclear weapons from foreign states.

2. Together with nearly all governments that participated in the recent Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, Forum participants consider that unilateral deployment of nationwide missile defense by any country could have dangerously destabilizing effects and create pressures to permanently retain high levels of nuclear weapons or even to increase existing levels. The deployment of theater missile defenses in Asia or other regions could have serious regional destabilizing effects. Such plans should be relinquished in favor of a worldwide missile launch warning system and a conference to review methods of ending production of long-range surface-to-surface missiles and long-range bombers.

3. To expand the network of nuclear free zones until they cover all areas other than territory of weapons states and to complement that network by maritime measures that close ports to naval vessels unless they certify that they are not carrying nuclear weapons. Civil society should energetically promote all these measures to control nuclear weapons.

4. To initiate a worldwide freeze on armed forces and a 25% cut in production and export of major weapons and small arms, and, to this end, to adopt an international Code of Conduct on arms exports, as the beginning of worldwide build-down of conventional forces.

5. To implement the International Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention of 1997, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, to ban antipersonnel landmines.

6. To establish a commission at the UN to devise ways of stopping the technological development of new and more advanced weapons that create new imbalances in global power relationships. The Conference on Disarmament should also establish a working group on this subject.

7. To establish peace education, including coping with domestic conflict, covering all ages from young children to older adults, at all levels from pre-school through university and non-formal community education. Education for peace and conflict avoidance is essential for moving toward sustainable peace. Implementation of this obligation of each national government should be assured by an appropriate treaty.

8. To increase their efforts to promote and to comply with international humanitarian laws, limiting the methods and means of war and protecting non-combatants, civilian populations and humanitarian personnel.

9. The international community -- civil society, governments and the UN -- has a responsibility to stop promptly any genocide, war crimes, or any massive violations of human rights. All those involved should seek to avoid any confusion between humanitarian help and military intervention.

10. To immediately adopt measures to implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, so that children up to the age of 18 will be prohibited from participation in armed conflict.

Civil Society

1. To give special attention and support to those disabled and injured by violent conflict, to children, and the elderly, and to the re-integration into society of former combatants. Protection of war-affected children in conflict zones must become a world-wide campaign.

2. To maintain the impartiality and independence of all NGOs working for peace, security, disarmament and humanitarian issues from political, military and economic powers and institutions. At the same time NGOs should organically link with popular movements promoting equity, justice, and diversity (such as the labor movement, women’s movements, and civil rights movements).

3. To protect the humanitarian principles that are linked with human rights and reject all attempts to transform the field of humanitarian assistance into a new market open to private companies.


"Globalization" needs defining. To some, it is an inevitable process driven by new technologies in electronic communication and transport, enabling information, persons, capital and goods to cross borders and reach the most remote corners of the globe at unprecedented speed. It is transforming our world into a global village with consequent political and economic changes that open unprecedented possibilities of prosperity to all its inhabitants.

To most, globalization is a process of economic, political and cultural domination by the economically and militarily strong over the weak. For example, the combined assets of the top 200 corporations in the 1960s were 16% of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This increased by the early 1980's to 24% and in 1995 had risen to 34%. In this process not only does the gap between the "have's" and "have-nots" widen, the ranks of the poor are swelling, civil societies are being threatened, pushing an increasing number into extreme poverty, and governments are becoming dependent. The present globalization process is not inevitable; it is the result of decisions taken by human beings. It can and must be redirected to become a democratic process in which the people are at the center as participants and beneficiaries. We, of all ages - in particular our future generation the youth - claim a space for that transnational civil society that even now is rising on the world scene with unprecedented ties, networking, exchanges, and common action among peoples, groups, communities, and organizations. Before us is an emerging new consciousness worldwide that affirms shared values of peace, equity, social justice, democracy, and human rights.

Indigenous peoples are deeply concerned that the on-going process of globalization and trade liberalization is, in many instances, leading to the denial of indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral territories and violating their rights to the security of their land tenure, including their spiritual perspective on land and development, their traditional knowledge, their culture, and their political and socio-economic systems.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

1. To reform and democratize all levels of decision making in the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and integrate them fully into the United Nations system, making these institutions accountable to the Economic and Social Council.

2. To develop a legally binding framework for regulating the actions of transnational corporations (TNCs), respecting the international labor, human rights, and sustainable environmental standards set by the United Nations and its relevant Specialized Agencies. The regulatory mechanism should include the active participation of workers and communities directly affected by TNC operations in order to prevent abuses and to subordinate TNCs to democratic civil authority and community-based modeling of socio-economic systems.

3. To exempt developing countries from implementing the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) from the WTO and to take these rights out of any new rounds of negotiations, ensuring that no such new issues are introduced.

4. To examine and regulate transnational corporations and the increasingly negative influence of their trade on the environment. The attempt by companies to patent life is ethically unacceptable.

5. To move towards democratic political control of the global economy so that it may serve our vision.

6. To recognize and enshrine legislatively the right of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and to acknowledge their sovereign right to their languages, knowledge, educational systems, living spaces, intellectual property and biological security.


1. To recognize that aspects of globalization seriously threaten environmental sustainability, and cultural diversity and heritage, as well as the common good.

2. To exclude fresh water, food, education, health care and other human essential common goods from private monopolization and to regulate them with the view to protecting and expanding the global commons.

3. To educate all people, particularly youth, about the dynamics of globalization and how their behavior, for example consumption and purchasing habits, can affect them and their country’s economy and perpetuate the negative effects of globalization. To support this education with measures to reduce the market practices aimed at inducing

resource-intensive consumption.

4. To protect Indigenous peoples' rights through legislation, in the face of corporate transgressions of these rights.

5. To develop migration policies, both emigration and immigration, in conformity with human rights standards, particularly, to respect the global principle of freedom of circulation for all.

6. To make serious commitments to restructure the global financial architecture based on principles of equity, transparency, accountability, and democracy, and to balance, with the participation of civil society organizations, the monetary means to favor human endeavor and ecology, such as an alternative time-based currency. To give particular attention to eradication of unequal taxation, tax havens, and money-laundering operations and to impose new forms of taxation, such as the Tobin tax, and regional and national capital controls. To direct the international financial institutions to eliminate the negative conditionalities of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs).

7. To reform the international financial institutions (IFIs) and the World Trade Organization to ensure greater transparency and democracy and to support the establishment of a consultative mechanism with civil society. To ensure that the IFIs provide capital for sustainable development to vulnerable people. Sustainable funds could be raised through a currency transfer tax, which could also help to reduce currency speculation, and a tax on the rental value of land and natural resources.

8. To endeavor to stop the globalization of education among children and youth where large corporate entities are allowed to compromise or control the education system and marginalize the role of local and national governments.

9. To exclude from commercial exchange the human body and parts of the human body.

Civil Society

1. To support community self-reliance and democracy by ensuring people-centered, free and independent non-commercial media infrastructures, including community radio, telephone, and personal computers.

2. To support the development of a concept of globalization defined from a polycentric and pluri-cultural perspective, assuming and respecting, preserving and developing the cultural diversities.

3. To mobilize public support and proactively organize periodic conferences on globalization, both nationally and internationally, benefiting from the new and available research of the scientific community. To encourage the building and strengthening of local communities and make their concerns known at these events and through other initiatives.


Entering the new millennium, the fulfillment of human rights is threatened by numerous challenges. The increasing economic gaps and the unprecedented increase in poverty that are the result of the existing world economic order, constitute the greatest and most unjust violations of human rights: the misery and death of millions of innocent people every year. We are witnessing some of the worst violations of human rights, including the use of food as a weapon, in the context of the armed conflicts and civil wars, which have been erupting with increasing frequency. Moreover, civilians are bearing the brunt of the deployment of weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction in such conflicts. We are also witnessing a resurgence of racism, fascism, xenophobia, homophobia, hate-crimes, ethnocide and genocide, which impact most greatly on indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged or under-represented groups; the resurgence of patriarchy that threatens to erode the gains made by women; the persistence of the worst forms of child labor; the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of massive and systematic violations of human rights; the on-going and deepening process of globalization which undermines internationally recognized human rights, labor rights and environmental standards; the continued insulation from human rights accountability of non-state actors, ranging from transnational corporations and international financial institutions to fundamentalist civil society organizations and criminal syndicates; an upsurge of violence, militarism and armed conflict; the increase and growth of authoritarian regimes; and the fact that human rights defenders continue to be highly vulnerable targets of repression in many areas of the globe.

The United Nations human rights treaty regime, composed of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenants and Conventions, is acknowledged to be one of the three core objectives of the United Nations -- Human Rights, Development and Peace. In the 21st century we must make advances on all three fronts simultaneously or we will put our world at great risk.

1. Indivisibility, interdependence and inter-relatedness of human rights

The indivisibility, interdependence and inter-relatedness of all human rights have been repeatedly reaffirmed at the level of rhetoric. However, in practice civil and political rights have been given a higher priority than economic, social and cultural rights, often to the detriment of both sets of rights.

The Forum calls on

The United Nations

· To review its own human rights institutions and practices to achieve balance in the allocation of resources to both sets of rights, and to conclude expeditiously the negotiations on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

· To expeditiously adopt binding international instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, older persons and the disabled.


· NOT to justify neglect of one set of rights over the other; but to ensure that all individual and collective human rights are safeguarded in the pursuit of sustainable development, investment and trade.

Civil society and especially human rights organizations

· To fully appreciate the indivisibility of human rights.

2. The human right to development

Members states, by consensus, at several United Nations global conferences have reaffirmed the right to development as an inalienable human right and an integral part of fundamental human freedoms. Moreover, development is essential for the realization of the capacities of boys and girls. However, obstacles continue to impede the effective realization of the right to development.

The Forum urges

All governments, the United Nations and civil society

· To cooperate in appropriate actions to effectively realize the right to development as a matter of utmost urgency so that the basic needs of all peoples, including indigenous peoples, the disadvantaged and the under-represented, are fulfilled. In this context, the immediate cancellation of poor country debt is imperative.

3. Universal ratification, without reservations

Universal ratification of international human rights treaties, which are the result of already completed international negotiations, is essential if they are truly to provide a common human rights standard for humanity.

Regional and national human rights instruments have a vital contribution to make to strengthening and complementing international human rights standards.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

· To strengthen its technical cooperation enabling governments to ratify human rights treaties and fulfil their obligations thereunder.

· To ensure that no new international or regional treaties be adopted which contravene existing human rights instruments.


· To fulfil their commitments already made in this regard at the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and to set specific time frames for reviewing reservations and initiating national processes for considering ratification.

Civil society

· To continue to press governments to ratify and remove reservations and to raise public awareness of the importance of doing so.

4. National Implementation

The Forum is concerned about the hypocrisy of states that fail to incorporate into their national laws the international human rights treaties they have ratified. Moreover, even where national laws exist, implementation leaves much to be desired.

The Forum calls upon

The United Nations Agencies

· To ensure that governments fulfill their treaty obligations, including their reporting and implementing obligations, providing if necessary, the technical cooperation needed to do so.


· To effectively incorporate and implement the human rights treaties that they have ratified.

· To eliminate prostitution of boys and girls, and the worst forms of child labor.

Civil society

· To draw attention to failures in implementation, and identify obstacles and ways of overcoming them. Moreover, they are entitled to full protection in doing so.

5. International implementation of human rights standards

The Forum expressed concern about continuing selectivity and double standards in the international enforcement of human rights. The Forum stressed the need for the more effective adherence to international human rights standards, especially by the governments of the permanent members of the Security Council and all other members, as well. At the same time, it is essential for international organizations of trade, finance and investment, as well as transnational corporations to be held fully accountable for their policies and actions that impact on human rights and workers’ rights.

The Forum insists that

The United Nations

· Resume its leadership role in spearheading negotiations towards a binding international code of conduct for transnational corporations.

· Ensure that all international organizations are fully compliant with international human rights standards and core labor rights.

· Draft and adopt an international convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities.

· Stop imposing economic sanctions, which deprive people of their basic economic, social, and environmental rights and which make their struggle for survival, as well as for civil and political rights, more difficult.


