The Millennium Summit was a meeting among many world leaders lasting three days from 6 September to 8 September 2000 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Its purpose was to discuss the role of the United Nations at the turn of the 21st century. At this meeting, world leaders ratified the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This meeting was the largest gathering of world leaders in history as of the year 2000. It was followed by the World Summit five years later, which took place from 14 September to 16 September 2005.
The General Assembly Resolution that decided upon this summit stated that it attempted to seize "a unique and symbolically compelling moment to articulate and affirm an animating vision for the United Nations."
In this summit, 189 member states of the United Nations agreed to help citizens in the world's poorest countries to achieve a better life by the year 2015. The framework for this progress is outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. Also known as the MDGs, these goals were derived from the Millennium Declaration. This summit was focused on various global issues, such as poverty, AIDS, and how to share the benefits of globalisation more fairly.
On 5 September 2000, delegates around the world began to travel to the United States for the Millennium Summit. The delegation of North Korea was inspected at Frankfurt International Airport by American airline officials during a stop in Germany. American Airlines personnel demanded that the members of the delegation and their belongings be searched. In response to these demands, the North Korean government withdrew its delegation from the Summit. As diplomats, the officials should not have been subject to search.
Over 150 world leaders participated in the discussion, including 100 heads of state, 47 heads of government, three crown princes, five Vice Presidents, three Deputy Prime Ministers, and 8,000 other delegates. The Group of 77 was also present to discuss the changes the United Nations faced at the turn of the 21st century.
The President of Finland Tarja Halonen and the President of Namibia Sam Nujoma co-chaired the Millennium Summit. This was due to the Presidency over the General Assembly of Theo-Ben Gurirab in the fifty-fourth session and that of Harri Holkeri in the fifty-fifth session. Therefore, the heads of state of Finland and Namibia were chosen to preside over the summit.
On Wednesday, 6 September 2000, the Millennium Summit was opened by Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Before moving into the summit, Annan called for a minute's silence for four United Nations workers who were killed in West Timor by pro-Indonesian militiamen. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a plea for world peace and disarmament. Sixty-three other speakers spoke for five minutes each. In the duration of the summit, Bill Clinton held separate meetings with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat, calling on them to reach a peace agreement among the two nations, although no actual progress was made in doing so. Both sides were still committed to reaching such an agreement, however.
On Thursday, 7 September 2000, various heads of state discussed peacekeeping issues. They discussed these issues at a round-table meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Seventy speakers were scheduled for this day during the summit, including Chinese President Jiang Zemin, South African President Thabo Mbeki, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and President of Sierra Leone Ahmad Kabbah.
The final day of the Millennium Summit, Friday, 8 September 2000, ended after 60 world leaders said their speeches for five minutes each. The speakers included Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Middle East Peace Negotiations
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called for Yaser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, to reach an agreement with him. During the summit, Barak stated:
"The opportunity for peace in the Middle East is now at hand and must not be missed. Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, now calls for a peace of honour, of courage and of brotherhood. We recognise that Jerusalem is also sacred to Muslims and Christians around the world and cherished by our Palestinian neighbours. A true peace will reflect all these bonds."
Yaser Arafat responded to Ehud Barak's comments by saying the Palestinians have already contributed to the peace efforts by making significant sacrifices towards a compromise between the two countries.
The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair urged the overhaul of the United Nations' peacekeeping forces. He called for the creation for a military staff to supervise the operations. The former American President Bill Clinton also stressed the importance of these peacekeeping missions.
The Millennium Declaration
The Millennium Declaration was adopted during the Millennium Summit by the world leaders who attended, striving to "free all men, women, and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty." By the end of the Summit, the Millennium Declaration's eight chapters were drafted, from which the Millennium Development Goals, originally developed by the OECD, were particularly promoted in the years following the summit. The delegates at this summit agreed on the following eight chapters:
- Values and Principles
- Peace, Security and Disarmament
- Development and Poverty Eradication
- Protecting our Common Environment
- Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance
- Protecting the Vulnerable
- Meeting the Special Needs of Africa
- Strengthening the United Nations
Additional summits are to be held every five years after the Millennium Summit to assess the progress of the United Nations in reaching towards the Millennium Development Goals. The first follow-up to the Millennium Summit was held in the year of 2005 at the 2005 World Summit.
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