Joseph Cornelius DONNELLY,
58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference
It is my distinct pleasure and honor to offer
these closing remarks this afternoon on behalf of our many distinguished guests, speakers,
interested member states, UN colleagues and all of you, the nearly 2000
representatives of NGOs and civil society from 698 organizations
in 86 countries - as well as those others among the 3700 registrants
who could not come to NY.
It has been an extraordinary amount of work during the last nine
months, shared, developed and animated by 14 co-chairs, dozens of Planning
Committee members, UN staff, dedicated interns and generous volunteers
- without whom we could not do it.
My thanks to all for the confidence and support offered to me from
near and far, including my own colleagues from the Caritas Internationalis
confederation in 162 countries. Thank you to Shashi Tharoor and
my UN/DPI partner, Paul Hoeffel. Special thanks
to Mrs. Sharin Ebadi for the inspiration and challenge she has offered to us all.
We conquered - some of the silence in this house.
We have spoken boldly without apologies to insure that every
We have spoken precisely to underscore the urgent needs of humanity.
We have reminded everyone and each other of the call to eradicate
We have reminded everyone and ourselves that the MDGs are ours,
that 2015 is now.
This has been and remains far more than a numbers game. Whether
we focus on MDG indicators or a specific millennium
development goal, the essence of our coming
together, communicating and demanding to be
heard, is rooted in the deepest spirit of
the Millennium Declaration and its Year 2000
pledges. We have come to this historic house
where challenge, renewal and partnership is
imperative to confirm our absolute and unconditional
commitment to humanity, to the very real six
billion people who are our neighbors everywhere.
We the peoples are a force for good.
We the peoples are a vital presence for everything essential here
at the UN.
Aristotle said long ago in other challenging times of development
"Adversity introduces a person to himself/herself."
In these days we have faced together a part of the challenge. We have passed
through many, many doors and buzzing, even chaotic corridors, but
we have much more to do...much more to do.
Our voices have been heard as evidenced by
the outstanding people with us today -NGOs,
Civil Society leaders, UN executives, Parliamentarians,
Member States, human rights, development,
peace and security experts and countless colleagues
who have come to this Conference, to this
very room, to confirm their partnership.
Echoes of these days are all around us, some general, public, others
private, quiet. The sound of the MDG Campaign's white bands being
unwrapped in the General Assembly Hall. What an incredible, inspiring
memory that will be! Networking at the special tent at the Canadian
doors on the esplanade. Roundtable ruminations from-the-ground during
the discussion toward eradicating poverty. Messages communicated in-between
sessions, meals and side-events. "Years
ago I promised to do more, but I didn't -
now I will to do something!"
And what can that "something" be? Where do we go from
here? Last year a Member State serving on the Security Council advised some of us:
"We welcome the serious inputs from responsible NGOs. We can and need
to hear you. Please don't send 10,000 more
emails; instead send 10 solid recommendations. Your voices will be heard."
So we need to ask ourselves this afternoon:
What voice(s) have I heard here at this Conference?
Which voice will I never forget?
What can we replicate from the force, insights and energies of
How will we shape these enthusiastic echoes into concrete and
What about the 59th Annual Conference, a global gathering of NGOs?
What will our shared, North/South/East/West agenda be?
What will we as persons and NGOs contribute to the planning process?
It's been wonderful to hear specific pledges of support/interest
in these days from two colleagues from the UK, two from Spain, one from
Kenya, several from the USA, ready to work
on next years programme. On our interactive
website/dialogue one person suggested a "Decade
of Compliance." Another person suggested:
"Ethics Facing NGOs in the 21st Century."
Someone else looking forward suggested the
theme be: "AFTER 2015 - What?" And
another colleague suggested: "Hunger-Faces
It seems now that this 58th Annual Conference will be recorded
in the UN archives as part of the critical moment, the "kairos"
moment, when needs, challenges, peoples and partners met in full force to assure our
constituencies, six billion people around the world, that this
Summit opportunity will not be squandered... that without question every
voice counts, that we unequivocally accept and honor the challenge given
to us by Secretary General Annan, that we will keep making our voices
heard loud and clear enough, to lift the sky
- now and later, that we will keep
responsibly raising our voices to hold governments to their promises
- and finally, that as always we stand ready to be partners translating
promises into ACTIONS... actions that, indeed, enlarge freedom for all.
We have seized this day!
Don't let go!
Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Chair
58th Annual DPI/NGO Conference