Bahai News - Baha'i UN Representative Addresses the Millennium Summit
Bahá'í World News Service
8 September 2000
Bahá'í United Nations Representative Addresses
World Leaders at the Millennium Summit
UNITED NATIONS (BWNS) - Speaking in his capacity as the Co-Chair of the
Millennium Forum, the principal representative of the Bahá'í
International Community to the United Nations today addressed world
leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit, urging them to join in a
global partnership with civil society to create a peaceful and more
"This historic Summit may well be remembered as having opened the door
to a long-awaited era of peace, justice and prosperity for all humanity,"
said Techeste Ahderom, who led the Millennium Forum, which brought
together some 1,350 representatives of non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) at the United Nations last May to consult about humanity's future
in anticipation of this week's Millennium Summit of world leaders.
"This new era will, of course, require concrete deeds and not just
words," Mr. Ahderom continued. "We in civil society stand ready to work
with you and your governments, side by side, in a strong new partnership
to create this new world. At the same time, civil society also stands
ready to hold you to your commitments if you do not deliver on your words."
In his capacity as Co-Chair of the Millennium Forum, Mr. Ahderom was
the only Summit speaker who represented civil society at large. The Summit
drew more than 150 world leaders, making it the largest gathering of heads
of state and government ever held.
In his address, Mr. Ahderom said that the Millennium Forum, which was
organized by non-governmental organizations and held 22-26 May 2000 at
the United Nations, was one of the most diverse and significant gatherings
of civil society ever held.
"The Forum was significant for its attempt to accelerate the process among
NGOs of networking and coalition building across issue areas that has
proved to be such a powerful force for change and social action in today's
world," said Mr. Ahderom. "The Forum's focus was on six main issues:
peace and security, the eradication of poverty, human rights, sustainable
development and the environment, the challenges of globalization, and
"strengthening and democratizing the United Nations."
Mr. Ahderom asked Summit leaders to carefully review the Millennium Forum
Declaration and Agenda for Action, a document that was drafted and adopted
by NGOs and civil society organizations gathered at the Forum last May,
who came from some 115 countries - including a large number from the
The Forum's Declaration, he said, "offers a bold vision for humanity's
future and outlines a series of concrete steps that the United Nations,
governments, and members of civil society themselves can take to address
the global problems facing humanity today."
In particular, Mr. Ahderom told world leaders, the Forum's Declaration
condemns global poverty as a "violation of human rights," urges the
immediate cancellation of Third World debt, calls for a "strengthened
and democratized United Nations" with a reformed Security Council,
invigorated through an enlarged membership, more democratic procedures,
and eventual elimination of the veto.
Mr. Ahderom also explained that the Forum's Declaration states that
while globalization offers "significant opportunities for people to connect,
share and learn from each other," in its currently unregulated form it
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
The Declaration, Mr. Ahderom said, urges governments to make serious
"commitments to restructure the global financial architecture based on
principles of equity, transparency, accountability, and
democracy," stating clearly that the United Nations should be the
preeminent international organization, overseeing the World Bank, the
IMF and the WTO.
Mr. Aherdom was selected as the Co-Chair of the Forum early last year
after heading up an interim planning committee that emerged from the Task
Force on UN Reform of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations
(CONGO). In his position as Co-Chair of the Forum, he headed up the
Forum's Executive Committee and directed the work of its Secretariat,
all in the capacity of an unpaid volunteer.
As the principal representative of the Bahá'í International
Community to the United Nations, Mr. Ahderom is mainly responsible for
the Community's work on human rights issues at the United Nations.
The Bahá'í International Community was recognized as an
international non-governmental organization at the United Nations in
1948. It represents the worldwide membership of the Bahá'í
Faith at the United Nations and in other fora. The Bahá'í
Faith has some five million members and has established communities in
more than 235 countries and territories.
In addressing the Millennium Summit, Mr. Ahderom sought to tell world
leaders about the Millennium Forum and its results, emphasizing the
important role civil society has played in promoting positive social
"Throughout history, from the abolition of slavery to the recognition of
the equality of women and men, most great social movements have begun not
with governments but with ordinary people," Mr. Ahderom said. "In 1945,
civil society again played an important role in shaping many of the key
articles found in the Charter of the United Nations, especially in the
area of human rights."
"More recently," he said, "NGOs have played a leading role in shaping
and supporting an International Criminal Court, in the movement for debt
cancellation, and in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines."
Mr. Ahderom called on world leaders to grant NGOs and civil society
groups increased access to the UN General Assembly as a first step
towards an invigorated partnership for the new century.
Speakers at the Summit were limited to heads of state and government,
foreign ministers, along with a few leaders of international,
intergovernmental organizations, such as the League of Arab States and
the Commission of the European Community. A few international organizations
with observer status at the United Nations, such as the International
Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke. Mr. Ahderom, however, was the
only representative to speak who represented a wide association of civil
society and non-governmental organizations around the world.
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