PRESS CONFERENCE BY EUROPEAN UNION
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
13 September 2005
While the draft outcome document of the 2005 World Summit fell short of European expectations, it was far from the disaster some critics had foreseen, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Union External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference today.
On the positive side, agreement reached on a new Peacebuilding Commission was a “real achievement”, which would increase multilateral response to conflicts worldwide, said Ms. Ferrero-Waldner, who was joined by Louis Michel, European Union Development and Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner. The draft, which focuses on the Millennium Development Goals and United Nations reform, also recognized the need to protect populations from ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As for reform to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, she noted that the document proposed to double the Organization’s human rights budget and create a democracy fund. The Union was disappointed, however, that it focused only on changing the Commission’s name, rather than on needed reform. Stressing that the Commission should have a higher status, as well, and members with solid human rights records, she said that “too much [human rights reform] had been put off for another day.”
The document had also failed to satisfy the Union’s environmental hopes -- namely, a new and well-financed environmental body, as well as increased commitments for sustainable development, which were crucial in fighting poverty, she said. Adding that the Union was also disappointed in the text’s proposals for reform to United Nations management, she questioned whether the Secretary-General possessed the needed authority to tackle the problems he faced.
Addressing the Millennium Goals, Mr. Michel emphasized the need for increased resources in attaining those targets, noting that the Union contributed 0.36 per cent of gross domestic product to official development assistance (ODA) in 2004 and expected to increase that figure to 0.60 per cent by 2015.
He said the Union was working to harmonize development policy among its members, with a particular focus on Africa, where it supported country ownership of development, increased aid, and regional integration. Stressing that the world could no longer make excuses, he said it must take vital steps to suppress poverty, and help the children in developing countries reach a brighter future.
Asked about her biggest disappointment with the document, Ms. Ferrero-Waldner mentioned the lack of any substantive change to the Human Rights Commission, and the weak response to environmental issues, noting the serious consequences of Hurricane Katrina in the southern United States.
Responding to a question on the Union’s African focus, rather than on such regions as Latin America, Mr. Michel said the situation was worse in Africa, where nations lacked the administration and infrastructure to provide adequate education, justice and other needed services.
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For information media • not an official record
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