August 29, 2000
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan made an indirect appeal to states on Monday to listen to and work more closely with non-governmental organisations. He promised NGO representatives at their annual conference with the UN's Department of Public Information (DPI):
"We shall continue trying to improve your access" to the United Nations. "We shall sometimes fall short of your expectations," he said, because "ultimately, decisions about your level of participation will be up to member states."
The NGO/DPI conference traditionally precedes the general debate of world leaders which marks the start of each year's UN General Assembly in mid-September. This year's debate starts on September 6 with the three-day Millennium Summit, which Annan described as "the largest gathering of heads of state and government the world has ever seen.
The NGO/DPI conference recalled a meeting of 1,350 NGO representatives, held at UN headquarters from May 22 to 26, which produced recommendations on a wide range of issues including the eradication of poverty, human rights, disarmament, reforming the UN, and globalisation.
"If ever there was an age when we need global partnerships, it is the globalising age we live in today," Annan said. "I know that you are not always listened to you by governments as much as you should be, either in your own countries or at the global level," he said.
But, he said, NGOs were "our best defence against complacency, our bravest campaigners for honesty and our boldest crusaders for change." He urged NGOs to persuade governments to work with them by "cultivating transparency and professionalism in all you do".
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