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Reclaim our UN

reclaim our un
Name:Reclaim our UN
International Organization:United Nations
From:     To:2004 - 2005
Promoters Assembly of the Peoples’ UN; Peace Roundtable (Italy);
upporters:International networks and non-governmental organizations and institutions
Aim:Democratization of United Nations
Focus:The Global civil society for the reform and the democratisation of the UN by Antonio Papisca and Marco Mascia, University of Padua - Italy




Padua seminar

Padua appeal

Padua supporters


Official web site



During the preparation of the World Social Forum 2005, the “Contents” and “Strategy” Commissions of the WSF International Council recognised the need to prepare next World Social Forum edition through thematic seminars.

A number of organisations of the WSF International Council have started an open, participatory process focusing on the theme of the future of the United Nations and other international institutions. This process has seen, through different stages - UBUNTU conference in Barcelona the 23-24 September 2004; “Reclaim Our UN” Seminar in Padua on 19-20 November 2004; the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2005 – the participation and contribution of hundreds of non-governmental organisations and international networks from all over the world.

During the World Social Forum 2005, these organisations - together with the Global Call to Action against Poverty coalition - has launched the September 10th Appeal for a Global Day of Mobilisation against poverty, war and unilateralism, for a new just, peaceful and democratic world.

The appeal

At the eve of the head of States meeting at the UN

                                   September 10th 2005
       Global day of mobilisation against poverty, war and unilateralism

                                                      We the people…
        for a new just, peaceful and democratic world order

We, representatives of global civil society meeting in Porto Alegre at the 5th World Social Forum, are launching an urgent appeal to democratize and strengthen the United Nations and build a new just, peaceful and democratic world order.

Poverty is growing. Wars and conflicts are constantly occurring. The gap between the rich and poor is increasing. Fundamental human rights and international laws are often ignored. Use of military power is again the basis of international relations. Militarist national security doctrines continue to dominate, despite universal support for human security that encompasses the economic, social and political needs of the people. People do not believe anymore in the capacity of the market to solve social problems, but it continues to be promoted by unaccountable institutions.

The UN that was established sixty years ago to ban war, eradicate poverty and social injustice is now under attack, weakened and marginalised diminishing its historical role for peace, development, social and international justice in world governance.

Strong unilateralism and uncontrolled neo-liberal globalisation are sidelining the only “common house” of humanity. The macro-economic functions of the UN have been taken away by the Bretton Woods institutions. A radical change of the IMF, World Bank, WTO and associated institutions, and their incorporation in the UN system is imperative.

The UN that we want is a UN of Peoples, not a UN of states. Only a comprehensive, radical and transparent reform of the UN will enable this system to fulfil its historical role for peace, development and international democratization.

The future of the UN should be everybody’s concern. In an increasingly interdependent world we cannot expect to find solutions for our problems that are not global solutions. There are no human rights without international institutions able to enforce them.

A sustained mobilisation including the enforcing of the accountability and transparency of our governments and member states of the UN, is absolutely crucial. This should be a constituent process involving all possible actors in civil society, local authorities and parliaments. Priority must be given to ensure due representation of region, race, class, gender and all social pluralities in this process.

2005 will be a crucial year for the future of international democracy and of the United Nations. On September 14-16 all heads of States of the world will be called to decide on the reform of the UN and to reaffirm and implement their commitments to eradicate poverty and to achieve, at least, the Mdg’s. This agenda is too important to leave it completely in the hands of governments, themselves mostly responsible for the current critical situation of humanity and for the terrible crisis of the UN.

As a first step, we invite all women and men, all movements, all civil society organisations, to mobilise to resolve this critical situation, and to organise on September 10th 2005 – at the eve of the head of States meeting at the UN – together with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, a major Global Day of Mobilisation For a New World Order Against Poverty, War and Unilateralism, For Economic and Social Justice, Peace and Democracy.

In order to build an open, just, peaceful and democratic world order we commit ourselves to raise public awareness, to address our governments and to continue networking and promoting an open debate towards the realization of specific common goals.

