If you were to ask members of the public what they thought was the role of the United Nations they would probably reply: Peacekeeping as in Bosnia, or, that through its agency WHO (World Health Organisation) it is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters and for shaping the health research agenda. Fewer still might point out that in 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 21 (1) & (3) state that:
- Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
- The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
With little to choose between the election manifestos of the three main British Political Parties it is time to ask: Why not?
In this series of articles I will firstly, show readers how the Programmes of the United Nations and its’ agencies have, and continue to shape the policies of the Government and opposition parties of the United Kingdom: secondly, briefly look at a small number of Non Governmental Organisations who promote the work of the United Nations behind the scenes, and, finally look at some of the policies which have been disguised to appear as though they originate from either the Westminster or Scottish Parliaments.
The United Nations, Agenda 21 & the Millennium Development Goals
Our journey commences with a short examination of the UN document The United Nations, Agenda 21 & the Millennium Development Goals - Strengthening the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations: Partners for Sustainable Development”
In outline this United Nations document tells us how National Governments are required to create a legal environment in which non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) can operate effectively within our society. These non-governmental organisations provide the ground troops for the implementation and monitoring of the policies of the United Nations (Agenda 21). NGO’s become consulted and claim to represent public opinion during stakeholder consultations. What in effect happens is that the vote of individuals is stolen and participatory democracy is undermined. This is what the United Nations have to say :-
Basis for action
- Non-governmental organizations play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy…Formal and informal organizations, as well as grass-roots movements, should be recognized as partners in the implementation of Agenda 21.
- One of the major challenges facing the world community as it seeks to replace unsustainable development patterns with environmentally sound and sustainable development is the need to activate a sense of common purpose on behalf of all sectors of society.
- Non-governmental organizations, including those non-profit organizations representing groups addressed in the present section of Agenda 21, possess well-established and diverse experience……. The community of non-governmental organizations, therefore, offers a global network that should be tapped, enabled and strengthened in support of efforts to achieve these common goals.
- Society, Governments and international bodies should develop mechanisms to allow non-governmental organizations to play their partnership role responsibly and effectively.
- With a view to strengthening the role of non-governmental organizations as social partners, the United Nations system and Governments should initiate a process, in consultation with non-governmental organizations, to review formal procedures and mechanisms for the involvement of these organizations at all levels from policy-making and decision-making to implementation.
Governments should take measures to:
- Involve non-governmental organizations in national mechanisms or procedures established to carry out Agenda 21….. especially in the fields of education, poverty alleviation and environmental protection
- Take into account the findings of non-governmental monitoring and review mechanisms in the design and evaluation of policies concerning the implementation of Agenda 21 at all levels;
- Review government education systems to identify ways to include and expand the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the field of formal and informal education and of public awareness.
We are also told that:
Governments will need to promulgate or strengthen, subject to country specific conditions, any legislative measures necessary to enable the establishment by non-governmental organizations of consultative groups, and to ensure the right of non-governmental organizations to protect the public interest through legal action.
Is there evidence that this is happening in practice?
Yes there is. For example, the minutes of the Harrow Agenda 21 Environmental Forum, 21 January 2009 tell us that:
MO explained the background to the Earth Charter (attached). It was an international initiative operating within the United Nations. Like Agenda 21, it dated back to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit…….. It was a universal, common purpose document whose aims could be easily supported, even and especially by diverse populations such as Harrow’s. There was no reason why it could not be endorsed by Harrow Council or Harrow Agenda 21, or both.
Readers may wish to conduct their own research into the legal status of Harrow Agenda 21.
The reach of Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) throughout Europe
Examination of the document POLICY AND PRACTICE LASALA: Evaluating Local Agenda 21 in Europe, BOB EVANS & KATE THEOBALD, Sustainable Cities Research Institute, University of Northumbria, 6 North Street East, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK". provides interesting reading. This paper reports on the main findings of the recent Local Authorities’ Self-Assessment of Local Agenda 21 (LASALA) project, which conducted a Europe-wide research programme into the European LA 21 initiative. This reveals that:
Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) may be regarded as one of the most enduring and possibly most effective outcomes of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro ‘Earth Summit’. In Europe alone, approximately 4000 cities, municipalities at regional and local level, and regional authorities are now engaged in a LA 21 process of some kind.
The HARMonization of individual programming cycles
Within the Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations, on the work of the Organization, Fifty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 1 (A/54/1), 31 August 1999 informs readers that
In response to a call by the General Assembly for greater HARMonization and simplification of the policies and procedures used by United Nations bodies, 100 country teams have now planned to have their individual programming cycles begin at the same time, and all country programmes will have harmonized cycles by 2004.
What this means in layman's terms is that United Nations Policies are introduced in Members States simultaneously. One classic example being the worldwide smoking bans introduced following the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
More particularly, this document also tells us that
The housing of United Nations entities in common premises (United Nations Houses) will foster a greater sense of community and common purpose ...In a number of countries, we are promoting "virtual" United Nations Houses that will connect separate offices via an in-country intranet and thus improve the sharing of information, practices and expertise.
Keywords: Elections, Agenda 21, Millennium Development Goals, NGO's (Non-Governmental Organisations, Common Purpose, Global Network, Partnerships, Consultative Groups, grass-roots movements, programming cycles, HARMonization.
In later articles we will examine the possibility that the networked, semi-secret, International Leadership Organisation Common Purpose plays an essential part in the United Nations Agenda 21 change program.
In Part 2, researcher and author, Nikki Rapana discusses how and why national governments began modifying national laws to adapt to the global communitarian system of world governance.