The Millennium Summit Declaration set out the vision of heads of state and government for the United Nations’ role in the 21st century and commitments to promote peace, development and social justice. The Declaration emphasized that to fulfill its mission, the UN’s need to work in partnership with civil society. Harri Holkeri, President of the Millennium General Assembly, convened leading civil society actors, permanent representatives to the United Nations, and senior officials of the UN system.
Susan Podziba conducted assessment interviews to develop a process design that would draw on the varied perspectives, values and expectations of the symposium participants. The meeting focused on two broad questions:
1. What can the UN do to encourage and enhance participation of civil society?
2. What opportunities can be created for civil society to participate in all levels of the UN system including: Offices of the Secretary General and General Assembly President, General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC and specialized agencies, programs, and Functional Commissions, as well as UN conferences and Special sessions of the Assembly?
The symposium participants contributed to several proposals concerning NGO consultative arrangements with the UN General Assembly, accreditation procedures to UN meetings, briefing programs on civil society for UN officials and delegates, strategies for NGO capacity-building and collaborative partnerships, as well as possibilities for enabling increased contact between the President of the General Assembly and NGOs. All were outlined in the Symposium Report.