Global Policy Forum

GPF Annual Highlights


Highlights of previous years: 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001| 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993


Peace & Security
Global Policy Forum follows closely the work of the Security Council, the UN's most active and powerful body. GPF works to better inform the public about the economic interests and geo-strategy that often lie hidden beneath the surface of media coverage. GPF seeks to find out about what the Security Council is doing, so as to better inform the public and the NGO community. In 2008, we organized 37 policy meetings for key NGO representatives - usually with a Security Council ambassador or a high UN official. We followed certain conflicts especially closely, particularly Iraq, Haiti, Israel/Palestine, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And we worked on thematic issues, including Council reform, peacekeeping, and natural resources in conflict - how diamonds, timber, gold, oil and other resources fuel wars, implicating multinational companies and rich nations along with the better-known scoundrels: rebels, warlords, smugglers and dictators.

GPF maintains a comprehensive website on Iraq, because the conflict is so central to global politics and international law. GPF's site has become increasingly important as information on Iraq becomes scarcer and policymakers insist that the war has (nearly) ended. GPF monitors the US military presence, the oil interests, the political pressures, and, of course, the role of the UN. In 2008, we posted frequent news and analysis and we kept a close watch on the occupier's use of bombing, prisons, economic pressures, and militias, while the Iraqi state remained weak, divided and subordinate. In April, GPF sent a letter to the UN Secretary General, signed jointly with the International Federation of Human Rights, calling for improved UN reporting on human rights violations in Iraq, including violations by occupation forces. In May, we published an influential article by staff member Ciara Gilmartin on "The `Surge' of Iraqi Prisoners" calling attention to US forces' increased imprisonment of Iraqis without charge or trial - mostly in the vast Bucca prison camp in the southern desert.

Social & Economic Policy/Globalization
During 2008, our work in social and economic policy focused mainly on the world economic crisis and the food crisis. We published three papers on hunger and the global food aid system, and we researched biofuels, the globalized system of agricultural production and the negative loop between agriculture and climate change. We gave many media interviews throughout the year on these topics. In April, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, we organized a major international conference on the food crisis, bringing together seventy experts from more than thirty countries. The conference focused on paths towards a sustainable global food production system and a decent life for all those working in the agricultural sector.

GPF also worked on development financing - covering issues such as development aid, global taxes and offshore financial centers. GPF-Europe Director Jens Martens and GPF Senior Fellow Barbara Adams participated actively in the second global conference on financing for development in Doha, Qatar in December 2008, taking a leadership role in the NGO advocacy campaign there. Jens also we worked on corporate accountability and the need for reform of the international financial institutions. In the autumn, the world economic crisis exploded, amid revelations about wild speculation and malfeasance in the financial sector. This confirmed GPF's longstanding analysis and reinforced our commitment to far-reaching and fundamental changes in the economic system.

The United States emerged as a great power in the late 19th century and today it is the world's dominant nation. Some would call this an "empire" and many US conservatives embrace the term unapologetically. US hegemony has unquestionably weakened international cooperation and multilateralism and undercut the United Nations. GPF looks at this issue as the antithesis of cooperation and multilateralism. We are interested in the US military presence in over 100 countries and the enormous US economic influence, often exercised to the detriment of smaller and poorer countries. GPF has a rich web presence on these and related topics, including historical materials and maps. During 2008, we posted many new articles and maps to the web site. We also followed signs of a diminishing influence and capability of the US, due in part to a relative weakening of the US economy, the rise of other powers, and the effects of the world economic crisis.

UN Reform
We continued to provide analysis and information on the website about UN reform. With over 1000 documents, GPF's UN Reform site is one of the most comprehensive on the internet, covering reform of the UN organs, and the role of new actors, such as NGOs and business, at the UN. UN Reform tends to be faddish, as enthusiasms rise and fall, without much fundamental thought about the institution and where reform proposals may be headed. GPF tries to look beneath the surface and understand how national interests drive reform proposals. During 2008, GPF took up specific reform issues, including the reform of the UN Security Council and the reform of UN financing, building on many years of analysis.

United Nations Finance
The UN must have adequate financing if it is to fulfill its mission, yet its budget is comparatively small and its finances poorly-understood. Nations wrangle over every detail of the UN's budget while doing little to build cooperative financial solutions. GPF's program on UN finance seeks better funding and a more constructive approach to the budget process. In 2008, under the leadership of GPF Senior Research Fellow Klaus Huefner, we collected data and regularly updated the dozens of tables and charts that provide the world's most comprehensive information of this topic. We argued that the UN is constantly in a financial crisis because the United States fails to pay its dues on time and in full. But the responsibilities for the UN's financial woes run much wider. Member states make demands on the organization but are often unwilling to pay even modest dues increases. This has seriously undermined the organization and weakened its capacity to perform efficiently. In 2008, GPF began preparations for a major conference on UN finance in early 2009, and we lobbied for the full and timely payment of dues to the UN, by the US as well as other rich but reluctant members. We also continued to advocate for alternative financing for the UN, that could offer significant new sources of funding and finally provide the UN with the resources it requires.