· Adopt and implement national policies and laws to effectively protect their peoples from violations of their human rights resulting from the actions of such organizations.

· Support and not repress civil society organizations, particularly human rights defenders and others monitoring violations and working towards redress.

Civil society organizations

· Sensitize governments to their obligation to protect human rights defenders.

6. Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Women and Girls

The goal of ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls also remains unmet. The forum affirms the universality and indivisibility of women’s rights as human rights and calls for an end to all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. The forum recognizes the human rights of all women and girls as an unalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights that must be promoted and realized at all stages of the life cycle.

The forum calls on the United Nations, governments and civil society to recognize and assure equal opportunity and full participation of women in all aspects of society, including leadership, the economy and decision making.

The Forum calls upon

The United Nations

· To ensure that gender mainstreaming effectively brings women into leadership positions throughout the system and a gender perspective into all its programmes and policies; to provide gender training; and to strengthen its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls.


· To allocate more resources and create an enabling environment for implementation of their commitments to women’s and girl’s human rights, including promotion of women into decision-making positions, repeal of all discriminatory laws, introduction of effective legislation to prevent violence against women and girls, protection for the full diversity of women, enforcement of legislation promoting women’s and girls' equality, gathering of sex disaggregated data, and guarantee on women’s and girls' rights to development, education and health.

Civil society

· To fully incorporate women into leadership at every level and gender perspectives into all its operations; to hold governments accountable for their obligations to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls; and to act as monitors of the implementation of commitments to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.

7. Promoting awareness of and support for asserting human rights

Forum participants reiterated the importance of human rights education in building a culture of human rights and empowering people to claim their rights.

The Forum advocates that

The United Nations

· Take effective steps to make meaningful its Decade on Human Rights Education (1995 -2004). The historic and economic roots of racism must be brought to the attention of the United Nations World Conference on Racism in order to advance the struggle against racism.

· Focus more attention on the protection of human rights of older persons and adopt effective measures for full respect and implementation of their rights.

· Heighten awareness of the human rights of peoples in disputed territories and conflict areas where freedom of speech and movement is severely restricted.

· Agencies should refrain from exploiting the images of victims in conflict areas because this dehumanizes them.


· Ensure the removal of all obstacles impeding civil society in such activities and advocate human rights education for all.

Civil society

· Continue and strengthen its activities in promoting human rights awareness across all sectors of society.

8. Universal realization of human rights

Human rights will not be truly universal unless they are realized for all, including neglected or excluded groups and groups at risk, notably children, youth, older persons, women, minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, immigrants, the disabled, the mentally ill, the unemployed, the homeless and those subject to discrimination on grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, language, age, nationality, sexual orientation or other grounds. Economic exploitation, cultural practices and other factors continue to impede the realization of human rights for many and diverse groups.

The unequal economic development between countries promotes forced migration to developed countries. The human rights of these economic migrants, especially those labeled as alien or undocumented, are systematically violated without consideration of their significant contribution to the host country economy.

The goal of ending all forms of colonization in the world remains as yet unachieved and the right to self-determination is far from universally realized, especially for peoples living under occupation.

Further, in the context of the right not to be complicit in killings, we call for full legal recognition of the rights of conscientious objectors.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

· To strengthen the existing international human rights system to ensure full recognition, respect for and realization of human rights for all; and implement all those UN resolutions calling for self-determination and an end to military occupation.

· To protect the rights of people under military occupation.

· To strengthen the monitoring of human rights violations of migrant workers and their families.

· To establish a fair and effective International Criminal Court (ICC).


· To take all steps, including affirmative action where necessary, to remedy the continuing neglect of people whose human rights are yet unrealized; and move urgently to sign and ratify the ICC treaty.

· To provide effective redress and remedies for the victims of human rights violations, ensuring that the burden of proof does not fall on the victim.

Civil society

· To fortify its advocacy role in pressing for recognition and realization of human rights for all and to encourage all states to sign and ratify promptly the ICC treaty.


Sustainable development is the recognition that environment and development issues should be addressed in an integrated manner. Agenda 21 also promoted the concept of major groups wherein sectors of society, including local governments, are acknowledged as important players in bringing about sustainable development.

Eight years have passed since Rio, and there is a feeling of frustration by civil society over the slow progress or non-implementation of commitments by national and international bodies. The spirit of Rio is diminishing. The commitment of developed nations to allocate 0.7% of their GNP to overseas development assistance to developing nations has been met by very few countries. The transfer of environmentally sound technology from developed countries to developing countries is hampered by intellectual property rights demands. The balance between environment and development is tilted towards the environmental concerns favoured by the governments of developed countries.

The dominant patterns of production and consumption are being globalized, causing more environmental devastation of life-supporting ecosystems and massive loss of bio-diversity. The Brundtland Commission recommended that sustainable development be considered on an equal footing with economic, ecological and social development. Currently, globalization is giving priority to economic development at the expense of social development and ecological conservation. The effects of such unsustainable development has marginalized and impoverished many, including the owners and custodians of traditional knowledge and bio-diversity, indigenous peoples, older persons, farmers and women. Globalization must incorporate local sustainability. Due to the efforts of some civil society organizations (CSOs) together with some countries from the south and the north, the issue of bio-safety has occupied centre stage in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The adoption of the Bio-safety Protocol late last year is a major breakthrough in regulating the trans-border transfer of genetically modified organisms.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

1. To strengthen its capacity to monitor governments and require their compliance with Agenda 21, their commitments in Rio, commitments made during the CSD meetings, the Copenhagen Declaration, and the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Climate Change.

2. To make a global assessment of unsustainable development and its impacts on environment, human settlements and social development, thereby building upon the studies made by UNDP, UNCTAD, and other UN agencies and CSOS. On the basis of these studies and policy proposals, it should play an active role in promoting a world solidarity fund and in regulating international financial institutions, trade bodies and corporations to ensure that they adhere to principles and programmes adopted in Rio and Copenhagen.

3. To forge stronger partnerships and broader cooperation with major groups, including local governments and those sectors that are actively involved in bringing about sustainable development, especially at the local levels. It should also coordinate and harmonize the policies and programmes of the various UN agencies and bodies to ensure that duplication is avoided and synergy is achieved.

4. To encourage its organs, especially UNEP and UNDP, to actively support the establishment of sustainability centres to advise local governments on the implementation of Agenda 21 in local communities through comprehensive, integrated development policies and strategies. Such centres to be part of international networks for the exchange of knowledge and experience.

5. To support positive action for indigenous peoples and other groups who experience discrimination as a barrier to progress. Such groups include women, youth, children, older persons, people with disabilities, occupied peoples, refugees, minorities, displaced persons and migrants.

6. To establish a Global Habitat Conservation Fund to purchase comprehensive protection of threatened, critical ecological habitat world wide. The fund should accrue revenues from a nominal (0.5%-1.0%) royalty on worldwide fossil energy production -- oil, natural gas, coal -- collecting at least $5 billion to $10 billion annually.

7. To examine how it should restructure to implement the changes necessary to give clear priority to sustainable human development.

8. To encourage UNEP and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create an appropriate legal framework for the protection of marine life.


1. To comply with and implement the declarations, conventions, and treaties they have signed and meet the commitments they have made, including those in Agenda 21. They should ratify the important protocols of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements, including

- Agreements which set frameworks for the reduction of global warming (These should be ratified by 2002) ;

- the Biosafety Protocol; and

- the agreement by donor governments to allocate .7% GNP for official development assistance.

2. To examine their economic models of development for sustainability and strive to restructure away from export-oriented, import-dependent and debt-driven models, if these are unsustainable. To move toward patterns of production and consumption that are sustainable and centred on the health and wellbeing of peoples and the environment.

3. To assess negative environmental and social impacts of unsustainable development and focus on how these could be redressed. Their development programmes should promote sustainable development, such as the conservation of water resources, sustainable agriculture, development of renewable energy sources, and support for the sustainable development knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples, women, and farmers, while eliminating military and unsustainable infrastructure projects.

4. To support the establishment of sustainable development training centres, owned, operated and managed by youth for youth. To support their involvement, especially youth from the South, in all fora and at all levels as integral partners and leaders in these processes, giving them ownership. To encourage the development of a global youth fund co-financed by donor governments and/or agencies and managed by the CSD NGO steering committee.

5. To endorse the Earth Charter in the UN General Assembly.

6. To establish and strengthen multi-stakeholder mechanisms such as National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSDs) to facilitate the implementation of Earth Summit agreements.

7. To promote the establishment of micro credit facilities, especially for farmers and women, and to promote their access to forms of land tenure that facilitate access to and ownership of land.

9. To increase interactions between central and local government organisations for the common goal of improving living conditions in urban and rural settlements.

10. To adopt comprehensive, integrated development policies and strive to enable local communities to achieve self-sufficiency and management of local natural resources, achieving sustainability through land use control and through measures that reduce resource-intensive forced consumption.

11. To recognise and enshrine in legislation the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples, and their right to be guided by their own principles and perspectives, as expressed in their draft declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that has been submitted to the UN.

Civil Society

1. To continue challenging the governments and international institutions to adhere to the agenda for sustainable and social development. It should also monitor the way governments are implementing Agenda 21 and the Copenhagen Declaration.

2. To broaden and strengthen the involvement and action of various sectors of civil society involved in developing and nurturing sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Documentation of best practices by civil society in the area of sustainable and social development should be shared.

3. To enhance networking between civil society organisations and movements. The diverse perspectives and experiences of different sectors -- women, indigenous peoples, farmers, and others -- should be widely disseminated and integrated in the formulation of development models in the local, national, and international levels.

4. To actively promote awareness of the fact that once basic needs have been met, human development is about being more, not having more. Fundamental changes in human values are the best means to transform the culture of consumerism.

5. To adopt and disseminate the Earth Charter as a tool for promotion of values and actions which will create sustainable development.

6. To ensure that an appropriate liaison be developed between the CSD/NGO Steering Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sports and Environment Commission to harmonise implementation of the IOC’s Agenda 21 for Sports and the Environment within the UN system.

7. To welcome the concept and support implementation of the Internet Global Environmental Fund proposed by Global Environmental Action, by which global citizens can participate in funding CSOs implementing sustainable development projects.


A major task of the world community in the twenty-first century will be to strengthen and greatly enhance the role of the United Nations in the global context. Governments must recommit themselves to the realization of the goals and mandates of the United Nations Charter. A challenging task is to firmly protect the integrity of the United Nations, counter the erosion of its role and to further strengthen and augment international institutions capable of implementing and enforcing international standards, norms and law, leading toward the formation of a new political and economic order.

The world community must be particularly concerned over the ongoing trend toward diminishing the influence of developing countries in the governance of international institutions, which will only undermine their credibility and effectiveness.

Strengthening and democratizing the United Nations and other international institutions will require the broad support and involvement of member states, regional bodies, civil society, and citizens everywhere, including young and older people.

The Forum urges

The United Nations

1. To strengthen the coordinating role of the UN General Assembly to ensure that it can fulfill the mandates it already has according to the UN Charter.

2. To make the Security Council more representative of the world. Permanent membership in the Security Council is problematic because it blocks change and fails to accommodate evolving realities. Thus, the UN should begin to phase out the existing permanent membership in favor of a more flexible and accountable system. The Council should be immediately enlarged with newly elected members drawn from the member states from different regions of the world on a rotational basis.

3. To limit and move toward eliminating the use of the veto. The UN must move towards veto restriction. First could be an enlargement of the area of "procedural votes" for which the Charter excludes the veto. The veto must be restricted to Chapter VII peace issues only. It is unacceptable that the veto would apply to matters such as election of the UN Secretary-General. Complete veto abolition should be sought as a step towards the elimination of permanency.

4. To develop more effective means not requiring the use of force to prevent the outbreak of war and other threats to the peace and security of people. This will require a far more institutionalized and analytical approach to the causes of war and the ways to prevent conflict. Among other things, the Security Council must take more action to prevent conflict over raw materials and other basic resources. A greatly expanded Secretariat office on prevention and resolution of conflict is required, as is a fund that can quickly be deployed to mitigate conflict-producing social and economic crises.