World Social Forum - Porto Alegre
January 28, 2005

This Appeal has been discussed and approved by 140 organisations that attended the “Reclaim Our UN” seminary on January 28 2005 in Porto Alegre during the V World Social Forum


Peace Roundtable (Italy), Assembly of the Peoples’ UN, UBUNTU –World Forum of Civil Society Network, Instituto Ethos (Brasil), IPS - InterPress Service, IBASE - Instituto Brasileiro de Analises Sociais e Economicas (Brasil), IDEAS - Iniciativas de Economía Alternativa y Solidaria (Spain), Euralat - Observatorio Eurolatinoamericano sobre el desarrollo democratico y social, Action for Economic Reforms (Philippines), Africa Peace Point (Kenya), AIDC - Alternative information and Development Center (South Africa), Alianza por un Mundo Responsable y Solidario (Peru), ANND - Arab NGO Network for Development, Articulacion Feminista MARCOSUR, Attac (Brasil), Attac (France), BGRF - Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (Bulgaria), CAFOR (Cameroon), Centro de Investigacion para la Paz (Spain), CETRI - Centre Tricontinental (Belgium), CND – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (England), Comunidad de Paz San Jose de Apartadò (Colombia), Conseu / CIEMEN - Centre Internacional Escarrè per a Minories ètniques i les Nacions, DAWN – Developing Alternatives for Women, DION - Development Indian Ocean Network, General Board of Global Ministries - United Methodist Church (United States), Djazairouna - des familles victimes du terrorisme (Algeria), FAL - Foro de Autoridades Locales de Porto Alegre, FAMSI - Fondo Andaluz de Municipios por la solidariedad internacional (Spain), Front SIWA LIMA RMS for Maluku (The Moluccas), Fundaciò per la Pau (Spain), IPB - International Peace Bureau, Japan Network on Dept & Poverty (Japan), Jubileo Perú (Peru), Le Mouvement de la Paix / French Peace Movement (France), Peace Boat, Red Estrategia ACAA - Andina-Centroamericana-Amazónica, REPEM - Red de Educacion Popular entre Mujeres de América latina y el Caribe, Rodhecic - Le Reseau d'organisations des droits de l'homme et d'education civique d'inspiration chrétienne (Democratic Republic of Congo), SID – Society for International Development, Social Watch, Solidar, TNI - Transnational Institute, Umoja As One (Kenya), Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo - Facultad de Ciencias Economicas y Sociales (Domenican Republic), WCL- World Confederation of Labour, WIDE - Women in Development Europe, WFM - World Federalist Movement, ActionAid International, WSF Argentinian Organising Committee (Argentina), AIPSO - All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation (India), Citizen for a UN People’s Assembly (United States), Cives - Associaçao Brasileira de Empresarios pela Cidadania (Brazil), Coalition for a World Parliament and Global Democracy (United States), CGIL (Italy), CIDSE, European Federalist Movement (Italy), FIM – CISL (Italy), FIOM – CGIL ( Italy), PDHRE - Peoples Movement for Human Rights Learning (United States), Tierra Vida (Perù), Viva la Ciudadania (Colombia), Bahrain Association for Human Rights (Bahrain), BSU - Bangladesh Students Union (Bangladesh), US Peace Council (United States), Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Claretian Missionaries, Development Alternatives (India), Ass. Amis Lointains du Togo (Togo), Forum Mulher (Mozambique), Oxford Research Group (United Kingdom), AIC - Alternative Information Center (Israel), InfoNature.org, African Forum on Alternatives (Senegal), Freedom from Debt Coalition (Philippines), Centre Ubuntu (Burundi), CADTM - Comité pour l'annullation de la Dette du Tiers Monde (Belgium), DAWN - Developing Alternatives for Women, Inima Pentru Inima (Romania), TAMWA - Tanzania Women's Association (Tanzania), ZIFF - The Zanzibar festival of the dhow (Tanzania), World Future Council Initiative (England), Studio Ijambo / Radio Isanganiro (Burundi), Groupe Médialternatif (Haiti), The Democracy and Workers'Rights Center in Palestine (Palestine), CIRPED (Senegal), CA/CIM - Critical Action / Centre in Movement (India), GSoA - Switzerland without an Army / Swiss Antiwar Movement Gruppe fur eine Schweiz ohne Armee (Switzerland), Cities for Peace (United States), VOW - Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (Canada), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (United States), FISENGE - Federaçao Interestadual dos Sindicatos dos Engenheiros (Brasil), Icae - International Council for Adult Education (Uruguay), Habi Center for Environmental Rights (Egypt), BAFLF - Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (Bangladesh), IBUKA c/o Department of Memory and Documentation (Rwanda), Berkley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists' Social Justice Committee (United States), Global Progressive Forum, One World Now (United States), Citizens for a UN People's Assembly (United States), ENDA Tiers Monde (Senegal), Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering RDFL (Lebanon), Coordination Nationale d'Action pour la Paix et la Democratie (Belgium), CAFEC - Centre Africain D'Echange Culturel (Congo), PDC - Plans de Desenvolupament Comunitari (Spain) ,Sustainable World Coalition (United States), Disabled Peoples' International – Europe, Bangsa Adat Alifuru (The Moluccas), ActionAid International, Global Policy Forum Europe (Germany), Earth Rights Institute (United States), Proclade Euskadi – Promociòn Claretiana de Desarollo Euskadi (Spain), CEAS – Comision Episcopal de Accion Social (Peru), Alternative Kanton Zug(Switzerland), SGA - Sozialistisch- Grune Alternative (Switzerland), ITeM – Istituto del Tercer Mundo (Uruguay),Capaj (Peru), Akshara (India), Mouvement Chrétien pour la Paix (Belgium), Solidarité Socialiste FCD (Belgium)



