Participants in the 55th annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York City on September 5-9, adopted by consensus a wide-ranging statement asserting the international organization’s authority over global public policy.
In the Millennium Summit Declaration, 147 heads of state and dozens of other top officials vowed to send every child to primary school and deliver millions from destitution by 2015. By that date, they pledged to halt the spread of AIDS, malaria, and other major diseases.
The declaration–“Strengthening the United Nations for the 21stCentury”–was developed by 1,000 U.N.-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It identifies six “fundamental values” essential to international relations: freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, and a sense of shared responsibility.
On matters of war and peace, the Declaration demands the dismantling of all conventional and nuclear weapons, the prohibition of “unilateral deployment of nationwide missile defense by any country,” and a “standing Peace Force.” It calls for a “U.N. arms register” of all small arms and light weapons, and “peace education” covering “all levels from pre-school through university.”
According to the Declaration, the U.N. should have “political control of the global economy so that it may serve our vision.” Toward that end, the Declaration urges that the World Trade Organization be brought under U.N. control.
The Declaration also calls for the implementation of U.N. treaties not ratified by the United States, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights–which opponents warn denies the right to private property. The Declaration calls for the unratified International Criminal Court to exercise “compulsory jurisdiction” over all states, enforced by the U.N. Security Council.
Earth Charter withdrawn
Summit participants had been expected to hear and adopt another document, the so-called “Earth Charter,” being promoted by the NGO Forum. The charter was withdrawn, however, “probably to avoid distraction from the Millennium Declaration,” reported Henry Lamb of eco*logic.
The Earth Charter demands the nations of the world adopt “sustainable development plans and regulations” and asserts the U.N. must “manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life . . . [to] protect the health of ecosystems.” It states that “all beings are interdependent” and “every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings.”
The Charter insists the U.S. and other developed nations must “act with restraint and efficiency when using energy,” “eradicate poverty,” “promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations,” and “relieve them of onerous international debt.” It concludes by proclaiming that the “Way Forward” requires “a change of mind and heart” as we move toward “global interdependence and universal responsibility.”
Noting that 2002 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Rio Summit, Lamb anticipates the Earth Charter will be made the centerpiece of that celebration.
S. Fred Singer is president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project in Fairfax, Virginia. The group’s Web site is at http://www.sepp.org.