Summary: Plenary Session
On-going Forum: open discussion
||18 July 2002, 09:00-11:00
Moderator(s):|| • Mr. Sébastien Ziegler, President of the World Civil Society Forum Steering Committee, Mandat International (MI)|
Presenters/ Participants:|| • Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland (Video Message), Secretary-General, World Health Organization (WHO)|
• H.E. Vladimir Petrovsky, United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG)
• Mr. Yoshiyuki Takagi, Network Earth Village
||Jamil Abousamra (ICVolunteers)
||Continuation, WCSF, vote
The goal of this plenary session was to discuss the possibility of a permanent World Civil Society Forum (WCSF). A video message by Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntland, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), and speeches by some key NGO representatives marked the beginning, and a discussion followed regarding whether or not to hold a similar event next year. Some delegates worried that in its current form and with so few delegates present, it was inadvisable to consider holding another
forum, while other delegates pushed for its continuation as a platform for small non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to voice their opinions and to build links with representatives of the various United Nations organizations.
In her video message, Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntland emphasized the importance of relationships between
the World Health Organization (WHO) and civil society organizations and representatives, saying that new alliances between WHO and NGOs needed to be created.
Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, former Director General of the UN in Geneva and President of the Conference on Disarmament, stated that the role of civil society in
Government was important, because of the close relationship between NGOs and the general public. Democracy, he said, was impossible in a
country where civil society has no say. He also spoke of the increasing importance of civil society in the decision-making processes of the United Nations.
Only by the creation of a global network linking all constituents of civil society, said Mr. Yoshiyuki Takagi, President of the Earth Network Village, is it possible for NGOs to be fully informed of the issues and to work together to solve problems. He felt that this network should be a priority of the WCSF. He concluded his speech by talking about his organization's creation of the United Global Citizens Caucus at the Bali Conference.
Continuing Forum: Reports of the Working Groups
Regional coordinators were invited by Mr. Sebastien Ziegler to make their comments. Mr. Will Taylor from the University of Wales felt that delegates needed to talk about how to make the WCSF more useful, before considering its continuation.
In his opinion, the WCSF featured too many speeches and not enough concrete decisions.
Mr. Keith Hindell
of the UN United Nations Association U.K. remarked that the Forum was a good start, the result of two
years of hard work, and that it would be counterproductive to waste the efforts already made.
The following proposals were made regarding the continuation of the WCSF:
Proposal 1 made by Ms. Eva Bjorklund of the Swedish Delegation, suggested a "two-way continuation of the
Forum". The proposal called for the promotion of civil society on the local and regional level and for the "preparation of an international civil society educational conference in two or three
years time". Ms. Bjorklund explained that many delegates were ignorant of the work done by civil society in their own region or country and it was thus necessary to first strengthen the regional ties before considering creating ties between NGOs on a worldwide scale.
Proposal 2 presented by Mr. Rob Wheeler, supported the continuation of the WCSF as a way for civil society to "promote and work for a common global agenda", "educate the public about issues of primary global concern", and "provide support for various civil society initiatives on which there is a broad consensus". He explained that
Governments often dismissed civil society, claiming that its various voices were not representative of the public, and said that a continuing WCSF would be a means of creating a body, which was more representative of all civil society and of all peoples and cultures.
Ms. Anna Llorinda asked for an explanation of the visa problem concerning African delegates. Mr. Ziegler assured her that he and the other organizers had done all that was in their power to resolve the problem.
He added that this was unfortunately not a new problem, but one that needed some
thought on how to better respond to all interests, both of the visa seekers and
the Swiss embassies -afraid that some Africans were coming on false pretences, hoping to stay in
It was decided after much deliberation that a vote by ballot would be carried out in the afternoon. This vote would decide on the continuation of the WCSF.
Presenters' Documents Available
18.01_yoshiyuki_takagi.doc (23 K)
here for all available presenters' documents
here for all available summaries
read about the summaries