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Subject: UN Millennium Summit - Day 2
Date: Thursday, 7 September 2000 18:00:00 EDT

From: Peter Meisen, GENI President

Don't talk about digital divide when most of our population doesn't even have electricity

This quote most clearly defined the distinction between the developed and developing nations. I only wish I could tell you the author, but there are some events that exclude the press, so the Presidents can speak openly. Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong hosted the first of four Roundtables where leaders met for three hours to have open dialogue among themselves. PM Goh offered this quote to one member of his Roundtable.

Polish President Aleksander Kwsaniewski hosted the second session, and offered additional insight into the minds of these leaders. He stated these three points in summary:

  1. The Presidents are very close in defining the problems facing humanity: poverty, human rights, diseases, climate change, and so forth.

  2. There are many differences on the solutions to these issues -- especially since each leader brings vastly different circumstances of wealth/poverty, industrialization and infrastructure.

  3. The leaders are very optimistic -- rebuilding their confidence in the United Nations to meet, discuss and find solutions. They see the need to work together in a world that is more interdependent each day.

President Kwsaniewski is particularly optimistic because he has seen and helped foster a major transition in his country over the past ten years. He felt that "anything is possible."

This reporter has attended many press conferences in the past two days: featuring Q & A sessions with Ehud Barak of Israel, General Perves Mushrraf of Pakistan, President Tarja Halonen of Finland and H.E. Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani of Afghanistan -- just to mention a few. It's an honor to just be in the room -- but a challenge to get in a question when there are 50 other hands in the air. As is with all media, it seems the urgent becomes the important -- so P.M. Barak only spoke about the Palestinian issue, Gen. Musharraf about Kashmir and nuclear weapons, and Prof. Rabbani about the Talaban and the rights of women. Yes these are all critical, yet the longer-term development strategies get lost in today's immediate battles.

Outside the UN Building, amidst the traffic and demonstrations, there is one most positive expression on the streets of New York. The PR firm, Young and Rubicam, has created a series of large posters for buses, telephone booths and newspaper kiosks that highlight the goals set forth by Secretary General Kofi Annan in the declaration, "We, the Peoples, the role of the UN in the 21st Century":

SLUMS: Reduced by January 1, 2005

POVERTY: Halved by January 1, 2015

ILLITERACY: Education for all children by January 1, 2005

GLOBAL WARMING: Greenhouse gases cut by January 1, 2010

HIV: Reduced by January 1, 2010
Each poster has the tag line: "The UN - History will be made here."

Kofi Annan stated, "I would expect the leaders to agree on specific targets and identify issues on which we can bring our collective influence to bear and try to resolve in the next 15 - 20 years. So it is a message of 'Yes, we can do something about it' and a message of 'Let's work together and do it.' "

Submitted by Peter Meisen, Sept. 7, 2000 6:00pm EST

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Updated 09/06/1999

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