2005 World Summit

By Hagen, Jonas | UN Chronicle, September-November 2005 | Go to article overview

2005 World Summit


Hagen, Jonas, UN Chronicle


Some 150 Heads of State and Government, the largest-ever assemblage of world leaders, gathered at UN Headquarters in New York from 14 to 16 September for the 2005 World Summit. The Summit had been originally conceived as a follow-up to the anti-poverty goals of the 2000 Millennium Summit. Then, in 2003, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the General Assembly that the United Nations had come to "a fork in the road," with new global threats and challenges facing it. Also high on his agenda was the "radical reform" of the United Nations, so he appointed a 16-member panel to evaluate the Organization's capacity to manage contemporary threats to international peace and security. Main proposals of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change included new guidelines on the use of force, Security Council reform, creation of a Human Rights Council and a Peacebuilding Commission. Mr. Annan incorporated these suggestions into the preparatory document for the 2005 World Summit. He presented that document, "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security, and Human Rights for All", to the General Assembly in March 2005.

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With national and regional delegations giving their input to a team of facilitators led by the fifty-ninth General Assembly President, Jean Ping of Gabon, negotiations began and were dominated over the summer months by such issues as Security Council reform. Two differing groups were vying for support for their plans to enlarge the Council, which currently has five permanent members--China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The proposal by the "Group of Four" countries--Brazil, Germany, India and Japan--all of whom aspire for permanent seats, would have the Council's membership increase from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members. Under the "Uniting for Consensus" plan, presented by Canada, Colombia, Italy and Pakistan, the Council would consist of 20 elected members--6 from Africa; 5 from Asia; 4 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 3 from Western Europe and other States; and 2 from Eastern Europe--in addition to the five permanent members.

The Summit process changed dramatically on 17 August with the submission by the United States of 750 alterations to a 39-page text of proposed reforms. Among the changes were for a UN Secretariat with more decision-making capability and the removal of all 14 references to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With time running out before the World Summit, negotiations intensified on nearly all aspects of the draft outcome document. Countries involved in the main negotiations dwindled from 100 to a core group of 15. As they negotiated into the early hours of the days leading up to the deadline, many delegations feared that the entire outcome would only be a four-page document. At 2:00 a.m. on 12 September, the text still contained 50 brackets or points that had not yet been agreed upon. Mr. Ping and his team went over the text on 13 September, trying to find the language that all delegations could agree upon. The 40-page compromise text was submitted that morning to the core group and survived, with precise language for many sensitive issues. …

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