From consensus-building to
implementation: The follow-up
to the UN global conferences
of the 1990s
The major United Nations global conferences of the 1990s focused international attention on key aspects of global change and development, including the environment, human rights, population, social development, and women. These conferences generated bold pronouncements and, with much fanfare, set forth ambitious internationally agreed goals and commitments. But it is the implementation of those goals that will determine whether each conference is ultimately a success or failure. The United Nations, to play its part in the implementation, has had to adapt to a major change in development strategies. The approach to development has become more integrative and holistic, and as a result, the institutional structure of the UN in the economic and social areas also had to evolve to put in place appropriate mechanisms for tackling the full spectrum of development issues from multisectoral and cross-sectoral perspectives.
This chapter aims to: (1) discuss how the major UN conferences broadened the definition of development which gave rise to the need for coordination within the UN in implementing the commitments made at the conferences; (2) identify the new and established institutional mechanisms designed to achieve that coordination; and (3) outline what the UN can do to strengthen and better coordinate its conference follow-up.