United Nations

Millennium Forum planning continues

UNITED NATIONS -- Efforts to draw broad support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide have been the main focus of the planning process for a proposed Millennium Forum, which backers hope to hold here in the summer of 2000 in connection with a scheduled UN Millennium Summit meeting.

An interim steering committee, which was appointed by an ad hoc gathering of NGOs in July 1998, worked throughout the fall to establish both an organizational structure that will draw into the planning process well-respected NGO leaders and activists from both North and South and a mechanism by which such a structure and its membership can be confirmed.

A two-day meeting to establish the organizational structure and membership of the Forum's leadership has been scheduled for 22-23 February at the UN. An earlier meeting, which had been scheduled for 2 December 1998, was cancelled to allow the interim steering committee more planning time.

The main purpose of the Forum, which was previously called the "Millennium NGO Forum," would be to channel the "ideas and visions" of NGOs at all levels for presentation to the UN Millennium Summit, which is scheduled to be held during the first two weeks of the UN General Assembly's 55th meeting in September 2000.

The proposed organizational structure is built around three committees. The largest, the Planning Consultative Council, which will set policy for the Forum, will be composed of 100 or more members. Its membership has been put forward by the interim steering committee in a way designed to reflect the global nature of world civil society as well as the broad range of thematic issues to be addressed by the Forum.

At the second level, a Steering Committee of approximately 30 members will be the primary planning and decision-making body of the Forum. Its membership has been proposed by the current interim steering committee and it will be confirmed at the February meeting.

Finally, an Executive Committee, composed mainly of the officers of the Steering Committee, will direct the day-to-day operations of the Forum, overseeing the work of an Executive Director and staff.

Among those who have already agreed to serve on the Steering Committee, subject to confirmation, are: Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, acting executive director of the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO); Bill Pace, secretary general of the Hague Appeal for Peace 1999; Mia Adjali, UN representative for the General Board of Global Ministries; Malick Gaye, head of Environmental Development in the Third World; and Amparo Claro of the Latin American and Caribbean Health Network.