5. To make the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the locus of a more effective, integrated system of international justice. The compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court must be accepted by all states. In the absence of voluntary compliance, the Security Council should enforce ICJ decisions and other international legal obligations under Article 94 of the UN Charter.

6. To consider the creation of a UN parliamentary body related to the UN General Assembly. One proposal that should be considered is the creation of a consultative Parliamentary Assembly. Any parliamentary body established at the United Nations should have its membership selected through an election process, and should conduct its business in an open, democratic manner.

7. To act on the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights calling for the establishment of a permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples.

8. To provide a key role in arbitrating between the interests of creditors and debtor nations and in monitoring how funds released by debt cancellation are spent.

9. To recognize and support young people and youth organizations as active participants and equal partners in all UN processes. The independence and integrity of their work must be protected. The UN and governments are urged to support the initiatives and efforts set up by youth organizations themselves.

10. To strengthen information exchange and coordination among international organizations and specialized agencies so that the work developed by bodies like the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights shall be taken into account by the other organizations and bodies within their own policies.

11. To guarantee that international meetings and information documents involving civil society representatives shall be translated into the main international languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.

12. To take measures to guarantee and to facilitate the participation of NGO representatives based in developing countries, Eastern Europe and indigenous peoples.

13. To strengthen the United Nations' contact with citizens by providing increased resources for NGO relations offices throughout the UN system and by enhancing the United Nations network of information centers, as an indispensable resource in mobilizing support for the United Nations among the world's peoples.


1. To increase substantially the regular and peacekeeping budgets of the United Nations. The UN cannot carry out its many urgent tasks without substantially more resources and more staff. This budget could be doubled immediately, to very good effect. The UN’s budget problems have had a serious negative effect on peacekeeping. Additionally, the budgets of UN agencies should be increased to better support their work.

2. To pay UN dues on time, in full and without conditions. UN discussion of global taxes and fees has been stifled by the threat of a funding cutoff by a single member state. This blackmail must be rejected, and the UN must vigorously explore the possibilities of alternate funding from such sources.

3. To move towards creation of alternative revenue sources for the United Nations. The UN should set up expert groups and begin the necessary intergovernmental negotiations towards establishing alternative revenue sources, which could include fees for the commercial use of the oceans, fees for airplane use of the skies, fees for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, fees on foreign exchange transactions (i.e. the Tobin Tax), and a tax on the carbon content of fuels.

4. To ensure that a gender perspective is integrated at all remaining stages of the process to establish the International Criminal Court and at all stages of the proceedings of the functioning Court and that the particular needs of children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities are considered.

5. To extend consultative rights of access and participation to NGOs. Governments should complete the process of extending to NGOs rights of access and participation in the General Assembly and its Main Committees and subsidiary bodies.

Civil Society

1. To support the creation and funding of a Global Civil Society Forum to meet at least every two to three years in the period leading up to the annual session of the General Assembly, provided that such a forum is conducted democratically and transparently and is truly representative of all sectors of civil society and all parts of the world.

The End


(MAY 11, 2000)


The Millennium Forum Declaration
An Agenda of "We the Peoples …. Millennium Forum"
The UN for the 21st Century


At the dawn of the new millennium, we, the representatives of worldwide civil society, see an urgent need to embrace and affirm a bold vision of humanity's future – and then to call for and take action toward its realization.

The vision we put forward is, in its essence, quite simple. All of us, the inhabitants of earth, are one human family, living together interdependently on one common homeland, with the collective goal of establishing a just, peaceful, and sustainable world civilization marked by democracy, equality and full participation for all persons, male and female, young and old, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or nationality.

What distinguishes this vision is its universal nature and its complete rejection of the superiority of any particularistic group. It is a vision of global inclusion.

This vision, we believe, is already emerging in the world. It stems from deep forces in the human spirit and reflects the nature of reality. Other individuals, institutions, gatherings and groups have offered up its essential elements. In its broad outline, it reflects the highest hopes and loftiest ideals of people everywhere. Ultimately, it embodies more than mere aspiration – it is part of an inevitable process and, at the same time, an urgent necessity.

We have gathered at United Nations headquarters in New York for the Millennium Forum from 22 – 26 May 2000 to discuss how to give a new impetus and impulse to this bold and emerging vision. We are 1350 delegates from more than 1000 organizations of civil society headquartered in 1000 nations. Through the networks and coalitions to which we belong, we represent millions of people in virtually every country of the world.

The venue for this Forum is important because, in many ways, this vision of global inclusion lies at the heart of the ideal and institution known as the United Nations. The United Nations has been shaped by, and in turn, has helped to give further coherence and expression to this emerging vision. With its universal membership, the United Nations is the most important global institution in the world today – and its significance will only grow as we increasingly come to recognize our interdependence.

When explored in its totality, this new global vision encompasses those values, norms and principles that have in recent years become widely accepted on paper in virtually every country. The following are among the most important of these principles: that women and men have equal rights in all spheres; that the goal of economic justice for all must replace particularistic interests in global markets; that our development activities must be sustainable and look towards the needs of future generations as they simultaneously seek to eradicate poverty; that all forms of racial, religious, ethnic and other forms of intolerance must be erased from our written and unwritten social laws; and that all forms of aggression must be replaced by peaceful means for the resolution of conflict.

At the grassroots level, this vision has been given voice repeatedly through myriad activities, projects and deliberations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Indeed, it lies at the heart of the NGO discourse at the international level and is the substance of much of the activism of these same organizations, especially over the last decade. This vision is woven into many of the NGO documents that were collectively drafted and agreed to during the processes of the great United Nations conferences of the 1990s.[1] These NGO documents include Principles on General Rights and Obligations;[2] The Earth Summit NGO Alternative Treaties;[3] The Copenhagen Alternative Declaration;[4] The NGO Beijing Declaration;[5] The NGO Statement to the Partners Hearing at Habitat II;[6] The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century;[7] The Seoul Draft Programme of Action: An Agenda for Peace, Security and Development in the 21st Century;[8] The Montreal [i]Message: The Spirit of Montreal;[9]and The Earth Charter.[10]

This vision is also reflected in the global action plans that were produced by the UN member states at these same conferences. This is hardly surprising, given that NGOs played an instrumental role in bringing to the conference negotiations the voices of the peoples of the world and in helping to draft significant portions of the resulting action plans. These action plans[11] outline concrete steps – policies, actions and processes – for the realization of social and economic justice in the nations of the world.

Moreover, a diversity of UN-based studies, including those of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),[12] the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)[13] and the United Nations Research

Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)[14] affirm many aspects of this vision andoffer practical steps toward realizing it. Additionally, a diversity of academic studies and other proposals aimed at influencing the United Nations offer practical yet visionary recommendations for achieving peace, justice and global democracy[15] However, despite this growing consensus, commitment and action to achieve this shared vision are still severely lacking.

The statistics shift slightly from year to year and from report to report but they are, nevertheless, always shocking to our sense of humanity. Some 840 million people remain malnourished, 1.3 billion do not have access to clean water, and one in seven children of primary school age is out of school.[16] An estimated 1.5 billion people subsist on less than one United States dollar per day[17] and some 2.8 billion subsist on less than two dollars a day.[18] And, as of the most recent count, there were approximately 35 armed conflicts raging in the world[19], conflicts largely based on ethnic, religious or racial prejudice.

Put simply, if this great vision is to be realized, what the world needs now are deeds, not words, actions, not promises.

It is to this end that the Millennium Forum has sought to address the following questions: How can this great vision be realized? What are the barriers to its full implementation? And what are the concrete actions that can be taken to move toward it?

The Promise of History

In certain respects, this vision is not new. Rather, it might be said that humanity in the 19th and 20th centuries has filled in its details and established the technological and scientific framework to be able to bring it into reality at long last. For this vision has been expressed throughout history, in prophetic terms, as a golden age of harmony and prosperity, an era of peace and justice for all humanity. It is enshrined, often in symbolic language, in the teachings of the world's religions, from the Biblical pronouncement that "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;"[20] and the Zoroastrian prophecy, "Then shall Evil cease to flourish…;"[21] to the Koranic promise that, "In gardens of delight …. no vain discourse shall they hear therein, nor charge of sin, but only the cry, ‘Peace! Peace!;’"[22] and the Sikh vision, "City sorrowless is this place called; there is no pain or grief in this land…. Everlasting peace reigns here, my brethren."[23] [24] It is also noteworthy that interfaith activities have expanded exponentially at all levels in recent years,[25] and that many of these initiatives have articulated a common vision of humanity’s future, a vision that is grounded in religious teachings of hope, compassion, love, peace, justice and unity. [26]

Aspects of this vision of peace and justice can also be found in the great modern social movements – movements which often originated in civil society, or which only gained legitimacy and strength when they were embraced by civil society. The work of leaders ranging from Susan B Anthony and Mahatma Gandhi, to Martin Luther King JR, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela have advanced this vision. The impulse toward peace and justice can be discerned in a variety of movements, from the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women, to the struggle to throw off the yoke of colonialism, the great campaigns for racial harmony and economic justice, and the relentless efforts to establish world peace.

As noted, this vision has also been advanced in the great, seminal documents of the United Nations. The United Nations was born, with much assistance from civil society, out of the global conflagration that was World War II. Not only did experts drawn from civil society influence significantly the drafting of the UN Charter by helping to express the vision for a new Organization that might prevent such catastrophes in the future, but, as importantly, civil society played a critical role in promoting acceptance of this new organization in many nations, helping to make it known to the general population and to those in positions of influence, thereby ensuring its overall acceptance in these nations.

Indeed, many of the new ideas, reforms, and bold initiatives that we see promulgated on the world's stage have had their genesis in civil society. Increasingly, civil society is helping to set the agenda in international affairs and is tirelessly bringing into public awareness the issues at hand and helping to gain acceptance of and commitment to new undertakings that will move the world community forward. And yet, this should hardly be surprising. For, in an age in which governmental policies and programs require the support of the people who will be effected by them; in which neither fiat nor decree nor fear stand as viable, long-term means of governance; in which legitimacy and sustainability of development initiatives necessitate the people’s involvement in their conceptualization, design, implementation and evaluation – that is, in an age in which democracy is becoming the sine qua non of our collective lives – how could anything less than the active involvement of civil society in all

aspects of organized life be expected?

We have not sought, as the Millennium Forum, to reinvent or recreate the significant and important work that has been done in recent years by governments and civil society alike in seeking to establish peace, justice and unity in the world. Rather, our goal here has been to articulate this vision of global inclusion and then to offer concrete suggestions about how governments, the United Nations, and the peoples of the world themselves can move forward at this moment in history to realize it.

Three dominant trends

As we survey the efforts in recent years to articulate this vision of inclusion, we find that it is informed, in large part, by three dominant trends: 1) the rise of democracy, 2) the expansion of human knowledge, and 3) the recognition of humanity’s fundamental interdependence.

By the rise of democracy, we refer to the entire social, political, and cultural shift that has increasingly transferred power from the few to the many. It is a trend that can be traced back to such historical milestones such as the Plea of the Eloquent Peasant in Pharonic Egypt, the Magna Carta in Medieval England, the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Federation, the American Declaration of Independence, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Its strength and resilience are apparent when measured against the ideological experiments of fascism and totalitarianism that darkened the 20th century horizon.

The rise of democracy has clearly accelerated in recent years and can be seen manifest in various ways: in the end of various forms of authoritarian rule; the increasing preference for states to establish governments through free and fair elections; the rise of peoples' movements and civil society around the world; the commitment of governments to involving people in policy formulation; and the increasing emphasis on transparency, accountability and openness in governmental decision making. It can be seen as well in the proliferation of mass media, including the Internet, which allows for unprecedented access to and sharing of information – both essential components of democracy. It is also manifest in the growing respect for and protection of human rights for all.

