Panel talks on World Summit

For all of their contradictory viewpoints, panelists at a discussion yesterday on the United Nations 2005 World Summit were able to come to a consensus — the summit was a stepping stone for greater inter-governmental cooperation, they said.

The panel, chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, included Munir Akram, U.N. representative of Pakistan; Dirk Jen van den Berg, former U.N. representative of the Netherlands, and now the Netherlands’ ambassador to China; Robert Orr, assistant secretary-general for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning, and former director of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.; and Yale professor Paul Kennedy. Panelists touched upon their views of the summit, which was held in September, and each shared whether or not he would consider it a success.

“This is a very good start but there is a lot of work to be done,” Orr said.

Orr rattled off a list of the four main accomplishments of the summit including the first worldwide agreement on the Millennium Development Goals, which were established in 2000. The document produced by summit participants also condemned terrorism in all forms by all nations, created a new Human Rights Council to prevent crimes against humanity, and committed the U.N. to increasing the powers of its Economic and Social Councils and the General Assembly.

“This is the first major turnaround in development assistance since World War II,” Orr said.

But other panelists said the summit fell short of its goals.

“The outcome of the summit was not all we had hoped for,” Akram said. “The agenda became loaded as the process went along.”

Akram and van den Berg said that in the months leading up to the summit, the U.N. was distracted by the situation in Iraq, Kofi Annan’s new goals stated in March 2005, the Oil for Food crisis, and the reform and expansion of the U.N. Security Council.

“This was an extremely wide agenda to cope with in an intergovernmental environment.” van den Berg said.

Kennedy said the logistical realities and difficulties facing the U.N. also make it difficult for such a summit to have a large impact. He suggested reforming the U.N. by encouraging downsizing to effectively “clean out” the stables.

While Kennedy said the summit resulted in the creation of numerous resolutions, the success of these resolutions is not yet determined.

“Follow-up is vital,” Kennedy said. “The proof of the pudding will be in the cooking and the eating.”

Orr said an agreement on non-proliferation and disarmament was one of the glaring omissions from the summit’s document.

In closing statements, Zedillo asked Akram why Pakistan was one of the nations that objected to nonproliferation.

“Pakistan is against nonproliferation because it is always accompanied by disarmament,” Akram said. “If [disarmament is] applied to some countries and not others, it will be dangerous to the security of the world … This is not an issue of reaching compromises on language, this is an issue of national security.”

Most of the panelists agreed that the summit would not change the world overnight.

“This is not a big bang moment,” van den Berg said. “This is always a process.”

Panelists at the United Nations 2005 World Summit answer questions Tuesday. Yale’s representation on the panel included Ernesto Zedillo (far right), head of Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and professor Paul Kennedy (far left).
Carolyn Tobkin
Panelists at the United Nations 2005 World Summit answer questions Tuesday. Yale’s representation on the panel included Ernesto Zedillo (far right), head of Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and professor Paul Kennedy (far left).

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