Magazine article UN Chronicle

World Leaders Adopt Declaration to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

Magazine article UN Chronicle

World Leaders Adopt Declaration to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

Article excerpt

It was the largest gathering of world leaders in history - presidents, prime ministers, kings, princes, sultans, Heads of State and Heads of Government of all races, creeds, colour and political background.

They converged on the 18-acre site of United Nations Headquarters in New York during three crisp fall days in October, their flag-bedecked limousine motorcades slowly wending their way through Manhattan streets and avenues - strangely empty due to the strictures of unprecedented security - arriving at UN Headquarters on First Avenue to pay homage to the existence for half a century of the world Organization.

"I welcome the Heads of the States and Governments of the world", Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in opening the special three-day commemorative session, from 22 to 24 October, which capped nine months of celebrations and observances worldwide of the UN's golden jubilee.

"Welcome to your home, the home of the world's peoples. Welcome to the forum of the United Nations - the forum of peace, understanding and development. Welcome to you all, and heartfelt greetings to the world's leaders."

General Assembly President Diogo Freitas do Amaral told the opening meeting: "Supporting the United Nations - that should be our collective pledge in this Special Commemorative Meeting. Reforming the United Nations - that should be our political commitment during these three days. We must not allow this Organization to die at the hands of its critics, nor to perish for lack of commitment of its supporters."

Over the next three days - from early Sunday morning through late Tuesday evening - some 200 speakers addressed the Assembly, including 129 Heads of State and Government, most of whom were present for the historic group photograph of debate participants (see cover and pp. 40-41) which recorded the unprecedented assemblage.

They also met, in their hotel rooms and mission offices throughout New York, to discuss ongoing political crises and problems on their everyday agendas, using the quiet behind-the-scenes diplomacy that characterizes the real world of international politics.

And there were social gatherings for the dignitaries and their spouses: luncheons in the UN's North Lounge, at round tables decorated with colourful flowers, and at the ancient Temple of Dendur exhibit inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art; a VIP dinner at New York's World Financial Center; a special concert by the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center, highlighted by Beethoven's Symphony No. 9; and an elegant reception inside the stone-lion-guarded New York Public Library, hosted by New York City's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Altogether, it was indeed at once a festive and dignified occasion - a time for praise and reflection, for plaudits and proposals.

At the end of the celebration, Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali told the assemblage: "Your presence speaks, as you have spoken, with eloquence, of confidence in the future of the United Nations." He added: "We have listened to the wisdom of these leaders. Together they have given the world an `Agenda for Tomorrow'. An Agenda covering every aspect of human society."

Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali also lauded the participation of non-governmental organizations, some of whose representatives had addressed the Assembly, stating they had "forged a new global partnership with the United Nations", as well as that of observers from non-member States and UN bodies throughout the world.

The UN's birthday - 24 October - also marked the beginning of the World Week of Peace, which was proclaimed by the Assembly as a time for Governments and peoples of the world to pause to reflect together on the challenges before them, as the UN celebrated its 50th anniversary.

"I appeal to all warring parties, everywhere in the world, to put down their arms and to seek peaceful means to achieve their ends", said Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali in a statement at the beginning of the Week. …

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