World Congress of NGOs (WANGO)

Venue: Dead Sea

Location: Dead Sea, Jordan

Event Date/Time: Jul 17, 2006
Abstract Submission Date: Oct 06, 2006
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Representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from throughout the world will gather in the Dead Sea area of Jordan from November 30 to December 3, 2006 for the World Congress of NGOs. Also participating will be prominent international and national leaders from the intergovernmental, governmental, and for-profit sectors who share an interest in helping NGOs accomplish their vital tasks.

NGOs, Charities, Nonprofits: In Service to Humanity
Also known as charities, nonprofits, and civil society organizations, in recent years NGOs have surfaced as major players worldwide in addressing the serious challenges confronting humanity. NGOs are now impacting policies and guiding agendas that once were nearly exclusively the arena of governments and corporations, bringing unprecedented vitality and abilities to critical areas related to service and world peace.
There are many reasons that NGOs are so effective. Their flexibility and grassroots connections aid them in quickly mobilizing resources to affected locales, and their often single-minded commitment and strong motivation gives them a civic power that other institutions may lack. They are often cost-effective, mounting projects without large offices, staff, or funding—making do with what little they have for the sake of their mission. Often NGOs are willing to address threats that other groups may overlook, and have an ability and willingness to work beyond borders and build partnerships.
NGOs have used these advantages to forge an effective middle ground between the state and the corporate world. In many cases, they have proven to be more adept than government and business to respond to various needs.
NGOs also face numerous obstacles. A key, oft-cited weakness of the sector is lack of inter-NGO communication and coordination. Other challenges include limited institutional capacity and management expertise, frequent poor government-NGO cooperation, lack of understanding of the broader social and economic context, and funding difficulties. And this is not to forget the complication of having some NGOs that act unethically, thus weakening trust in the NGO sector. As institutions that do not place profit as their number one goal, NGOs tend to be among the most trusted institutions in society, and most do strive ethically and responsibly to promote the public good. But there are also actors in the NGO community that do not follow acceptable standards of conduct.
The World Congress of NGOs is designed to bring leaders of NGOs together to address common concerns, tackle challenges of the sector, network together, and help NGOs to be more effective in their missions.

The World Congress of NGOs will be convened by the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), one of the world’s preeminent membership organizations for NGOs, with members in over 140 countries. The co-conveners of the conference are the General Union for Voluntary Societies (GUVS) and the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). GUVS, whose President is Dr. Abdullah El-Khatib, sometimes called the "Godfather of the voluntary sector in Jordan," is the umbrella organization of the social development sector in Jordan. UPF is a global alliance of religious, academic, political, and civic leaders, and organizations joined together to promote peace, that is, a unified world in which all people live together in harmony, cooperation, and co-prosperity.
This conference also serves as the Annual Conference for WANGO. Since 2001, the WANGO Annual Conference has been the world's leading meeting for NGOs dedicated to the ideals of service, world peace, strong families, and global well-being. The Annual Conference provides a unique opportunity for WANGO to offer NGOs the mechanism and support needed to connect, partner, and multiply their contributions to solve humanity’s basic problems. The Annual Conference is also the setting for the business meeting of the Association.

Theme and Benefits
Convened on the theme NGOs: Forces for Peace, the World Congress of NGOs will address the issue of peace at all levels: individual, family, society, nation, and world.
In a recent 20-nation survey conducted by the World Association of Early Childhood Educators, a WANGO member, respondents identified the following as their concepts of peace:
38% - harmony and inner well being 8% - understanding towards others
36% - respect for one’s neighbor 8% - settlement of a just society
16% - harmonious coexistence 5% - dialogue between people
11% - love for the rest of the people 5% - solidarity between countries and people
9% - absence of military conflict

Clearly, NGOs, as forces for peace, touch all aspects of people’s lives everywhere.
The World Congress of NGOs, in addition to offering a visionary approach to issues related to peace, also will provide numerous practical tools to aid NGO leaders.
The World Congress of NGOs will be an exceptional occasion for networking, with NGO leaders invited from over 100 nations. A variety of session formats will be used for presenting ideas, issues, and practical resources. These include plenary sessions in which leading authorities deliver thoughtful presentations on broad vision issues, panel sessions where NGO representatives introduce their organizations or discuss their activities or interests, workshops with experts facilitating training on practical topics of importance to NGOs, symposia where issues of special interest are addressed, and regional breakout sessions and mixers for NGOs to network and explore regional concerns.
The World Congress of NGOs will be a unique crossroads for representatives of NGOs, colleges and universities, governmental and intergovernmental agencies, funding bodies, and corporations to meet, share innovative ideas and practices, and build strategic partnerships that can help NGOs better fulfill their missions.

