LEADING NEWS SOURCE FOR TURKEY AND THE REGION

WORLD

World leaders to gather for UN Millennium Summit

HDN | 9/2/2000 12:00:00 AM |

United Nations - Reuters The world's top leaders will flock to the United Nations next week for a three-day Millennium Summit aimed at reinvigorating the middle aged organisation and preparing it to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Billed as the biggest diplomatic gathering ever staged -- even bigger than the 1995 U.N. 50th anniversary celebrations -- the Sept. 6-8 summit is expected to draw more than 150 heads of state or government and over two dozen other senior officials. The focus will be

United Nations - Reuters

The world's top leaders will flock to the United Nations next week for a three-day Millennium Summit aimed at reinvigorating the middle aged organisation and preparing it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Billed as the biggest diplomatic gathering ever staged -- even bigger than the 1995 U.N. 50th anniversary celebrations -- the Sept. 6-8 summit is expected to draw more than 150 heads of state or government and over two dozen other senior officials.

The focus will be an ambitious report issued by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last April setting a course for a new age born of benevolent globalization and human solidarity, with assistance from the Internet.

Participants will include such major players as U.S. President Bill Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi are among prominent figures not listed to attend, though Cuban President Fidel Castro, who participated in the U.N.'s 50th anniversary, was reported to be weighing an appearance.

The gathering, on the theme "The United Nations in the 21st Century," also provides an opportunity for hundreds of bilateral meetings on the fringes of the summit. More than 700 such encounters took place during the 50th anniversary events.

Battalions of police, U.S. Secret Service agents and other security staff have been mobilised for an extravaganza certain to play havoc with New York's normally frenetic traffic.

Since Clinton is expected to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, the summit could provide an opportunity to advance the Middle East peace process, hung up since July's Camp David talks over the emotional issue of Jerusalem.

Annan is expected to take advantage of the presence of most of Africa's leaders to try to put the breaks on at least some of that continent's numerous conflicts, from that in rebel-racked Sierra Leone to the many-sided war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Presiding jointly over the summit will be Namibian President Sam Nujoma and Finland's first woman president, Tarja Halonen. Summit participants are each supposed to speak for only five minutes, with a light on the podium set to flash when they approach the time limit.

Namibia's Foreign Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab has been president of the 54th Assembly session, which closes Sept. 5, while former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri will preside over the non-summit part of the 55th session, which opens Sept. 5. The tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu will be installed the same day as the 189th member of the United Nations.

In addition to the leaders' set speeches, four roundtables will be spread over the three days, chaired by the heads of state or government of Algeria, Poland, Singapore and Venezuela. To encourage frank dialogue, they will be closed to the public, though each chairman will report to the summit's closing session.

A summit-level meeting of the 15-nation Security Council will be held Sept 7. It will focus on U.N. peacekeeping issues, especially in Africa, and will be chaired by President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, which holds the council presidency for September.

The council is expected to draw on recent recommendations by a panel headed by former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi on ways of improving U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Annan's Millennium report is to be endorsed by a stirring nine-page Assembly declaration enshrining the principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

Drawing on Annan's near-utopian objectives, it will set such goals as halving by the year 2015 the 22 percent of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day, as well as halting and reversing by then the scourge of AIDS.

Another target is for all boys and girls, by that date, to be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

The declaration will also touch on such topics as the need to eliminate the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction and action against international terrorism. Easing the debt burden of poorer countries and ensuring new technologies -- especially information technology -- become available to all, are other desired objectives.

"We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people," an advance draft of the declaration states.

"For while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed," it adds.

Just as this year's Olympic Games are about to get under way in Sydney, Australia, the U.N. declaration will urge all states to observe the Olympic Truce.

This is an old-new tradition, revived by the U.N. Assembly in 1993 but dating back to ancient Greece when "ekecheiria," or the "Olympic Truce," stopped wars in their tracks and made it possible for athletes to travel and compete in safety.

A section of the declaration on strengthening the United Nations pledges to spare no effort to make it a more effective instrument in the fight for development and against poverty, ignorance, disease, injustice, violence, terror, crime and the "degradation and destruction of our common home."

While in New York, the world leaders will be urged to sign key treaties and conventions dealing with such issues as human rights, the rights of women and children, banning landmines and establishing an International Criminal Court.

The U.N. secretary-general is the repository of more than 500 treaties and, earlier this year, he drew special attention to a core group of 25 reflecting the main policy goals of the United Nations.

MOST POPULAR

MOST COMMENTED

AcerPro S.I.P.A HTML & CSS Agency