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Post-Rio Sustainable Development and the Summit

Maurice F. Strong

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Making the UN More Businesslike

In the meantime, much can be done to ameliorate the effectiveness and the service of the UN to its member states and the world community through improvements in its management. Governments must strongly support management changes that will make the UN system more effective. And the same is true for the Bretton Woods organizations. More effective management of these organizations will give governments, and citizens, greater confidence in them, and improve the prospects for agreement on the kind of charter changes that are needed.

These charter changes must give effect to the new configuration of economic and political power that has emerged since the institutions were established a halfcentury ago. The United Nations Security Council and the composition of the Boards of the World Bank and the IMF must reflect the growing power of the developing countries, as well as the leading roles of Japan and Germany. It will require a major act of statesmanship, equivalent to that which led to the creation of the Bretton Woods Institutions and the United Nations in the aftermath of World War II, to effect these changes in a way which will provide all member states ¾ the major powers, the middle powers and the poor and the weak ¾ with confidence in the integrity of the organizations and their capacity as well as their will to meet the needs and protect the interests of all nations. To apply selectively the principles of the UN Charter simply on behalf of those who happen to enjoy the confidence, or engage the interest and attention, of the greater powers at a given moment in time is not adequate as the basis for the effective functioning of an organization. Today, political conditions are not conducive to such an act of statesmanship. Statesmen are unwilling to lead in this process of change. Perhaps that leadership will emerge at the G7.

The system will not function effectively if it is viewed by the majority as responding primarily and selectively to the interests and priorities of the powerful few; nor can it be effective if the most powerful feel that the system is hostage to the numerical majority of its membership and hostile or apathetic to their interests as the minority. There must be a balance in any process of constitutional change. The poorest and weakest of nations, and those experiencing troubles that impinge on their national viability, should be a particular priority for attention. In these times, this will include some of the least developed and most disadvantaged nations of SubSaharan Africa. Special attention, too, should be devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of minorities, particularly of women and indigenous peoples.

Greater provision must also be made for dialogue and cooperation with the nongovernmental organizations of civil society, building on the experience at the Earth Summit, in which we had the engagement of more nongovernmental organizations than had ever participated in any other world conference. And this precedent was furthered at the UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. More reality should be accorded to the "We the people...." introduction to the preamble to the UN Charter, and this can be done without in any way infringing on the basic power and responsibilities of member states.

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