By the expansion of human knowledge, we refer to the full range of scientific, technological and educational advances that have accelerated the pace of change and the transformation of society. This expansion of human knowledge, too, has stimulated the first trend – democracy – by making knowledge of other cultures, ideologies, thinking, activities and approaches available, giving people access to a vast amount of information. This expansion of knowledge, coupled with its transmission by various means, whether through the traditional forms of mass media, social activism, education, or, more recently, over the Internet, is, however, a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it promises the peoples of the world a greater share of control over their own destiny and new means for their collective prosperity. On the other hand, the expansion of human knowledge can also be used immorally to create new weapons, to enforce oppression and to promote moral decline.

By the recognition of our fundamental interdependence, we refer to the paradigm shift in our thinking that is coming about with the growing understanding that our lives are inextricably connected as members of a single human race, sharing one planet with limited natural resources. This understanding has been given many names –" the global neighborhood," "spaceship earth," "world citizenship," "planetary consciousness" and the like. It is, indeed, at the heart of the profound changes taking place in humanity’s ordered life.

These three trends are intertwined and propel each other forward. For example, the expansion of knowledge led to the creation of global transportation and communications systems that gradually "shrank" the earth into a global neighborhood that allowed democratic ideals to spread, which helped to foster social systems by which knowledge might be better created and shared, and on and on.

Understanding these trends – these fundamental realities of our age – is critical as we move ahead to identify concrete steps for action by the United Nations and all its partners. It is this understanding that provides the essential context within which the leaders of the world – to which this document is primarily directed – can come to terms with the changes that are taking places and grasp the urgent need for action.

Six Sub-themes

In seeking to identify those issue areas where action is most urgently needed, the Millennium Forum has divided its consideration of the main theme, "The United Nations for the 21st Century" into six "sub-themes": 1) peace, security and disarmament; 2) the eradication of poverty (including debt cancellation and social development); 3) human rights; 4) sustainable development and the environment; 5) the challenges of globalization – achieving equity, justice and diversity; and 6) strengthening the United Nations and other international organizations.

In one way or another, each of these sub-themes has been discussed and analyzed by the United Nations – and the worldwide community of non-governmental organizations and civil society – at the major United Nations conferences of the last decade. Some of the discussions have addressed these sub-themes more explicitly than others. Poverty and social harmony were major focuses – and globalization was an underlying theme – of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development; sustainable development was the main theme of the 1992 Earth Summit; and the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights addressed human rights. The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women focussed on such themes as equality among women and men, family, human rights and poverty.

As a single topic, the sub-theme of peace, security and disarmament has not been the focus of a major UN global conference in the last decade. However, civil society itself took up that challenge at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace. Likewise, globalization has not, per se, been focused on separately; however, its manifestations and effects were discussed to some extent at all of the global conferences, especially at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, the1996 Habitat II conference and the 1996 World Food Summit. And, of course, the topic of United Nations restructuring and reform has been a major topic of discussion in and around the United Nations, especially since the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UN Charter in 1995.

In addressing these sub-themes, the Millennium Forum has sought to summarize the positions of civil society and to lay before the world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit the importance of concrete actions in each thematic area.

Peace, Security and Disarmament

The 20th Century was the bloodiest, most war-torn in history. It was also the century in which dramatic progress towards establishing universal and lasting peace was made. A hundred years ago, it was largely accepted that "war is only a continuation of state policy by other means."[27] Today, thanks in large part to the on-going work and campaigns of civil society and the activities of the United Nations and governments, war is no longer the accepted means by which states and governments resolve conflicting views.

The founding of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, were the most important global actions taken in the cause of world peace during this century. The Millennium Forum gives its full support to the United Nations. We wish to call attention particularly to the importance of "strengthening and democratizing" the United Nations, which will be addressed under a separate sub-theme below. It is our belief that a strong and democratic United Nations, capable of carrying out collective action for peace, remains the strongest bulwark against war and the surest instrument for the promotion of social and economic development in the nations of the world.

Yet beyond the need for strengthening the United Nations, much remains to be done. As noted, some 35 wars, mostly in the form of internal conflicts, continue to rage around the world. And the threat of inter-state war still looms in various regions. The world community must intensify its efforts to advance democracy in all nations – and at all levels. For the greatest threats to peace and stability in the world today are, by and large, not posed by strong, democratic states but, rather, by weak ones where civil strife and internal war are commonplace.

We urge world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit and Millennium Assembly to study The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century. The Hague Agenda was forged in a global consultation over a period of two years by hundreds of NGOs. It was then adopted by consensus by over 10,000 NGO representatives and individuals gathered at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace last May. It stands as the most significant, comprehensive and widely accepted NGO statement on the issues of war and peace yet produced. It is especially significant for the detailed action steps it proposes be taken by governments, organizations, and individuals to contribute to the processes of peace. Among the salient principles and recommendations put forward in the Hague Agenda and in the Millennium Forum paper produced by our Working Group on "Peace, Security and Disarmament," are the following.

- It is time to redefine security to encompass human needs and ecological realities instead of national sovereignty and national borders. Redirecting funding from armaments to human security and sustainable development will lead to the construction of a new social order, which will ensure the full participation of marginalized groups, including women and indigenous peoples; restrict the use of military force; and foster collective global security.

- A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world develop a global consciousness, acquire the skills to resolve conflicts and to struggle for justice non-violently, live by international standards of human rights and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, and respect the Earth and each other. Such a culture can only be achieved with systematic education for peace and world citizenship.

- Promote the active participation of women in all decision-making and policy-making forums. Qualities such as love, tolerance, patience, community-mindedness, and non-aggression must be applied at all levels. We must recognize and engage the capacities of women as peace makers.

- Eliminate racial, ethnic, religious and gender prejudice. Most modern armed conflict is rooted in ethnic, religious or racial intolerance. Such prejudices contravene the reality of human interdependence and must be rejected, whether in the home, the workplace, the schools, the media or in our public and private institutions.

The Eradication of Poverty

Until perhaps a century ago, poverty was widely accepted as the lot and destiny of the great majority of humankind. While all the world's great religions urged concern for the poor, overall, little was done by governments to alleviate poverty – nor was there any expectation that that was a role for governments. Gradually, over the course of the 20th century, our growing sense of solidarity as a single human family and corresponding compassion for the individual led to increasing efforts to attack poverty, a process that accelerated with the great world development programs initiated after World War II, including those of the United Nations and its agencies.

More recently, the 1995 World Summit for Social Development stands out as the focal point for the attack on poverty. More than 115 heads of state gathered to ratify a Declaration and Plan of Action that endorse a new "people-centered" assault on social problems, stressing the need to empower women and marginalized groups and asking industrialized countries to devote more to the most needy, both at home and overseas. Perhaps most significantly, the Summit reached consensus on "the goal of eradicating poverty in the world … as an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind."[28]

Negotiated in a two-year process involving more than 180 countries and the participation of thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Summit’s final documents also stated that human rights, democracy and freedom – which are essentially moral and spiritual values – are the foundation of social and economic development. In this idea lies a dynamic, holistic approach to the alleviation of poverty.

Yet, in the five years since the Social Summit, the governments of the world have, by and large, neither carried through on the general commitments to eradicate poverty nor achieved the specific goals they set for themselves at the Summit.

Civil society worldwide has a long history of action on behalf of the poor. Civil society groups and non-governmental organizations such as those gathered at the Millennium Forum have long stood on the front lines in the assault on poverty.

In considering the various statements and declarations submitted to the Millennium Forum by its civil society partners, including the paper produced by the Forum's Working Group on "The Eradication of Poverty, Including Debt Cancellation and Social Development," and such documents as the Copenhagen Alternative Declaration, the Forum wishes to reinforce the following principles and understandings.

- Poverty stems, first and foremost, from a general failure by governments, society, and individuals to recognize our essential oneness as a human family. Poverty exists only where people are able both to turn away from others in favor of limited self-interest and to rationalize policies and actions that separate people into particularistic groups, whether along national, ethnic, gender, class or religious lines. Only by separating people into various categories is it possible to justify extravagant wealth existing side-by-side with dire poverty within and among nations.

- The overall remedy to poverty must begin with a wider recognition that we are indeed a global neighborhood, and that our concern for others must extend beyond the borders that exist in our own minds and govern our local and national politics and our international activities.

- In the broadest sense, we urge a human rights-based approach that requires that anti-poverty policies reach each and every person, regardless of age or disability, especially those who, because of their isolation or social exclusion, usually remain invisible.

- In this regard, we find the promotion of true democracy, including policies of good governance, to be among the best long-term remedies of poverty. Democracy facilitates the participation of the poor in the conceptualization and implementation of policies and programs affecting them.

- We also find that education for all is fundamental to the eradication of poverty. This principle cannot be over-emphasized. It must be understood as a global responsibility to devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that future generations receive a primary education, with the opportunity for a secondary education for those who wish to pursue it.

- Poverty eradication programs must also recognize this key fact: the majority of the poor are women and children, and no program can succeed without recognizing their special needs, gifts and roles.

- Knowledge – including the processes of science and technology – arises from the processes of civilization itself, whereby we collectively learn from the past and successively build on it as a single human family. Knowledge is, therefore, the birthright of all, and strong steps must be taken to ensure that new discoveries are shared for the benefit of all and not withheld for the profit of a few.

Human Rights

Human rights are those universally accepted principles and norms that must govern the actions of individuals, communities and institutions if human dignity is to be preserved and justice, progress and peace are to be promoted. They are, in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural, Rights form what is commonly known as the International Bill of Human Rights. Through these and subsequent human rights agreements (e.g., covenants, conventions, treaties, declarations, codes of conduct, and global action plans adopted at the various UN conferences), a significant body of human rights standards and law has been built up over the last five decades, dealing with such diverse issues as development, peace, marriage, the administration of justice, the rights of women, the rights of children, slavery, torture, employment, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many of the subsequent human rights treaties were drafted with strong input from civil society. Moreover, among the prime supporters of the international human rights regime have been members of civil society which, among other activities, help to monitor and to call attention to human rights violations, work on the national level for the ratification of various human rights treaties and the establishment of national implementing machinery, and are actively engaged in human rights education and public awareness throughout the world.

The impact of these human rights standards and laws on the world community has been great. Yet, much remains to be done before everyone can enjoy the protection, freedoms and security that these standards and laws promise and people become willing to assume the responsibilities that they imply.

In particular, the Millennium Forum calls attention to the continued violation of human rights in the areas around the globe where armed conflicts and civil wars rage; the continued spasms of religious and ethnic fanaticism and intolerance that afflict all parts of the world; the violation of women in war and in peacetime; and the persistence of poverty, which is an abuse of human dignity and human rights.

The Millennium Forum reiterates the call to realise "all human rights for all" and reaffirms the positions taken at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights and the subsequent global Conferences of the 1990s, that human rights are "universal, indivisible, interdependent and inter-related;" that women's rights are human rights; that efforts must be made especially to ensure the recognition and protection of the rights of children, indigenous peoples, minorities, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and refugees and internally displaced persons; and that justice requires the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, for everyone.

We urge world leaders to carefully examine the paper on "Human Rights" that has been prepared by the Millennium Forum’s Working Group on this sub-theme. The following are some of the main principles and recommendations that this document, and other similar NGO documents, propose.

- The core Human Rights Treaties and Conventions should be ratified by all nations and all reservations should be removed. To this end, we strongly encourage those leaders attending the Millennium Summit to make use of the "special facilities at the Millennium Summit for Heads of State or Government to add their signatures to any treaty or convention of which the Secretary-General is the depositary." We also urge all governments to ratify, as swiftly as possible, all human rights instruments that they have already signed or that they will sign at the Millennium Summit.[29]

- It is of crucial importance that we strengthen the existing United Nations human rights system, as well as national and regional mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights. In particular, there is a need to strengthen the effectiveness of United Nations special procedures and mechanisms on human rights; the effectiveness of the United Nations human rights Treaty Bodies; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (including the field offices of the OHCHR) and its technical cooperation program; and regional mechanisms (where such mechanisms do not exist, they should be created). There is also an urgent need for national governments to incorporate international human rights standards into their national legislation and to establish effective national implementing machineries; to ensure the independence and effectiveness of national institutions for monitoring and protecting human rights (such as human rights commissions and ombudspersons, established along the lines set out in the Paris Principles); and to guarantee the independence and foster the effectiveness of NGOs, peoples' organizations, and social movements to promote and protect human rights.

