World Federation of United Nations Associations commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UN Interview: Mrs. Bruna Faidutti, WFUNA Representative and Director, Geneva Office
The World Federation of United Nations Associations is the only non-governmental organisation accredited with the Economic and Social Council having as its primary objective the promotion of the principles of the United Nations Charter. WFUNA is supported by more than 100 National Associations, and are working directly at the national level on information and educational programmes to eradicate illiteracy and AIDS, and to promote global development.
Q: How does the World Federation of United Nations Associations commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations?
A: In Geneva, WFUNA will organise two major events on 21st October 2005: A day long conference with high-level personalities to speak about "the United Nations and its future", followed by a formal Dinner which will take place at the Palais des Nations.
The Conference will be held immediately after the General Assembly in New York has considered the possible changes in the Organisation regarding the Security Council, the Commission of Human Rights, the Economic and Social Council, and in the Secretariat. This is to revamp the United Nations in accordance with the programme set by the Secretary General.
We are in fact taking advantage of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the UN to organise these events. We will invite the participation of Non-governmental organisations, our UN associations and other partners of the civil society including business community and share with them the view of the United Nations. We hope to receive feedback from them on the discussions that will take place and also their input on how this organisation should be made effective
The Under-Secretary General for Public Information and Communications, Mr Shashi Tharoor, has agreed to speak on the topic of "Creating the United Nations of the 21st Century". I also hope the President of Latvia Ms Vaira Vike-Freiberga will accept to be one of the key speakers as she has been entrusted by the Secretary-General to speak and coordinate the work about "the UN for the future". The Director General of the UN Office in Geneva will be attending the Conference, as well as a number of Swiss authorities, in addition to other personalities in the public and intellectual spheres. We also hope to include "thinkers" such as Milan Kundera, H. Excellency Mr. Karim Aga Khan. From an economic point of view, we have invited Mr Stiglitz, the new Director General of WTO, Mr Pascal Lamy and other prominent economists.
From the private sector we have among others invited the CEO of Renault, Mr. Schweitzer, an accomplished businessman and who has also been appointed by President Chirac of France to work on the questions of discrimination.
The Conference will be followed by a celebratory Dinner., Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director General of United Nations Office at Geneva, has been very supportive in all our events and activities, in particular in the area of education, such as the organization of WFUNA seminars and other Conferences.
Q: How many persons do you expect at your events?
Regarding the Dinner, we will have 20 tables with 10 guests occupying each table, totalling 200 guests altogether, whereas for the conference, we expect about 300 participants. Participants wishing to attend the Conference would simply be required to send a positive response to our invitationThe dinner is planned as a charitable event. The Dinner is planned to support WFUNA programmes such as the eradication of illiteracy, poverty and AIDS. These programmes are connected with the main components of the Millennium Development Goals. All the diplomatic missions will receive an invitation, and we are hoping to encourage other partners (private companies, enterprises etc.) who strongly believe in the UN, to attend. In fact, we aim to make it as large and as inclusive as possible in accordance with the objectives of our Federation.
The conference is more an exchange of views on the direction in which the United Nations is heading and I would say it is more of a brainstorming event. The dinner, as I mentioned earlier, is a celebratory event, and also at the same time aims to confirm the commitments to the activities of the World Federation and the UN, based on the Programme of the Secretary General. We therefore hope that this dinner will be a success.
What do you expect as the outcome of this conference?
As the result of the discussions, we expect to present a WFUNA conference paper, a kind of a conclusion, which would summarize our objectives and our commitments, namely the eradication of illiteracy, poverty and AIDS.
Since we began the operations at the Palais two years ago, we have solidified our activities, and we look forward to the changes proposed by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the UN Reform The Federation is known as an organisation that creates serious and concrete programmes and we would like to continue our work in that direction.
Q: What if you would get more requests to participate than you initially thought? How are you going to make the selection?
I do not think we are going to have this situation, but if it does occur, we will be very happy. The Palais des Nations is very large. There will be enough space for everybody!