Seminar in Padua

The previous appeal has been prepared, thanks to the contribution of the co-ordinators of the working groups during the International Seminar “Reclaim our UN” that took place on November 19-20 2004 in Padua (Italy). The seminar saw the participation of over 600 people representing 25 International networks, 50 national organisations and 284 Italian associations. This is a working document and therefore it is useful for understanding the central elements of the discussion that took place in Padua. The  discussion has contined up to the World Social Forum, that took place in Porto Alegre from the 26th to the 30th January 2005.

Padua appeal

WSF 2005

"Tavola Della Pace" appeal

“Reclaim Our UN”

1. Unilateralism is bad for the world. Multilateralism is not an option, it is indispensable. The alternative is world chaos, wars, terrorism, growing poverty, greater insecurity, injustice, environmental devastation.

2. The UN remains the highest form of multilateralism available today. It is full of limitations, has been hijacked by powerful governments, but it is the only one we have.

3. Most of the huge challenges facing humankind are global and to address them we need a global solution. The UN, with representatives from 191 countries, is the only worldwide forum that can and has to be the instrument for the people to achieve a world of peace and social justice, the goals of its charter.

4. The weakening of the UN, the failure of governments to fulfill their commitments to the decisions taken at the UN is part of a broader attack on a world order based on international law. It extends to international institutions the strategy of neoliberal globalisation, based on economic power, deregulation and privatisation, against peoples’ rights and needs.

5. In the last ten years the emerging global civil society has become a new actor. Millions of people and thousands of organisations have become active against war, neoliberal globalisation and unilateralism, for a more democratic and just world order. They continue to challenge the actions and power of international institutions, developing alternatives from below on peace, security, human rights, combating impunity, economic and social justice, environmental sustainability.

6. As the UN system turns sixty, these mobilisations have filled the void left by the inaction of governments and showed the path for a radical reform that would make the UN system more democratic and effective.

7. Today these mobilisations have to be drawn together and developed on a broader scale with a more focused and effective strategy, built on the broadest participation, bringing together a diversity of perspectives and experiences, and creating a new consensus. The key players in this process have to be, first of all, the peoples who are excluded from global decision making, social and grassroots movements, civil society organisations and NGOs, national and international networks, trade unions, religious groups, migrants and refugees groups, local authorities.

8. Many long years of inconclusive studies, reports and debates of the inter-governmental system have gone without reaching any conclusion. In order to start a positive reform process, it is now clear that there is a need for a global mobilisation of all sectors of civil society, from women to environmentalists, from indigenous people to human rights activists.