- Human rights education, both formal and non-formal, should implemented at all levels, and public information campaigns on human rights should be launched so that a universal culture of human rights culture can be established.

- Women and men must be treated as equals. Individually and collectively, we should have no tolerance for violence against women and girls whether in the public or private domains – indeed, we should be outraged at any violation of their rights – and should take appropriate action to rectify any such violations, including punishment, education, treatment and healing.

There must be no retreat from the rights of women and girls achieved in the Vienna, Cairo and Beijing conferences, including their right to reproductive and sexual health. Decisive action must be taken to end the trafficking of women and children, and to combat harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, child marriages and forced marriages.

- The rights of the child must be fully upheld, and special policies should be developed to protect the most vulnerable among the children of the world, including children with disabilities, children in war situations, refugee and internally displaced children, poor or working children, and children at risk of sexual or physical abuse.

- The basic rights of all workers, union and non-union – including the right to a safe and healthy work environment, a living wage, freedom from retaliation when attempting to organise, and protection against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, disability and HIV/AIDS status – must be protected.

- Codes of conduct for corporations, which commit them to ethical labour practices wherever they operate, at home or abroad, need to be promulgated. These need to acquire eventually the status and force of international law.

Environment and Sustainable Development

Over the first half of the last century, the realization of our interconnectedness with the earth's natural environment has dawned only gradually, although there were early conservation groups and movements in the 1920s and 1930s, and many indigenous cultures have maintained a deep understanding of this interconnectedness. With the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the 1960s, the effects of human society's rapid development and its impact on the environment became increasingly apparent. In response, civil society assumed a leadership role in calling attention to the need for environmental protection.

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment proved a rallying point for environmental NGOs and gave birth to a significant increase in the numbers of such organizations. But it was twenty years later during the Earth Summit process that an explosion in numbers and activities of NGOs focusing on environment and development took place. Indeed, the coming together of some 20,000 representatives of civil society at the Global Forum during the 1992 Earth Summit proved a watershed in the development of global civil society in terms of a vastly increased networking and a greatly augmented influence on the international agenda.

Non-governmental organizations had a significant impact on Agenda 21, which was produced by Earth Summit, and civil society continues to play a key role in monitoring and implementing Agenda 21 worldwide.

The Secretary General of the Earth Summit set as one of the six objectives of the conference to produce an Earth Charter: that is, a Charter that would set out the "principles to govern the relationships of peoples and nations with each other and with the earth." The governments of the world were unable to agree on the principles of such a Charter and abandoned the idea, agreeing, instead on the less visionary, less ambitious, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

Civil society took up the challenge and, through a global, 8-year-long process involving input from thousands of individuals and organizations across the planet, produced the Charter that the governments of the world were unable to create 8 years earlier at the Earth Summit. Completed in March 2000, the Earth Charter is perhaps the most extensively and intensively consulted upon document ever produced by civil society, reflecting a global effort to tap into the core values, aspirations and hopes of the world's peoples in giving shape to a sustainable future.

The preamble to the Charter is especially significant for its recognition of our fundamental interdependence. "We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future," it says. "As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations."

We urge world leaders to read carefully the Earth Charter. At the same time, we wish to present here some key ideas and principles from it and from other recent civil society documents and consultations, including the paper produced by the Millennium Forum's Working Group on "Sustainable Development and the Environment."

- The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable. [30]

- We must form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that, when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.[31]

- Decision-making structures need to assure the following: access to information about the health and environmental impacts of products and production processes and participation by consumers and citizens in related areas of decision making; the right to know and to participate in decision making by local communities whose livelihoods are affected by global trade and investment patterns; effective mechanisms to ensure that abuse of corporate power is countered; and democratization of decision making within corporations

- In order to insure human health globally, for current and future generations, governments need to address the following environmental issues: treatment and prevention of global warming; hazardous waste, including nuclear, chemical and biological materials; contamination of fresh water supplies; ocean pollution; contamination of air quality; deforestation; and desertification.

- The dramatic new technologies which possess the power of self-sustaining replication, biological alteration, and/or widespread and uncontrolled entry into the environment – we refer primarily to new techniques of biotechnology and genetic manipulation but include here also the proliferation of so-called "nano-technology" and computer viruses in the future – must be pursued only under strong ethical guidelines which take as their primary goal the benefit of the entire human family.

The Challenges of Globalization

The challenges posed by globalization, like the environment, were not widely recognized as issues on the world scene until recently. Looking back, however, it is clear that the process of globalization is one that has been an increasing force for change and transformation in human society for more than a century.

In its broadest sense, globalization might be seen as beginning with the steamship, the railroad, and the wireless, and rapidly accelerating with the arrival of the airplane, the television and the Internet, and all other technologies that have shrunk our world into a global neighborhood.

The international community has yet to define precisely the term globalization, although some define it purely in economic terms.[32] Consensus has, however been reached on several of the characteristics of globalization, as can be seen, for instance, in numerous passages from the global action plans from recent UN conferences, including the following from the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development of the World Summit for Social Development (#14):

"Globalization, which is a consequence of increased human mobility, enhanced communications, greatly increased trade and capital flows, and technological developments, opens new opportunities for sustained economic growth and development of the world economy, particularly in developing countries. Globalization also permits countries to share experiences and to learn from one another's achievements and difficulties, and promotes a cross-fertilization of ideals, cultural values and aspirations. At the same time, the rapid processes of change and adjustment have been accompanied by intensified poverty, unemployment and social disintegration. Threats to human well-being, such as environmental risks, have also been globalized. Furthermore, the global transformations of the world economy are profoundly changing the parameters of social development in all countries."

As with any process of change, there are negative effects, and the acceleration in recent years of the processes of globalization has given rise to a wide range of such negative consequences, effecting especially the most vulnerable in our societies.

Such negative effects range from the accumulation of vast riches by a small minority while more people fall into poverty than ever before in history; the spread of HIV/AIDS and other global pandemics; the proliferation of the arms trade; the entrenchment of global syndicates of organized crime; the globalization of sex slavery and trafficking; the world-wide networking of illicit drug distribution; the transnational spread of environmental problems; economic dislocations (e.g., increasing unemployment and poverty) caused by various economic factors, from currency speculation and debt repayment to imbalances in the rules of global trade; the global refugee crisis, fueled mainly by environmental degradation and war; the loss of control of community processes; and a sense of powerlessness in the face of global forces.

Yet, there are a great many positive, civilization-changing effects that are the result of globalization and which can not be ignored. Among these benefits are the codification and promulgation of a common standard of human rights for the entire human family; an emerging regime of international law covering most areas of human endeavor, from environment, species protection and the use of the global commons, to human rights, trade and commerce; agreement on the basic principles and policies for the establishment of social and economic justice in the nations of the world, as crafted in the global action plans of the major UN conferences of the 1990’s; the promulgation and increasingly widespread acceptance of the principles of equality and partnership among women and men; the establishment of universal standards of weights and measures not only in commercial areas such as banking, aviation and shipping, but also in scientific and technological fields such as meteorology, geography and mechanics; the irresistible march of democracy across the planet (democracy is now taking root not only at the national level, but increasingly, at the local as well); the unprecedented expansion in human knowledge and the equally unparalleled sharing of ideas, experiences, aspirations, knowledge and insights by people from across the planet; increasing travel, communication and cultural interaction and sharing, and the corresponding growth of understanding, tolerance and appreciation of others, including across religions, races, ethnic groups, classes and nations; the increasing sense of world citizenship; the explosion of scientific, technological and medical cooperation and sharing across borders; and the dramatic rise in the number and influence of organizations of civil society.

Clearly then, there are both negative and positive aspects of this phenomenon. It is thus essential to make the processes of globalization work for the benefit of all humanity – to create what some call "cooperative" or "inclusive" globalization – and not just for the privileged and powerful. To achieve this will require just and equitable regulation of the processes of globalization, including appropriate legal controls and institutional oversight.

We can characterize the last few centuries as the era of nation states. The world economy was made up of separate national economies, and most big companies operated within a single country. But, today, companies and financial markets can increasingly make production, marketing and investment decisions relatively free of national constraints. Power may be shifted from individual states to the markets and especially to transnational corporations.

Thus economic globalization has revealed a mismatch between current systems and institutions that are national or inter-national and the global nature of economic activities. In short, our post-war institutions such as the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions were built for inter-national world, but we now live in a global world. In other words, political globalization is proceeding too slow, and we are lacking adequate global governance. This poses a major challenge for global governance in the 21st century.

Poor countries and poor people have little influence in today's international policy making. At the World Trade Organization, about 30 poor countries cannot afford to run permanent offices at its headquarters in Geneva, and are therefore excluded from shaping crucial trade agreements that affect their future. At the IMF and the World Bank, the prime mechanism of control is the size of rich countries' capital subscriptions, which gives them enormous voting power vis-à-vis the mass of developing countries. The Group of Eight nations have 48% of the voting power, while a different group of eight poor, indebted countries that met in a counter summit to the G-8 in 1998 shared just 1.6% of the votes.

Many organizations of civil society with a long-term focus on the downtrodden, underserved, and impoverished, have arisen to call attention to the negative impacts of globalization. Here at the Millennium Forum we, likewise, call attention to the need for ensuring equity, upholding justice and protecting diversity as we face the challenges of globalization.

In reviewing recent declarations and statements of civil society, as well as the inputs to the Millennium Forum, including the Forum paper produced by our Working Group on "The Challenges of Globalization: Achieving Equity, Justice and Diversity," we can affirm the importance of the following principles and ideas as we deal with the processes of globalization.

- We uphold those aspects of globalization that contribute to a greater degree of freedom, integration, and solidarity among the world's peoples, cultures and social systems. In this regard, we uphold the right of people to travel freely across national boundaries, whether as refugees or simply in search of better conditions.

- We are concerned that the processes of the integration and re-structuring of national economies into one global economic order through trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation too often serve primarily to consolidate wealth and power, rather than to create new opportunities for the involvement of local groups and regional entities in the world system.

- We are concerned that the processes of economic globalization are taking a particularly heavy toll on women. Too often, women provide the bulk of cheap labor in the free trade zones, and there is little to ensure that safe working conditions and basic environmental standards are protected. Of special concern is the high number of women who are the victims of sex trafficking and slavery.

- We are also concerned about the degree to which the international trade regime, under the World Trade Organization, is managed by governments in a way that is secretive and unaccountable to the people.

- The negative effects of globalization can be softened only through new and higher levels of international cooperation, consultation and regulation. The main mechanism for these activities is the United Nations.

- The nature of the current economic globalization process changes and, in many ways, weakens the role and the authority of national governments. The future of the United Nations will depend very much on maintaining and strengthening governments, which, unlike corporate entities, offer citizens a mechanism through which their voices can be heard. Because nations often do not represent their people, the United Nations must also continue to develop people's participation in governance and democratic institutions, not only at the national, but also at the local level.

- In this regard, the United Nations is the forum that can best regulate the practices of corporations and assist member states to control them. Applying the universally accepted standards already developed by the UN on human rights, labor right and the environment will go a long way toward the establishment of an international economic order founded on meeting the needs of all peoples and not on maximizing profit and privilege. At the same time, voluntary codes of conduct should continue to be encouraged and promulgated.

- The concept of global public goods is being promoted by the United Nations Development Programme in its Human Development Report 1999 and the World Bank in its Draft World Development Report 2000/1: Attacking Poverty. Global public goods are "commodities, services, or resources that have benefits that cross borders and therefore benefit entire regions or even the entire world. Examples include international economic stability, global health research, global or regional environmental improvement, and international security."[33] Serious consideration needs to be given to this concept, in order to determine how such goods can be provided to developing countries, not only for their benefit, but, ultimately, for the benefit all nations and peoples.

