Social FORUM Message
Kofi Annan, United Nations
Porto Alegre, 4 February 2002
is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the World Social Forum,
delivered on his behalf by José
Antonio Ocampo, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin
America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
wish I could be with you in person today. The
wide range of issues you have been discussing in your Forum and its workshops,
as well as the variety and number of civil society groups represented, is truly
impressive. Yours is the kind of
engagement the United Nations relies on to be as effective and responsive as it
can be, in the service of the people it exists to represent.
know that you have come together to voice deep concerns and convictions about
the direction in which globalization is taking our world, and about what we
should do to remedy it. Some of
these I share, some of them I do not. But
whatever the case, I respect and share wholeheartedly your commitment to
improving the lives of individual men and women on this planet.
Indeed, if there is one guiding motto that the United Nations must work
under in the twenty-first century, it is to put people at the center of
everything we do.
I address the [World
Economic Forum] in New York later today, I shall do so
because I believe the participants in that gathering should hear some of the
concerns that you and I do have in common.
I will remind them that they are sharing this small planet with well over
a billion people who are denied the very minimum requirements of human dignity,
and with 4 or 5 billion whose choices in life are narrow, indeed, compared to
fact, our planet seems to many more and more like a small boat driven by a
fierce gale through dark and uncharted waters, with more and more people crowded
on board, hoping desperately to survive. None of us can afford to ignore the condition of our fellow
passengers on this little boat. If
they are sick, all of us risk infection. And
if they are angry, all of us can easily get hurt.
is not enough to say -- though it is true -- that without business the poor
would have no hope of escaping their poverty. Too many of them have no hope as it is. Those
who have the power and means, governments and business, must show that
economics, properly applied, and profits, wisely invested, can bring social
benefits within reach not only for the few, but for the many, and eventually for
at the same time, you in civil society must show that you are ready to work in
partnerships for change, rather than remain aloof through the politics of
confrontation. We cannot afford to
wait for perfect governance, or to engage in endless accusations and
discussions. The challenges at hand
are far too urgent. You will need to work with government and business, and
civil society in the developed world must join hands with colleagues in the
developing world to form alliances of common cause.
The way forward lies in finding constructive solutions together.
first, vital test will come as early as next month, with the International
Conference on Financing for Development, in Monterrey.
It offers us the best chance we have had, in many years, to unlock the
financial resources that are so desperately needed.
is essentially up to the governments of the world to make this happen. The
Conference must help developing countries to mobilize domestic resources, and
attract international private investment. There
should be agreement to conclude a comprehensive international convention against
corruption, providing, for example, for the repatriation of illicitly
trade, there must be a commitment on the part of the developed world to open its
markets fully and genuinely to developing country products, while removing
unfair subsidies to its own producers. At
the same time, many of the poorest countries must receive substantial assistance
in developing their infrastructure and capacities in order to benefit from trade
opportunities. And if we are to
reach the Millennium Development Goals -- including the halving of extreme
poverty in the world by 2015, to which all the world’s governments have
committed themselves -- we need an extra $50 billion of official development
assistance each year.
I will tell the
these issues can no longer be settled in private conclave among the rich and
powerful. The developing countries
have as a big a stake as anyone in the future of the world economy. Their views should count for something when decisions
affecting it are taken. The
Monterrey Conference should be the occasion for those who currently wield the
greatest influence to show that they are taking this subject seriously.
vital test will be the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg
this September -- an opportunity to rejuvenate the quest to build a more
sustainable future. The Summit must
bring the world together, and forge more cohesive global partnerships for the
implementation of Agenda 21. It
must send out a message that sustainable development is not only a necessity,
but also an exceptional opportunity to place our economies and societies on more
On all these challenges,
the United Nations will depend increasingly on the constructive engagement of
civil society. Our ability to improve the lives of the men and women of this
planet will depend on the ability of all sectors of society to move beyond
ideology, and work together in the search for pragmatic solutions. In that
mission, I hope I can rely on you. The
United Nations looks forward to an ever stronger partnership with you in the
months and years ahead. Thank you
all. Muito obrigado!
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