Burning the Bridge to the 21st Century: The End of the Era of Integrated Conferences

By
Frederick Meyerson

In June 2003, the United Nations General Assembly voted to end the automatic five-year review of UN conferences, moving instead to a system in which both the format and timing of these conferences will be decided on a case-by-case basis. The rationale is that these large events should be more strategic and less routine. It remains to be seen whether this significant change will increase the conferences’ efficiency and effectiveness, or instead make them more likely to be held hostage to the prevailing political winds. While global environmental and population challenges are clearer and more pressing than ever, the international community seems less capable of constructive agreement. There has been a lot more talk than action.

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