United Nations-Sponsored World Conferences: Focus on Impact and Follow-Up

By Michael G. Schechter | Go to book overview

9
Conclusions
Michael G. Schechter

While global ad hoc conferences are not new, those of the 1990s were larger, more expensive, better publicized and more frequently attended by heads of state and government than ever before. Still, sceptics abound as to their substantive emphases, ideological orientation, and indeed their very worth. Accordingly, with the United States government in the lead, severe constraints have been placed on the future of such conferences until they prove their worth. It is the contention of this volume that the role of non-state actors, significantly including NGOs and the UN Secretariat itself, in the follow-up to the conferences, are among the keys to answering the sceptics' concerns. Of course, as the various studies herein document, the ability of non-state actors, including international lawyers, to effectuate global change in the direction sought by the various conference participants is related to the documents drafted at meetings preparatory to the conferences and agreed to at the conferences themselves. In those documents, often reflective of the work of NGOs themselves, states have, much more often than in the past, empowered non-state actors to assist in effectuating that change, including by monitoring the progress of states in fulfilling the commitments made at the conferences.

Jolly's chapter on the World Summit for Children offers a number of important answers to the critics of global ad hoc conferences. Jolly carefully documents the achievements of the WSC to date, as well as those goals not yet realized. Significantly, he also discusses the relationship between the World Summit and the widely-praised Convention on the

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