Executive Report of the World Civil Society Forum
The World Civil Society Forum was held at the International
Conference Centre of Geneva, from the 14th to the 19th July 2002, with parallel
activities from the 8th to the 20th July 2002. Through
its various activities, the Forum attracted about a thousand participants who
represented over 500 organizations, from about 70 countries, of which a
majority were developing countries.
The aim of the World Civil Society Forum is
to strengthen international cooperation. It focused on the
four objectives adopted during the preparatory process:
- To facilitate cooperation between civil society and the UN system,
including specialised agencies and other international organizations;
- To promote cooperation among civil society organizations across the world
and working in different fields of activity, especially with developing
countries and indigenous peoples;
- To create a space for dialogue on the relation between the different
stakeholders of the international scene, such as civil society organizations,
international organizations, governments and the private sector;
- To consider the constitution of a permanent forum.
About 200 sessions and activities were provided,
including information and discussion sessions, training sessions,
workshops, thematic working groups, a youth forum and cultural
activities. About 300 panellists from 200 organizations, including
most international organizations and UN agencies, brought
their expertise to the Forum. It enabled them to discuss complex
issues, such as the relation between NGOs and the private
sector, and the right of peoples to self-determination.
About ten training sessions were offered to some 150
participants from developing countries and over 60 computers
were distributed for specific projects in developing countries.
Social and Cultural Activities were organized in the framework
of a civil society village, providing a multicultural environment
in which people could meet and present their organization.
It included musical concerts, theatre, films, food stalls
and photographic exhibitions open to the public.
The Forum gave the floor to over 20 Keynote
speakers from both civil society organizations and UN
agencies. Several heads of international organizations and
UN agencies expressed their support for the Forum and their
interest in reinforcing their cooperation links with civil
society organizations, including the Secretaries-General and
Directors-General of the United Nations Organization, the
International Organization for the Francophonie, the International
Labour Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD), the World Health Organization, the
High Commissioner on Human Rights and others.
The Forum attracted organizations from all fields of activity.
It brought together international organizations, UN agencies, NGOs,
international federations, networks, indigenous peoples, academics,
foundations, journalists, parliamentarians, trade unions, as well as some
governmental and private sector representatives. Through the wide diversity of
fields of activity represented, the Forum provided an important opportunity to
network, generating new links of cooperation among the participants, especially
with the international organizations and UN agencies.
The participants adopted about 145 recommendations for
strengthening international cooperation with a focus on the
- Civil Society Cooperation with the UN and other International Organizations
- Indigenous Peoples, Gender and Development
- Information Society
- Environment, Trade and Sustainable Development
- Peace and Disarmament
- Health Promotion
- Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
- Private Sector
- Right of Peoples to Self-Determination
Some of these recommendations addressed the preparation of the
World Summit on the Information Society, as well as the World Summit on
Sustainable Development. All the recommendations are to be submitted to the
relevant organizations and to be followed up.
The participants voted with a large majority in favour of an ongoing
forum and supported the further development of its activities.
Participants recommended organizing another Forum in two to
four years’ time. It was recommended that, in the meantime,
a wide process of consultation be established throughout the
The Youth Forum decided to continue
its activities and to organize another Youth Forum, parallel
to the main World Civil Society Forum, to reinforce the participation
of youth in international cooperation and in decision processes.
A Coordination Council was set up
to support the ongoing Forum. It brings together organizations
from the various parts of the World and fields of activities,
including youth and indigenous peoples' representatives. The
Coordination Council will guarantee that all regions and fields
of activity are consulted and involved in the process. At
the time of the report, 43 organizations confirmed their participation
in the Coordination Council. The participants also accepted
that the Steering Committee
continue with changes in its shape and composition.
The participants recommended that a Secretariat
be established in Geneva with the support of Mandat International.
Delegates also pointed out the importance of Geneva in view
of the presence of the UN, most international organizations
and specialized agencies, as well as hundreds of NGOs and
In conclusion, the World Civil Society Forum confirmed the
increasing role of civil society organizations on the international scene and
within the UN system, as well as the combined will to reinforce cooperation
between international organizations and civil society
organizations. It also stressed the will of many organizations from developing
countries to strengthen their participation in the UN system.