9. The fundamental objectives of such a strategy of mobilisation can be summarised as follows:

- oppose the strategy of “preventive and infinite” war, and unilateralism;

- reclaim and revitalise the UN system on the base of international law and human rights, putting it at the centre of a multilateral order;

- democratise the UN system, opening its doors to local authorities, local governments, other decentralised governments, parliaments, civil society voices representing the plurality of social, ethnic, gender and other diversities;

- ensure that the UN has the resources for implementing its mandate: prevent war, eradicate the causes of war (economic, social and cultural), promoting human rights, the global rule of law and international justice, and recover control over economic, social and environmental issues, subordinating the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO to the principles and agreements under the UN and it’s agencies;

- promote general disarmament and the ban of all nuclear arms and of all weapons of mass destruction;

- prevent conflicts, protect civilians, and react to humanitarian catastrophes.

10. New strengths and opportunities are available for this strategy of mobilisation. The success of the global days of action such as February 15 2003 and March 20 2004 against the war in Iraq has shown the new strength and awareness of global civil society. The greater concern of many governments in defence of multilateralism offers opportunities for exerting pressure.

11. This strategy of mobilisation should be developed at a variety of levels. There is no opposition between actions at the local level, national struggles for policy change and initiatives on international institutions. All civil society work at local, national or regional level needs a change in the international system of governance. A more democratic functioning of international institutions would open up spaces for change at the national and local level. Implementing the principle of subsidiarity would restore decision making power for national and local democratic processes. Building new solidarities would strengthen the search for alternatives in countries of the South.

12. This strategy of mobilisation should develop from the bottom up with a process of education and communication within civil society and social movements. It should use the available means for changing national policies. It should use all available spaces within international institutions to demand and practice a more democratic and participatory functioning.

13. Civil society has to monitor closely the activities of the UN and international institutions. A global observatory on the international institutions could be studied and established with the object to evaluate periodically the commitment in practice of the UN activities to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

14. 2005 can be a turning point for such a mobilisation at the local and global level. We propose a global day of action for democracy, freedom and peace, against all fundamentalisms and wars, to be held on the eve of the Summit of Heads of State convened by the UN in New York in autumn 2005 for a review of the commitments undertaken at the Millennium Summit and the reform of UN.

15. Within the dynamics of the World Social Forum, the participants to the international Seminar “Reclaim our UN” in Padua commit themselves to work together to continue the dialogue on these issues and facilitate the emergence of common mobilisations. At the WSF to be held in Porto Alegre in January 2005, within the activities of terrain 11, we will hold a seminar on the objectives of such mobilisations; another seminar where we will discuss the action plan for 2005; an open meeting on the future of the UN system bringing together social movements active on a variety of issues; we will ask all other terrains to take up the question of a more democratic world order, as a transversal issue, identifying possible specific strategies.

(Second section of the working document. This part does not reflect the richness of the proposals that emerged in the Padua Seminar because there was not enough time for discussing them.)

16. This effort does not start today. Civil society has developed in the last decade a variety of proposals and activities for reforming and democratising the UN system. They were never considered by governments and international institutions. Today many campaigns are demanding specific changes in international institutions; these could be linked into a global strategy of mobilisation.

17. The UN system has to be transformed in order to make it more democratic, representative and accountable. Any process of reform must include the active participation of key actors such as civil society organisations, local governments and parliaments.

18. The fundamental aim of such a strategy is to make human security the core mission of the UN system that should be reformed and restructured in order to fulfill this mission.

19. The concept of human security includes the economic social and legal dimensions, and the UN system should be reformed in order to extend its activities in these fields, regaining control over the rules and institutions regulating international finance, trade, social conditions, labour, the environment.

20. The creation of a Human Security and Development Council , with a transformation of ECOSOC, could be studied as a tool of governance of globalisation and control over IMF, World Bank and WTO, and on the operation of multinational corporations.

21. As the representative body, the UN General Assembly should be brought back at the centre of the UN, strengthened and democratized.

22. The present structure of the UN Security Council is unacceptable. Its composition, activity and the unlimited veto power contradicts the very concepts of democracy and human security.

23. The reform of the UN should include a renewed financial architecture reducing the dependence on decisions by powerful states, and a move towards a decentralisation of its locations and functions.