Strengthening and Democratizing the United Nations

As we stated earlier, the United Nations is today the single most important global institution on the earth. In its Charter, it seeks to voice the hopes and aspirations of all of the peoples of the world. It was, indeed, created to help humanity realize its long-cherished dream of establishing universal peace and justice.

In many ways, the United Nations can also be said to be that institution that best reflects the major trends of our age. Although not perfect, it strives to be a model of democracy. Through its various agencies, it has sought to share and even increase the new kinds of knowledge that exist in the world today – and, in some cases, through such mechanisms as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, it seeks to control the harmful effects of humanity's expanded knowledge. And, lastly, in its mere existence as a unitary organization concerned with the interests of all nations and peoples, it is a concrete expression of our existence as a single human family.

The United Nations will only become more important in the years ahead – and its effectiveness and strength will depend in large part on the degree to which it successfully forms new partnerships in the world. These partnerships must include strengthened connections not only with member states, but also with businesses and corporations, which have become such important actors on the world stage today. Last but not least, the United Nations must deepen and strengthen the partnerships it has made with global civil society.

The United Nations will become more important because the issues discussed here, which we believe reflect the most pressing concerns of our time, must ultimately be addressed at the global level and resolved through global coordination. Peace and security are issues that often can be best addressed through an authoritative international forum for mediation, arbitration, and, if necessary, forceful resolution. Although poverty must be addressed at the local and national levels, the global forces that too often shackle entire nations must be addressed at the global level through the creation of laws, mechanisms and processes to regulate these forces. Human rights, especially when they concern the violation of human rights by a government, often can only be addressed from outside national borders; consequently, the setting and upholding of global norms is crucial. Sustainable development, which must be based on local action, must nevertheless be addressed globally and nationally, given the degree to which our global environment is interconnected. Other challenges of globalization, too, require examination and redress by a global agency.

Rather than wresting control from local communities, a strengthened and democratized UN will, in fact, provide a framework under which local communities will be able to gain control over most aspects of community life. To this end, the global system we envision will operate on the principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity – i.e., creating policy, making decisions, implementing programs and enforcing regulations on the level that is most appropriate, whether local, national, regional or international – will greatly facilitate both the optimal use of available resources and widespread participation by the people and communities most immediately affected. The benefits of the principle of subsidiarity cannot be fully realized without a comprehensive global framework under which issues can be analyzed, just policies established and enforced, and programs coordinated. A democratized UN will provide such a framework.

In recent years, civil society has taken the lead in creative thinking about how the United Nations can be strengthened and made more democratic. In this vein, we urge a careful consideration of the proposals outlined in the paper prepared by the Millennium Forum's Working Group on "Strengthening and Democratizing the United Nations and Other International Organizations," which, along with other NGO documents, contains the following principles and proposals.

- We desire a strong regime of international law, one in which states and governments agree to abide by the rulings of duly constituted international bodies, such as the World Court, and one in which they feel compelled to abide by the international agreements, covenants, and conventions that they have agreed to.

- The United Nations Security Council needs restructuring to make it more encompassing in its composition. The so-called veto-power, which is undemocratic and unjust and is a vestige of an archaic era of so-called Great Powers, should be phased out over time. In the interim, the current Permanent Members of the Security Council should resolve to use the veto power only when a resolution or action of the United Nations directly threatens their territorial sovereignty.

- The United Nations General Assembly needs to become more representative -- and then given a greater voice in UN Affairs. The current system of one vote, one state, does not adequately represent the interests of the world's peoples. Civil society groups have proposed a variety of remedies, and we urge that a wholesale discussion of this question be undertaken at all levels among governments, in the United Nations system, and by civil society at large. One proposal that should be considered would be to create a Parliamentary Assembly whose membership, among other things, would be based on proportional representation by population. In a process that resembles the evolution of the European Parliament, the members of this UN body might be appointed, at first, by their respective governments – drawing appointed members, perhaps, from both the diplomatic corps and the respective national parliaments. Then, at an appropriate time, they could be directly elected by the populations that they represent. The initial role of this body could be to advise the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretary General on matters before it; its role could grow to include the crafting of binding legislation. It would, eventually, assume the responsibilities of the General Assembly but with an increased mandate. We consider this phased proposal very workable, and, indeed, such a body would be more representative of the peoples of the world than any other body ever created by humankind. Other proposals that should be considered include the weighting of votes by population, economic strength and geography; and the establishment of a Global Peoples Assembly.[34]

- In order to better carry out its collective security functions, the world community of nations needs to establish a United Nations International Peace Force. This standing force of peacekeepers would need to be composed of individuals from as many nations as possible; it would need to be independent of national interests; and it would need to be fully funded so that its missions are not compromised by lack of money.

- The creation of a "a permanent single currency … sustained not only by centralized monetary authorities but also by other common institutions" deserves serious study.[35] The creation of a single world currency would do much to remedy one of the key harms of economic globalization, which is the ceaseless speculation in currency values, an activity which in fact has no productive value.

- In keeping with this overall vision of global inclusion, we urge that the United Nations forge a stronger partnership with the organizations of civil society at all levels. In particular, we ask that NGOs be granted increased access to United Nations bodies and meetings so that civil society can both offers its expertise and make its views known. More specifically, we wish to propose that the United Nations grant observer status to a new entity, which we shall call here the "Global Civil Society Forum."[36] This entity, which we propose to evolve out of the Millennium Forum, would function to channel the expertise and experience of global civil society to the United Nations by allowing appropriate representatives to comment directly on any of the 152 Agenda items before the General Assembly.

What is to be done?

Seeking to go beyond the mere making of demands, the Millennium Forum wishes to put forward a series of concrete steps that can be taken to bring the above vision of a just, peaceful and prosperous world more quickly into reality. In particular, we wish to state that there are steps that all actors at the international, national, regional and local levels can take. We do not mean to rely on governments or the United Nations alone for solutions. Accordingly, our program for actions is divided into three categories: steps that can and must be taken by governments; those that can and must be taken by the United Nations and its agencies; and those that can and must be taken by the organizations of civil society and concerned individuals around the world.

As an overarching theme in this regard, we want to stress the need for partnership on all levels. This word, "partnership," has become quite prominent at the United Nations and in meetings of civil society recently, but we intend to deepen the shared understanding of its meaning and potential.

In light of the world’s interdependence, we state firmly that no single agent or authority can accomplish the above agenda without true consultation and active collaboration with the others. All must be involved: governments; the United Nations and other international organizations; and civil society in all of its manifestations, including non-governmental organizations, youth groups, trade unions, local and regional authorities, and private and public businesses and corporations.

We wish to call particular attention to the Secretary-General’s Report to the Millennium Summit, We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, which outlines a vision of global inclusion similar to the one we offer here and establishes a firm basis for partnership among all actors in solving global challenges.

In particular, we applaud the Secretary-General's vision of "global interdependence;"[37] "a new ethic of global stewardship;"[38] "global norms…global concerns and action…global rules;"[39] "new forms of global governance;"[40] "a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity;"[41] and "an emerging global civilization within which there will be room for the world’s rich diversity to express itself fully."[42]

The Secretary-General’s Report also offers numerous concrete proposals that are both bold and realistic, many of which we fully endorse. We must add, however, that some of his proposals do not go far enough, and we wish, accordingly, to propose even more audacious action.

In the documents that have been prepared by the Working Groups on each of the major sub-themes of the Millennium Forum, we have set out detailed proposals for what each of the major actors can do, and we direct everyone's attention to those proposals. We must also call attention again to key civil society documents such as the Hague Agenda for Peace and Security in the 21st Century, and the Earth Charter, to which we have already referred.

In the interests of drawing attention to those steps which we feel are most critical, however, we wish to list a few of the action steps that can be taken by each of the major actors on the international scene now. All of these steps, we feel, are entirely possible and practical. Whatever "political realities," such as they are, that may stand in the way, we believe to be only fictitious remnants of old thinking, old ways, and old institutions.

What Governments should do

Our focus is a stronger United Nations, inasmuch as it does embody the best possibilities for coordinated action to promote peace, justice, sustainable development, human rights and a coordinated response to the challenges of globalization. Inasmuch as governments compose the United Nations, the burden of action in large part falls on them.

In this regard, we call on governments to:

- Live up to the promises and pledges they agreed to in the major action plans produced at the major United Nations conferences of the last decade. These plans, adopted by consensus with the widespread participation of global civil society, reflect the best thinking on steps to be taken at the global, national and local levels to realize social and economic justice in the nations of the world, now and in the immediate future. Specifically, nation states in the Global North should live up to their pledge to give .07 percent of their GNP to overseas development assistance, a pledge made at the Social Summit and in other recent forums.

- Governments must live up to their current funding commitments to the United Nations. Non-payment of dues, especially by the wealthiest countries, must no be allowed to continue. Further, new mechanisms of funding the United Nations must be developed. In this regard, serious consideration should be given to implementing global taxes such as the Tobin tax.

- Set as the highest priority a consideration of the points outlined above about strengthening and democratizing the United Nations. Specifically, we call on governments to make the General Assembly more democratic, to expand the Security Council and limit the veto power, and to establish an international peace force. In general terms we call upon governments to re-think the structure and purpose of the United Nations in the age of globalization, now that the Cold War is over and the number of member states has risen dramatically since its founding.

- Carefully review the action steps for Governments proposed in the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century.

- Adopt the Earth Charter by consensus in the United Nations General Assembly. Thisproposal answers the call in the Secretary-General’s Report for the adoption of "a new global ethic of conservation and stewardship."[43]

- Bring the International Criminal Court (ICC) firmly into existence and give it full support. Once established, the ICC will be a permanent court for bringing to justice individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

- Work for widespread adoption of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. In an interdependent world, nuclear weapons are an anachronism and their continued existence is a waste of money, a monument to human folly, a threat to global civilization, and a nightmare future for all our children. We support the call in the Secretary-General’s Report for the convening of a major international conference on eliminating nuclear dangers. We also welcome the recent declaration by five states with nuclear weapons that they are willing, in principle, to eliminate them. We would like to urge the adoption of a timetable for their elimination. With proper confidence-building measures, including the kinds of strengthened United Nations called for here, we believe states can eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.

- Work to control the misuse and spread of small arms. In a world where most wars are fought primarily by small arms, where more people are killed by them in conflict and in peace than by all other weapons combined, strong controls on the export and manufacture of these weapons is an extremely practical step toward peace. To this end, the UN Conference on the Illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, to be held in 2001, should be vigorously supported by all UN member states. We also urge the leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit to guarantee that the territorial integrity of all states will be upheld so that nations will not need arms beyond what is necessary for law and order within their borders.

- Work to stop the use of child soldiers. The use of child soldiers is an abomination, outlawed by international convention and law. It is one of the worst forms of inhumanity.

- Support efforts to make the Convention on Landmines universal. A program to de-mine the planet and to help those individuals, communities and nations effected by landmines, should also be put into place.

- Adopt a target of eliminating extreme poverty from the face of the earth by the year 2020. While the Secretary-General’s Report sets out 2015 as the target date for halving extreme poverty, we believe that this great blot on humanity must consign poverty to history by 2020.

- Ensure that universal primary education is achieved by 2010 (the Secretary General’s Report sets 2015 as the target year for all children to complete a full course of primary education.)

- Grant duty-free and quota-free access for all exports from the least developed countries, as put forward in the Secretary-General’s Report.

- Forgive debt as a step in the recognition that our fates and fortunes are intertwined, and as a practical expression of commitments made to eradicate poverty. Such initiatives as Jubilee 2000, the World’ Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), and bilateral debt-forgiveness efforts need to be greatly expanded. As a beginning, we support the proposal put forward in the Secretary-General’s Report that donor countries and the international financial institutions eliminate all debts of the heavily indebted poor countries in return for those countries making demonstrable commitments to poverty reduction and democratization.

- As a major contribution to the reduction of global warming, governments should ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol. We call for universal ratification of this Protocol by the year 2010.

