By Joseph Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis Permanent Delegate to the UN
MDG2010 Summit was conceived as a significant opportunity to galvanize commitments, address past promises toward urgent implementation and reignite global, regional and national actions to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals are a series of anti-poverty targets.
Part of the UN’s planning for the MDG2010 Summit in September began months ago when the President of the 64th General Assembly was asked to convene “Informal Interactive Hearings of the General Assembly with non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector.”
The UN General Assembly (GA) President formed a Task Force of diverse representatives from civil society and the private sector to specifically advise him and his team on the format for truly interactive dialogue with Member States – and substantive participation.
Caritas was appointed to serve on the 13-member Task Force which has been meeting for several months.
Dialogue has been sustained with weekly conference calls connecting regional and world priorities, meetings with UN colleagues from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) and the GA Presidents office, as well as other UN offices engaged with the Millennium Campaign leadership for implementations.
Nominations for speakers to the Hearings came through an efficient online application process. Near 800 nominations came in from around the world for the 52 Civil Society Organisation speaking roles.
Task Force members engaged with candidates to finalise a list of speakers.
Today those speakers and respondents arrived at a conference room in the temporary UN facility adjacent to UN headquarters.
What was global became local during three plus hours of lively discussion, briefing and inevitable preparation logistics around ways in which civil society can have an impact on Member States and UN processes. They came. They saw. They heard – what a large task is upon them to seize these moments.
Caritas Manila will be in New York as a Civil Society Organisation. Caritas France will be a respondent representing a national anti-poverty platform in which it works. Caritas Lebanon is on the list of observers.
Sudanese bishops are here too. As part of their advocacy itinerary for peace and development, they will readily remind Security Council members and others at the UN that development effectiveness toward peace and human security starts exactly where they came from – local communities, families, human beings.
The Hearings have been described as a unique opportunity. Indeed, it’s an opportune moment demanding objective concrete communication with succinct messages.
These hearings demand that we ‘Stand up, Speak out’ – managing objective global expectations into concrete recommendations which can hold all stakeholders accountable.
Civil Society hearings offer modest opportunities to put expert recommendations and experiences into concrete, rights-based evidences which speak loudly to humanitarian and development priorities for all communities, women, men, children, elderly, displaced, disabled, indigenous and neglected.
Vulnerable peoples from least developed countries, from small island nations to conflict countries and post-conflict nations, understandably compete for the attention of local and global leaders. They compete for our attention as much as anyone’s. They need to know we see them. They ask to know if we consistently see them. No excuses. Either we do or we don’t. Every voice counts. What do we hear? What do we present when governments and development discussions invite our inputs.
This is the deal. Right here, right now. Simply put: speak truth to power, boldly, respectfully, without apology. Caritas colleagues throughout the Confederation have added their voices to this MDG review, building hopes and expectations for 2010, for 2011 and well beyond 2015. It’s who we are as Caritas, not just what we do or manage.