24. For too long the UN has been the exclusive domain of unaccountable governments. It needs to open up to democratic processes involving new actors representing the peoples. The status of civil society should be improved and its voice and role should be strengthened. All institutions and bodies within the UN system should be opened up to the involvement and participation of civil society, maintaining a bottom up approach.

25. The role of Local Authorities, that are closer to the needs of people, should be recognised and empowered.

26. Possible tools for recovering a democratic control over the activities of the UN system are the development of a representative Parliamentarian presence in the governance of the UN system.

27. An important experience of involvement of civil society in the development of the UN system has been the creation of the International Criminal Court, the adoption of universal jurisdiction laws at the national level and other UN Human Right and Humanitarian organisations. Their power and mandate should be preserved and expanded.

Padua appeal supporters

Assembly of the Peoples’ UN; Peace Roundtable (Italy); Ibase (Brasil); Inter Press Service; Ubuntu; Euralat; Cives (Brasil); Attac (Brasil); Conseu/CIEMEN - Centre Internacional Escarrè per a Minories ètniques i les Nacions; CADTM - Comité pour l´annullation de la Dette du Tiers Monde; IDEAS; the Interdepartmental Centre for Research and Services on Peoples’ and Human rights; the UNESCO University Chair on “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace” in Padua; Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank; ACLI (Italy); Action for Economic Reforms (Philippines); Africa Peace Point (Kenya); Africa Trade Network; Agesci (Italy); AIC - Alternative Information Center (Israel/Palestine); Alianza por un Mundo Responsable y Solidario (Peru); Alliance pour un monde responsable, pluriel et solidaire / Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l´Homme (Brasil); ANND - Arab NGO Network for Development; ANONG - Cotidiano Mujer (Uruguay); ARCI (Italy); Articulacion Feminista MARCOSUR; Attac France; Bahrain Association for Human Rights (Bahrain); Beati i costruttori di pace (Italy); Bridge Initiative (France); BGRF - Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (Bulgaria); CAFOR (Cameroon); CCFD - Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Développement (France); Center Aziz Belal (Morocco); Centre Ubuntu (Burundi); Centro de Investigacion para la Paz (Spain); CGIL (Italy); Cipsi (Italy); CIDSE; CISL (Italy); Cities for Peace (United States); CNCA (Italy); Comunidad de autodeterminacion "Vida y Dignidad" of Cacarica-Chocò (Colombia); Comunidad de Paz San Jose de Apartadò (Colombia); CND – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (GB); CONGO - Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the United Nations; CUT (Brasil); Dawn - Dev. Alternatives for Women; DION - Development Indian Ocean Network; Disabled Peoples´ International – Europe; Djazairouna - des familles victimes du terrorisme (Algeria); Emmaus (Italy); FAL - Foro de Autoridades Locales de Porto Alegre; Fastenopfer (Switzerland); Focsiv (Italy); Focus on the Global South; Forum Mulher (Monzambique); Fride; General Board of Global Ministries - United Methodist Church (United States); Groupe Medialternatif (Haiti); Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy; Instituto de Estudios de CTA - Central de Trabalhadores Argentinos (Argentina); Instituto Ethos (Brasil); IPB – International Peace Bureau; Le Mouvement de la Paix/French Peace Movement (France); Legambiente (Italy); Libera (Italy); Mani Tese (Italy); National Bureau of the Moroccon Federation of Trade Unions (Morocco); NGLS Unctad; Oxford Research Group (England); Pax Christi (Italy); Peace Boat Europe; Rodheci (Democratic Republic of Congo); Romania in the world cultural association (Romania); SID – Society for International Development; Social Watch; South Centre (Switzerland); The Socialist International; Transnational Institute; UFPJ - United For Peace and Justice (United States); Umoja As One (Kenya); University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); UN Millennium Campaign; WCL - World Confederation of Labour; World Citizens Movement; World Federalist Movement.


- UN World Summits and Civil Society: the State of the Art
by Mario Pianta, University of Urbino 

- Towards the WSF 2005 "Reclaim Our UN"
Working Document of the International Seminar “Reclaim Our UN”
Padua, 19-20 November 2004

Official web site


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