NGOs & Global Governance
We continued our active research and advocacy on the worldwide NGO movement, pushing in particular for greater NGO access at the UN. NGOs contribute much to the United Nations through their information, ideas, advocacy and attentive monitoring. While the UN is more open to NGOs than it used to be, it still remains far too closed and restrictive. In 2008, we continued to work in partnership with others in favor of more NGO rights and more openness to NGO input.

Nations & States
During the year, GPF analyzed the role of "Nations & States" in a globalized world. We looked at how the global economy - through export processing zones, dollarization, tax havens and transnational corporations - has transformed state sovereignty. We also provided information on political integration, "failed states," emerging states and claims by groups to autonomy and national independence. The world economic crisis showed the continued importance of states, as economic managers and creditors of last resort, but the crisis also imperiled states and put many of them at risk of financial ruin if the economy does not soon recover.

International Justice
In 2008, we provided analysis and information on many key aspects of international justice. We covered the proceedings of the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. Further, we looked at the application of universal jurisdiction and the Alien Torts Claim Act, and we made available information on the discussion about "peace versus justice."

In 2008, we gave 140 interviews to media outlets all over the world, including radio, television, newspapers, magazines and websites. Among the many media were the New York Times, InterPress Service, France24, the Toronto Star, Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, Voice of America, the Nation, Fox News, South Africa Televisioin, Asahi Shinbun, BBC and Time Magazine. The topics of the interviews included Iraq, the UN Security Council, energy and oil, the global food crisis, and UN reform. This heavy demand from media outlets enabled GPF to reach many millions of people with our information and analysis.

GPF hosts one of the world's largest NGO sites on the UN and global policy. During 2008, the site attracted 48 million hits from 4.4 million visitors. We posted new documents daily and continued to refine the design of the site for greater user-friendliness. We developed a new design for our electronic newsletter, which reaches subscribers in more than 130 countries. Plans were under way for a major site overhaul and redesign, as well as a new blog, in the first half of 2009.

Policy Papers & Essays
GPF researched and wrote several papers, reports and articles in 2008. In January, we published a paper on the challenges in the global food aid system. And in the spring and summer, we wrote three reports on the global hunger crisis, analyzing the causes and proposing solutions. We wrote an article on Iraqi prisoners held indefinitely by US forces. Our European office published papers critically assessing the Millennium Development Goals and the UN's work on corporate accountability.

Conferences, Lectures and Meeting Participation
In addition to the almost weekly meetings of the NGO Working Group on the Security Council, GPF organized jointly with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation a day-long event on "The Right to Food: How Can the UN Respond to the Global Food Crisis." Representatives from the UN, NGOs and academic institutions spoke about the causes of the crisis as well as solutions. And on World Food Day, October 16, GPF supported an event on the food crisis, organized by World Hunger Year in New York. The event was attended by more than 500 people, including many students and journalists.

Internships and Volunteers
In 2008, we hosted three teams of interns in our New York office - a total of fifteen persons from twelve different countries. We gave them training in web posting, writing, internet research and international policy. We wrote numerous recommendation letters and gave career support to current and former interns. We organized many special luncheons, putting the interns in touch with members of the UN community - NGOs, diplomats, Secretariat officials and other UN staff. In addition, several interns supported the work of our European office in Bonn.

Senior Volunteers/Senior Fellows/Advisors
Alice Slater worked with GPF's Iraq program as a Senior Advisor until the summer of 2008. Alice is former President of Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), and co-founder of Abolition 2000, an international network for nuclear disarmament. In the fall of 2008, GPF was joined by Barbara Adams - former chief of Strategic Partnerships at UNIFEM - who came on board as Senior Fellow, to monitor the financing for development process and the UN response to the world economic crisis. Klaus Huefner worked with us as Senior Research Fellow from Berlin, with a special focus on UN finance. Céline Nahory actively engaged with GPF on a variety of issues as Senior Advisor - first from Tokyo and later from Mumbai. Katarina Wahlberg began service as Advisor on Social and Economic Policy from Stockholm.

Staff Change
After six years as GPF's Program Coordinator for Social and Economic Policy and Development Officer, Katarina Wahlberg left New York to move to Sweden. We held a farewell reception in our office on November 17. We welcomed Hilja Gebest who replaced Katarina in mid November.

Budget & Fundraising
In 2008, GPF's headquarters budget was $318,000. About half of this sum came from donations from individuals. The remainder came from foundations, partner organizations, fees and other sources. GPF Europe had a budget in 2008 of €120,000. Most of its funding comes from partner organizations and foundations, with the balance from individual members. With a consolidated budget total of $500,000, GPF accomplished a tremendous amount. We thank all the donors and friends whose support makes this work possible.

Global Policy Forum is supported primarily by contributions from generous individuals who join as members. GPF also receives grants from foundations and partner institutions. GPF is incorporated in the State of New York, registered as a charitable organization and recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the revenue code.



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