- Ensure, by 2020, that all people have sustainable access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water. The Secretary-General’s Report calls for halving the number without such access by 2015, but we urge governments to reach the target of universal access by 2020.

- The reform and democratization of the United Nations should include extending consultative rights to civil society representatives, non?governmental organizations and parliamentarians at the regional and international levels of the UN. Governments should complete the process of extending NGOs rights of access and participation to the General Assembly and its Main Committees and subsidiary bodies (based in principle on the arrangements agreed to in Resolution 1996/31). All provisions of 1996/31 should be applied, except those dealing with oral and written statements.

- Call a conference similar to the Bretton Woods conference of some 50 years ago to discuss what sort of new financial architecture is needed for our rapidly globalizing world. There is also a need for introducing an ombudsman mechanism within the WTO, World Bank and IMF to investigate cases of alleged bias and corruption.

- The UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be adopted in its present form.

- An international agreement or arrangement on freshwater should be negotiated by the year 2002. In the meantime, all nations must work to make freshwater quality, conservation and supply a priority of local, national and international policy, implementing the watershed approach. Governments should immediately enact laws to stop industrial use of water where it puts communities at risk.

- Governments should continue to implement the Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, and those countries who have not yet ratified it should do so now.

- The political momentum that has been generated through the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forest IPF/IFF processes that is necessary for placing forest high on the agenda of governments and international organizations should be sustained.

What the United Nations should do

Although the great burden for change in the international system falls upon the state members of the United Nations, which must act appropriately either to amend the UN Charter or pass new resolutions and legislation in the General Assembly, the various agencies of the United Nations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the United Nations Secretariat, have before them a number of creative avenues for meeting the challenges ahead. Many of these avenues have been outlined in the Secretary General's proposal to the Millennium Summit, as noted above. Beyond these points, however, we urge the following actions.

- The United Nations should root out corruption, inefficiency and bureaucratic malaise at every level and in every agency.

- The United Nations and all of its agencies in the widest definition, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, as well as the World Trade Organization, should aim for the highest possible standard of transparency and democracy in all regulatory, administrative, and information-gathering meetings, of all of its bodies.

- The United Nations should be more willing to call governments to task when they fail to abide by human rights agreements, take aggressive moves or actions, fail to respect the environment, and remain inactive in the assault on poverty.

- The United Nations should make a careful review of the administrative measures that are already available to it and its agencies to reign in the harmful effects of globalization.

- The United Nations should, to the extent possible, grant increased access to civil society representatives at all United Nations meetings.

- The United Nations should give support to the idea, outlined above, for the creation of a special observer seat in the General Assembly for the proposed Global Civil Society Forum, as outlined above in the section on "Strengthening and Democratizing the United Nations."

- We endorse the proposal in the Secretary-General’s Report to establish a United Nations Information Technology Service, "a consortium of high-tech volunteers corps" to "train groups in developing countries in the uses and opportunities of information technology and [to] stimulate the creation of additional digital corps in the North and South."[44] We strongly urge the UN to expand this volunteer corps, based on what it learns during its first year of operation, so that all countries and peoples can benefit from the information revolution.

- We endorse the proposal in the Secretary-General’s Report that "a high-level Public policy network [be convened] to address … controversies concerning the risks and opportunities associated with the increased use of biotechnology and bioengineering."[45]

- We support the proposal in the Secretary-General’s Report that the UN establish a "Health InterNetwork to provide hospitals and clinics in developing countries with access to up-to-date medical information."[46]

- We endorse the proposal in the Secretary-General’s Report that, at both national and international levels, strong partnerships be developed "with the private sector to combat poverty in all its aspects."[47]

- Adopt as a goal the creation of an anti-malaria vaccine and its global distribution, by 2010, and the creation of an anti-HIV vaccine and its distribution by 2020.

- The United Nations must become the focal point for the examination and regulation of new and potentially harmful technologies, such as biotechnologies and genetic manipulation.

- The UN should continue support for the Preparatory Commission which is adopting measures to enact the 1998 statute for an International Criminal Court (ICC) as the next significant step in the protection of international human rights.

What civil society should do

Civil society must not wait for governments or merely be content to lobby governments to act. Already, in the world of poverty reduction and development, NGOs are acting on their own. The Hague Agenda for Peace outlined a series of independent actions that can be taken by NGOs. And in the human rights and development fields the actions of NGOs are well known.

However, it is no time for worldwide civil society to make a greater effort to work together across issues of common concern through the development of new networks, coalitions and associations for action.

More specifically, civil society needs to take the following actions.

- Become more democratic and accountable in the way it organizes itself and operates, whether at the local, national, regional or international level. Operate truthfully and constructively.

- Religious organizations, which are perhaps the largest single element of civil society in terms of membership, must become leaders in promoting tolerance, harmony and unity. Intolerance of other religions or faith groups on the part of the religious leaders of any group is unacceptable.

- Work to make social harmony a reality in our communities, our nations and the world. This will include working to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and religious hatred. Understanding, love, compassion and service to others should be promoted through the media, in schools, in the work place, in our families, in our professions and in the public sphere. An appreciation for the richness and importance of the world’s diverse cultural, religious and social systems should be nurtured in as much as they contribute to social integration, justice and unity.

During the coming year, civil society will thrash out how it will move ahead with its commitments, including lobbying, forming partnerships, holding follow-up meetings and generating a wide range of activities. We suggest that the task of fleshing out and further developing the idea of establishing a Global Civil Society Forum, as outlined above in the section on "strengthening and democratizing the United Nations," should be followed up by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative Status with ECOSOC. We recommend the establishment of an independent board of directors, which would be democratically elected, with proper notice, by civil society organizations worldwide in contact with the Millennium Forum and its associated networks and coalitions.

In Conclusion

We, representatives of civil society from across the planet, have gathered here at the Millennium Forum. We support the United Nations – the single-most important global institution on the planet – and we pledge to help make it more democratic and effective.

We endorse the spirit and aims of The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century; The Seoul Draft Programme of Action: An Agenda for Peace, Security and Development in the 21st Century; The Montreal Message: The Spirit of Montreal; and The Earth Charter.

We have outlined what we believe to be the major issues facing the world community and we have presented specific proposals that, if acted upon, will create a more democratic and more vibrant United Nations for the 21st Century. The United Nations, governments and civil society all have critical roles to play in helping the UN achieve its great potential.

We embrace the vision of inclusion outlined above – a vision based on the recognition that, in all our spectacular diversity we are one human family sharing a common homeland. We commit ourselves – individually and as members of our families, communities and professions – to work actively for its realization.

The future we envision and which we are committed to achieving is one of a just, peaceful and sustainable world civilization. Such a civilization will be characterized by democracy, the rule of law, human rights, inclusiveness, compassion and love. It will approach development as a process in which material progress serves not as an end in itself, but as a vehicle for spiritual and cultural advancement.

This civilization will foster the physical, emotional, intellectual and moral development of the individual. Children will be cherished as our most precious resource and will be seen as the trust of all. Families will be protected and nurtured. Women will share equal rights with men and will advance to the forefront in all fields of human endeavor. Violence in all its forms – including violence against women and children, warfare, poverty, racism and social exclusion – will vanish, and service to others and to the community as a whole will become a guiding principle of individual and collective action.

In this civilization, education will be universal and life-long, and will nurture a sense of world citizenship. All peoples will participate in the creation and application of knowledge, and the fruits of science and technology will benefit the entire human family. Economic systems will serve the needs of peoples and communities, and work will be available for all. The creation and enjoyment of beauty will be central to the rhythms of community life. A sustainable pattern of life will be established in which we will live on the earth with moderation, justice and humility, thereby not only conserving the environment, but also protecting the rights of future generations. Democratic systems of governance at all levels of society – from the local to the global – will enable people to assume responsibility for the processes and institutions that affect their lives.

More than any other future scenario that has been offered or imposed in the past, this vision of global inclusion reflects the aspirations, dreams and hopes of the world’s peoples. It is taking form and being given substance through international conventions and treaties, world conferences and their global action plans, the work and deliberations of organizations of civil society, innumerable development experiences of richly diverse communities and nations, and innovative thinking and compassionate action at every level across the planet. It is animated by those universal principles which are essential to the development of the human spirit and, therefore, to individual progress and social advancement.

We are firmly convinced that this vision is our common future.

We appeal to the United Nations, and to the assembled leaders at the Millennium Summit, to seize this opportunity to transform the United Nations into that institution capable of acting upon this vision and of helping to guide humanity into its promised future.

[1] These conferences include the 1990 World Summit for Children; the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit); the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights; the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1995 World Summit for Social Development; the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women; and the 1996 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).

[2] "In all our diversity we are one human family sharing a common and increasingly threatened home, which urgently requires action…." (General Assembly document A/CONF.151/PC/WG.III/L.28.)

The text of this document was drafted and agreed upon by over 200 NGOs attending the Fourth Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) Session of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. It was then submitted as an official PrepCom negotiating text by the governments of Denmark and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland during negotiations on the proposed Earth Charter.

[3] For example:

"We, the participants of the International NGO Forum at the Global Forum ’92, have met in Rio de Janeiro as citizens of planet earth to share our concerns, our dreams and our plans for creating a new future for our world. We emerge from these deliberations with a profound sense that in the richness of our diversity, we share a common vision of a human society grounded in the values of simplicity, love, peace and reverence for life. We now go forth in solidarity to mobilize the moral and human resources of all nations in a unified social movement committed to the realization of this vision…. The fundamental purpose of economic organization is to meet the community’s basic needs…. Beyond meeting basic physical needs, the quality of human life depends more on the development of social relationships, creativity, cultural and artistic expressions, spirituality and opportunity to be a productive member of the community, than on the ever increasing consumption of material goods…. All elements of society, irrespective of gender, class or ethnic identity, have a right and obligation to participate fully in the life and decisions of the community. The presently poor and disenfranchised, in particular, must become full participants. Women’s roles, needs, values and wisdom are especially central to decision-making on the fate of the Earth. There is an urgent need to involve women at all levels of policy-making, planning and implementation on an equal basis with men…. The rights and contributions of indigenous peoples must be recognized…. We commit ourselves to live by the values of simplicity, love, peace and reverence for life shared by all religious traditions…. We invite the leaders of business and government to join us in this act of global citizenship." (People’s Earth Declaration) And,

"We consider that as youth of the world we are a strong force that can be channeled through unity in diversity. This implies economic and social justice; equal participation in decision-making; peace and collective security; equal rights and education. We commit ourselves through this unity to ensure for all people a lifestyle directed toward development which is responsible to future generations…. It is necessary to alleviate the vast extremes of wealth and poverty and to eliminate all prejudices, be they racial, nationalist, cultural, religious, gender-based or class-based, as these are causes of social violence. We commit ourselves to the sincere respect of each person as an integrated part of humanity. We adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights….. We commit ourselves to promoting an integral education – scientific, cultural and spiritual – with a non-competitive aspect as the basis of a change in consciousness that will manifest itself in action." (Youth Treaty)

The Earth Summit NGO Alternative Treaties – some 40 treaties in all – were drafted by hundreds of NGOs during the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. The treaties can be found at

[4] The document begins with the following: "We, representatives of social movements, NGOs and citizens' groups participating in the NGO Forum during the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD), share a common vision of a world which recognizes its essential oneness and interdependence while wholly embracing human diversity in all its racial, ethnic, cultural and religious manifestations, where justice and equity for all its inhabitants is the first priority in all endeavours and enterprises and in which the principles of democracy and popular participation are universally upheld, so that the long-dreamed creation of a peaceful, cooperative and sustainable civilization can at long last be made possible."

This document was drafted at the World Summit for Social Development and was signed by over 700 NGOs participating in that event.

