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A Call for Fruitful Dialogue between the US and the UN


Joy Pople, Assistant Communications Director, UPF
Washington DC, US

A good relationship between the US and the UN is essential to the functioning of the UN," said Dr. Noel Brown, President of Friends of the United Nations, in his opening speech of the International Symposium on the United States and the United Nations on October 22, 2007, the eve of United Nations Day. "If the dialogue between the US and the UN is to be fruitful, we need more occasions like this."

The symposium in Washington DC was sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, Friends of the United Nations, The Washington Times Foundation, and United Press International.

Dr. Brown read from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks prepared for the UN Day since he took office. "The Secretary General observes that "global problems demand global solutions, and going it alone is not a viable option," Dr. Brown reported, noting that the Secretary-General's office is reaching out to new constituencies, such as evangelical Christians and business leaders.

"The UN was grounded in the vision of Franklin Roosevelt, and the four fears that he spoke about confronting are the cornerstones of the UN charter," Dr. Brown said. "The core values of the UN are shared by the United States and challenged the assembly of about a hundred people to think about whether the core principles are still being upheld and what it would take to assert US leadership.

Amb. Anwarul Chowdhury from Bangladesh a former United Nations Under-Secretary General Amb. Anwarul Chowdhury from Bangladesh described several areas in which the US and UN have been engaged jointly engaged including peace and security, development, good governance, the role of civil society. He spoke of the need to view peace and security holistically and engage young people in the work of the United Nations and in building a culture of peace. "The most important role in building a culture of peace is that of the family," he added.

The United Nations Undersecretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Land-Locked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Amb. Chowdhury gave examples of youth in developing countries being involved in UN development projects. In response to a question afterwards about how to transmit a culture of peace to young people, he encouraged young people from industrialized countries to spend time in developing countries and build personal connections with people there.

Moderator Taj Hamad, Secretary General of the World Association of NGOs, quoted US President George W. Bush speaking about the role of civil society: "Government can spend money, but it cannot put hope in our heart or sense of purpose in our life. Often when life is broken it can only be result by another caring, concerned human being, someone whose actions say 'I love, you, I believe in you, I am in your corner.'"

Amb. Feliz A. Aniokoye, deputy permanent representative of Nigeria, reviewed the history of Africa's relationships with the UN. At its founding most of Africa was under colonial powers, and the US supported the UN's decolonization agenda. He expressed appreciation to the US for "doing quite a bit with the UN to support development in Africa," but added that "much more remains to be done." He referred to US concerns about promoting efficiency, openness and transparency in UN operations and expressed the desire to see the US support the inclusion of African representation on the UN Security Council.

Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of Universal Peace Federation, called for a greater understanding of religion and its role in shaping morals, ethics and outlooks. "Religious beliefs and actions affect economics beliefs and actions, political beliefs and actions, and social beliefs and actions," he explained. "Globalization has not eliminated the growing power of religion."

Question and Answer sessionTo solve common problems such as disease, poverty and climate change, "both the US and the UN should engage in ongoing dialogue with faith leaders to explore ways in which government and religions can be partners in the effort to solve critical global problems. At the same time, faith leaders need to meet together in dialogue and cooperation. They must go beyond competition and conflict and focus on service and the application of universal spiritual principles."

Hon. Earl Hilliard, former member of US Congress from Alabama, called upon the US and UN to cooperate fully, "so that the next 100 years will not be like the last 100 years. Millions of lives were lost to wars and major conflicts. I think the future necessitates cooperation on a scale unimagined." Noting recent natural catastrophes such as tsunamis and hurricanes, he urged not only the United States but other wealthy countries to come together under the auspices of the United Nations to plan how to deal with the crises of the future.

Former US Congressman for Washington DC, the Rev. Walter FauntroyOne person in the audience challenged the US administration's choice of a vocal critic of the UN as its Ambassador. Congressman Hilliard responded, "Men are born and men die, but institutions live on. What the UN does will always be criticized by friends and foes. I think that a large percentage of the people of the United States support the work of the United Nations, and I hope that you will see greater cooperation from the US Congress." Former congressman Walter Fauntroy added, "It is critical that we have religious leaders involved. I had a religious leader named Martin Luther King, who appealed to the moral center of this nation and its people. Religious leaders must be headlights and not taillights, thermostats and not thermometers."

H.E. Mr. Yahya A. Mahmassani, Ambassador and permanent Observer of the League of Arab States to the United Nations, referred to rough times in the relationship between the US and UN, such as during the Cold War era. "The issues that the world focuses on are the responsibility of both the US and the UN," he added. "Neither can solve the issues without the other. The UN has 192 members, and thus reflects the problems of 192 nations." He feels hopeful that with the aid of the US, it can transcend these problems.

In conclusion, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, Chairman of The Washington Times Foundation, noted that the "the UN developed from the US leaders who had a vision of a harmonious world. The inalienable rights to which the US Constitution refers come from our divine origin, God," he said. But in the UN charter there is as yet no such reference. He urged the US to return to its founding principles and the UN to seek a spiritual core for its work.

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