What Would a 'Revitalized' Second Committee Look Like?

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An NGO Perspective by Richard Jordan, Global Education Associates

This reflection on what a revitalized Second Committee would look like is based on the conception of partnership among delegations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a concept that has gained more and more in popularity within the United Nations system.

The first of three points I would like to make, given my 10-years experience within the system - not a great deal by some standards, since a number of my NGO colleagues have experience dating back to just before the United Nations Charter took effect - deals with NGOs.

NGOs that have status with the Economic and Social Council can suggest agenda items for consideration by the General Assembly; however, in my memory, I really cannot recall any NGO taking advantage of this suggestion.

Let me suggest a hypothetical example: the International Olympic Committee two years ago modified its charter to include environment, along with sports and culture, as the third leg of the Olympic triangle. The Olympic Movement invites the youth of the world to gather every four years in the spirit of peace and cooperation. Why has no NGO involved with youth suggested an agenda item on the topic of enhanced relations for youth within the UN system and the Olympic Movement regarding environmental protection?

There was debate at the opening of the Forty-ninth General Assembly session on a resolution dealing with the Olympic Truce that brought in discussion of humanitarian work during the Truce, led by H.R.H. Prince Albert of Monaco. Certainly, the topics dealt with in that debate should not be allowed to die; however, within the context of the Second Committee, ways in which youth could be encouraged to become model global environmental citizens could be worked out with United Nations Environment Programme, which has a project on Global Environmental Citizenship, and the International Olympic Committee.

Secondly, I would address delegations: a great deal of time is taken up in the general debate in the Second Committee. Why not deal with the general debate by taking advantage of electronic communications? Put the general debate in the Internet and invite reactions from NGOs, parliamentarians and religious leaders worldwide to e-mail comments on how to build upon the general debate? …