[5] The Declaration states, "We, NGO women of the world, rich in our diversity, have gathered along with governments in the largest global conference ever to address women’s issues and the existing barriers to our achieving equality, development and peace. We believe that these goals can be realized by ending the oppression of women and girls, by women’s full participation in national and international decision-making, and transforming the social, economic and political structures which underlie and perpetuate poverty, racism, inequality, injustice, unemployment, violence and war… The current growth model fails to meet the fundamental material and spiritual needs of the peoples of the world…. We seek these transformations in the spirit of service to humanity, partners with youth as agents of change, keeping our children, grandchildren and future generations in our hearts. We are convinced that as women achieve full and equal participation in all the affairs of the planet, peace will be realized and the well-being of every individual secured."

This document was created and issued by NGOs attending the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The full text of this document can be found at

[6] The statement asserts that "Moral, ethical and spiritual values provide the framework of healthy human settlements. There are universally recognized values which foster human dignity and there is an indissoluble link between these values and human rights. Among these values are beauty, love, compassion, peace, justice, mercy, responsibility, humility and patience… These values strengthen the cohesion of families and communities…. When values are promoted through education, particularly multi-religious, multi-cultural programs aimed at demonstrating the richness of all cultures, tolerance, acceptance and appreciation emerges and life is enriched by diversity. Humans are not merely greedy consumers and producers. There are dimensions of grandeur in the human being which are not measurable. We have enormous potential for sacrifice, caring and wisdom…. Our human potential can be fulfilled in the expression of beautiful moral, ethical, creative and spiritual values…. We have faith that the collective wisdom of humanity will provide answers. The wisdom that emerges provides a vision of hope and justice. The problems we face are largely derived from fear, avarice and ignorance."

This statement was presented by the NGO Forum Working Group to the UN Partners’ Hearings of Committee 2 at the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).

A resume of this statement can be found at

[7] The Agenda states that, "We will embrace the moral imagination and courage necessary to create a 21st century culture of peace and to develop national and supranational institutions which ultimately must be the guarantors of peace and justice in this world…. A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice non-violently, live by international standards of human rights and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, and respect the Earth and each other…. The promotion of democracy at all levels of society is a prerequisite for replacing the rule of force with the rule of law."

The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century was drafted in a global consultation over a period of two years by hundreds of NGOs. It was then adopted by consensus by over 10,000 NGO representatives and individuals gathered at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace in May 1999. The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice is a United Nations General Assembly document (Ref: A/54/98). The full text can also be found at

[8] The Programme of Action states that, "One of the prominent themes raised in the 1999 Seoul Conference of NGOs was the necessity of a unifying vision of a peaceful, prosperous world society, and the oneness of humanity that produces a sense of responsibility for the fate of the planet and for the well being of the entire human family."

This Programme of Action was produced at the 1999 Seoul International Conference of NGOs which was attended by more than 10,000 individuals from over 1,400 NGOs from 107 countries.

[9] The Declaration asserts that, "We seek human security and peace beyond the absence of armed conflict, discrimination and exclusion. Security is the creation within and among societies of a web of unity, woven from social justice, economic interdependence, and political co-operation….. to achieve the well-being of humanity."

This Declaration emanated from the 1999 World Civil Society Conference, which brought together some 350 NGO representatives from around the world. The full text can be found at

[10] Among other things, this visionary Charter states, "We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent … we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace…..We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked…We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community…. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations…. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision-makers, leaders, and beneficiaries. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members….. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice…. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living…. we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. "

The Earth Charter was drafted over an 8 year process and involved input from thousands of individuals and organizations across the planet. Completed in March 2000, it is, perhaps, the most extensively and intensively consulted upon NGO document ever produced. The full text can be found at

[11] These global action plans include the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990's (World Summit for Children); the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – Earth Summit); the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (World Conference on Human Rights); the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (International Conference on Population and Development); the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action (World Summit for Social Development); the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action (Fourth World Conference on Women); and the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda (United Nations Conference on Human Settlements – Habitat II).

[12] For example, Learning: The Treasure Within – The Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century; and Our Creative Diversity – The Report of the World Commission on Culture and Development.

[13] For example, the Human Development Report 1999, the United Nations Development Programme.

[14] For example, States of Disarray: The Social Effects of Globalization, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

[15] These include, Common Responsibility in the 1990’s: The Stockholm Initiative on Global Security and Governance; Our Global Neighborhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance; The Millennium Year and the Reform Process: A Contribution from the Commission on Global Governance; The United Nations in its Second Half-Century: The Report of the Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations; and The United Nations: Policy and Financing Alternatives – The First Report of the Global Commission to Fund the United Nations.

[16] The United Nations Development Programme, the Human Development Report 1999, page 28.

[17] The World Bank, World Development Report 1999/2000, page 25.

[18] Kofi Annan, "War: Foe of Development," UN Press Release SG/SM/7187, 19 October 1999, page 1.

[19] Ibid, page 5.

[20] Isaiah, 2:4, Holy Bible, King James Version.

[21] The quotation continues: :… / While those who have acquired good fame/ Shall reap the promised reward/ In the blessed dwelling of the Good Mind/ of the Wise One and of Righteousness…" (Yasna 30: 9 –11, translated by Duchesne-Guillemin; cited in the World Encyclopedia of Peace, 2nd Edition, 1999.) Zoroastrian Scripture prophesies an unending era of unity, peace and harmony in the world.

[22] The Koran, Sura 56, translated by J M Rodwell.

[23] Guru Granth, Ravidas: 345; quoted in the World Encyclopedia of Peace, 2nd Edition, 1999.

[24] The Jain doctrine of ahimsa (non violence); the Confucian emphasis on virtue and love for others as the ordering principles of a peaceful world; and the Buddhist principles of compassion and right action can be seen both as calls for and guideposts to a future state of peace and justice on earth. In this same vein, "Great Peace" – a promised age of peace and harmony – is a major theme of philosophical and religious Taoism. Other religious allusions to an era of peace and justice include the following:

"For, only by working on did [King] Janaka and his like attain perfection’s prize. Or if again you consider the welfare of the world, then you should work. Whatever the noblest does, that too will others do: the standard that he sets all the world will follow." (The Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 3: 20-21; Oxford University Press);

"Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us are all our brothers and sisters, why Oh Lord, is there trouble in this world? Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I earnestly with the wind will soon blow away all the clouds hanging over the tops of the mountains." (Shinto Peace Prayer);

"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10, The New Testament).

"Universal peace will raise its tent in the centre of the earth, and the Blessed Tree of Life will grow and spread to such an extent that it will overshadow the East and the West. Strong and weak, rich and poor, antagonistic sects and hostile nations – which are like the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the lion and the calf – will act towards each other with the most complete love, friendship, justice and equity. The world will be filled with science, with the knowledge of the reality of the mysteries of beings, and with the knowledge of God." (Some Answered Questions, Chapter 12, Bahá'í Scriptures.); and

"Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy." (Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, quoted in Black Elk Speaks, page 43.)

[25] These interfaith initiatives include the World Faiths Development Dialogue (religions collaborating at the international and national levels with the World Bank to overcome poverty), the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (religions collaborating with the World Wide Fund for Nature in the conservation field), the World Conference on Religions and Peace, and the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

[26] One of the most striking and comprehensive examples of interfaith cooperation in articulating a common vision and action plan is found in A Call to Our Guiding Institutions:

"We find ourselves at a moment when people everywhere are coming to recognize that the world is a global village…. to deepen spiritual awareness as the wellspring of personal transformation and to embrace the whole human community…. in order to assure a just, peaceful and sustainable future… It is vital that we develop a global perspective in order to meet adequately our ethical responsibilities as human beings… to promote service – in solidarity and partnership with the poor and vulnerable – to the entire human family…. We envision a world in which ….. the structures of power are accountable and serve the needs of all generations; our leaders are worthy of public trust; peace within and among nations is the rule and not the exception; the great decisions in human affairs are made with a thoughtful care for the future of the planetary community… to move toward a model of ‘communities of communities,’ from the village level through the international, with an ethos of service to the common good… We envision a world in which …. our productive activities are creative and vital and give meaning to our lives …. ethical, moral, and spiritual questions are an integral part of academic and civil discourse….. Over the course of history, science and religion have often been seen as contradictory or even as mutually exclusive. Increasing openness, however, has recently produced a new level of dialogue between the two. This development could not be more fortuitous: in the final analysis, the wisdom of religion, the knowledge of science, and the art of medicine are indispensable to each other and to a sustainable future…. We envision a world in which all peoples of the Earth have an equal voice and an equal claim to be heard; each person has an undeniable claim to universal human rights, complemented by a personal moral responsibility based on care for others; each person has a right to the fulfillment of basic human needs, balanced by a personal ethical obligation to share; national and regional concerns for equality, security, prosperity and sustainability are informed by a truly global perspective; any resort to arms to resolve a dispute is understood as a moral failure to engage in heartfelt dialogue; the regional and the global do not subsume but supplement and sustain the local; people from across the planet, from all walks of life, come to see themselves as world citizens." (A Call to Our Guiding Institutions.)

This remarkable document was drafted over three years, involving input from hundreds of organizations and many more individuals across the planet. It was issued in December 1999 at the World Parliament of Religions in Cape Town, South Africa, where it was

endorsed by the Parliament’s "Assembly" – a gathering of over 400 religious and spiritual leaders, activists and scholars from across the planet. The complete text of this document can be found at the website:

[27] General Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, Translated by Colonel J. J. Graham, Bandersnatch Unpress Edition, July 1999.

[28] Commitment #2, the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.

[29] We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century; April 2000; p 69.

[30] Language taken directly from The Earth Charter.

[31] Language taken largely from The Earth Charter.

[32] The problems and opportunities of globalization are much broader than just economics. By defining globalization in purely economic terms, we risk not only missing the significance of the positive, integrative aspects of this phenomenon, but also trying to apply economic solutions to many non-economic problems. This point is underlined by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in his Report to the Millennium Summit: "[G]lobalization must mean more than creating bigger markets. The economic sphere cannot be separated from the more complex fabric of social and political life, and sent shooting off on its own trajectory. To survive and thrive, a global economy must have a more solid foundation in shared values and institutional practices – it must advance broader and more inclusive social purposes." "Thus the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people, instead of leaving billions of them behind in squalor. Inclusive globalization must be built on the great enabling force of the market, but market forces alone will not achieve it. It

requires a broader effort to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity." (We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century; April 2000; pages 10 & 6).

[33] World Development Report 2000/1: Attacking Poverty, Consultation Draft, January 17, 2000.

[34] Several thousand people, NGOs, and civil society representatives have participated in the Global Peoples Assembly preparatory meetings since 1995. These meetings have focused on establishing a network of Local, Regional, and a permanent Global Peoples Assembly. During the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference a number of Peoples Assembly organizing sessions were held and a Declaration for a Global Peoples Assembly was passed by the Delegates present. It includes the following statement: "Recognizing our freedoms, rights, and responsibilities, we hereby call upon civil society and the United Nations to join us in establishing a permanent, representative Global Peoples Assembly to further promote dialogue, cooperation, and partnership between and among governments, organizations, and the people of the world."

[35] 1993 Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme.

[36] We expect that details of this proposal can be worked out before the Millennium Summit. Essentially, however, our proposal is to move toward the establishment of a modest Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF) secretariat, probably located in New York, which would use the Internet, email and other modern means of communication to channel to the General Assembly the input of those civil society organizations with specific expertise and experience on the various points of debate before it. We envision that this GCSF could evolve naturally from established NGO bodies at the United Nations, such as the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations, but that it would ultimately have its own board of directors and means of funding. We wish to note also that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his report to the Millennium Summit, proposes preparing an NGO-based study which "could form the basis for adopting new ways of involving civil society more fully in [the UN’s] common endeavours." (pages 69-70)

[37] We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century; April 2000; p 14.

[38] Ibid., p 63.

[39] Ibid., p 68.

[40] Ibid., p 67. Such governance, from the local to the global levels, includes "the rule of law, effective state institutions, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, respect for human rights and the participation of all citizens in the decisions that affect their lives." (p 22)

[41] Ibid., p 6.

[42] Ibid., p13.

[43] Ibid., p 79.

[44] Ibid., p 35.

[45] Ibid., p 62.

[46] Ibid., p 78.

[47] Ibid., p 78.