Location of World Congress
The conference will be held at the Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea, a five-star property on the northeastern shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan. The Dead Sea area, and the Movenpick hotel, was the site for recent World Economic Forums held in the Middle East in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The Movenpick includes one of the largest and most advanced Spa operations in the Middle East, and the only one of its kind in Jordan. The hotel is 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Amman and 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Queen Alia International Airport.

Awards Banquet
One of the highlights of the World Congress of NGOs will be the Awards Banquet. At this event, NGOs that have shown remarkable leadership and service in their field of endeavor are honored. Recognizing the spirit of volunteerism among NGOs and acknowledging particularly effective NGOs, both large and small, has been a hallmark focus of WANGO. At the World Congress of NGOs, the other conveners are also invited to present an award to leading NGOs.
Awards will be presented in diverse categories, including Peace & Security, Education, Human Rights, Environment, Inter-religious Cooperation, and Family & Peace. Among past WANGO awardees are such NGOs as Rotary International, the Arias Foundation, the Bahrain Women’s Society, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (Canada), the United Religions Institute, and the African American Islamic Institute. In the 2003 conference in Bangkok, Dr. Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement was recognized with the Environment Award, just one year before she became recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Universal Peace Award has been WANGO’s highest award for individuals. Previous award recipients include Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former Director General of UNESCO; H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand; and H.E. Kenneth Kaunda, founding President of Zambia.
The 2006 awardees will be announced at the Awards Banquet on December 2 at the Dead Sea location.

About the Conveners

World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO)

The World Congress of NGOs comes on the foundation of WANGO’s successful annual conferences, which have been held in Washington, D.C. (2002), Bangkok, Thailand (2003), Budapest, Hungary (2004), and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2005). WANGO is the world’s largest, general purpose, international membership organization for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Association’s membership encompasses the vast spectrum of the NGO world, ranging from small non-profits focused on their local communities to major, international organizations with global agendas, from the least developed nations to the richest countries.
WANGO’s mission is to serve its member organizations, strengthen and encourage the non-governmental sector as a whole, increase public understanding of the non-governmental community, and provide the mechanism and support needed for NGOs to connect, partner, and multiply their contributions to solve humanity’s basic problems.
The Association provides an infrastructure for good NGOs to network worldwide, and assists NGOs in accomplishing their tasks relative to creating a better world. WANGO also strives to promote better NGO-government relations, where such cooperation is appropriate and beneficial. In reflecting this role, in recent years, the opening plenary sessions for WANGO’s annual conferences have taken place in the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, in the Session Hall of the former Upper House of Hungary’s Parliament Building, and in the Joint Session Hall in the Congress of the Dominican Republic.
WANGO maintains an active program of activities and services for NGOs. In addition to the annual conferences, recent international conferences and symposia have taken place in South Africa, Uruguay, Ghana, and Tanzania, and its Play Soccer Make Peace! tournaments have been held in over 40 nations. WANGO spearheaded the development of the Code of Ethics and Conduct for NGOs, a list of fundamental principles and over 100 specific standards that NGOs worldwide are using to guide their actions and management.
WANGO provides many practical tools for NGOs, including training workshops with international experts, and disseminating information on such topics as fundraising and getting grants, new technologies for NGOs, strategic planning, board development, and other critical issues. WANGO’s regular publications (Beyond Boundaries newsletter, conference proceedings, E-News) provide insightful information on the NGO community worldwide and bring greater exposure to the work of its members. WANGO’s neural facilitates networking, and intra-state networking is facilitated through national chapter activities. WANGO’s Global NGO directory and Membership Lists are a particular valuable resource for networking and partnering among NGOs.
While NGOs constitute the main membership and focus of WANGO, non-voting memberships are also available for government bodies, commercial entities, and interested individuals.

General Union of Voluntary Societies (GUVS)
GUVS is the umbrella organization for all of the voluntary work in Jordan. Non-governmental, voluntary organizations first received a legal basis in Jordan with the enactment of a 1936 law, and since then there has been a continuous establishment of such voluntary societies. The enactment of a new law, in 1956, led to the establishment of unions of voluntary societies (“governorate unions?E to coordinate the work of these societies within each administrative division in Jordan (governorate). The General Union of Voluntary Societies was established in 1959 to encompass all the governorate unions existing in Jordan at the time. As new governanate unions were formed, they likewise became a part of GUVS. Thus, according to Jordanian law, GUVS represents nationally the voluntary sector in Jordan. Today, GUVS encompasses twelve governorate unions and approximately 1,000 charities.
Originally, the role of GUVS was primarily centered on funding of charitable societies to carry out their work, as well as establishing policies for the work of voluntary societies, creating a social-economic development plan for the nation, and executing development projects jointly with the governorate unions and societies. Starting in 1983, GUVS began to lead the way in social work by initiating many projects and programs aimed at social development. GUVS also is the entity responsible for operating the national lottery (Jordanian Charitable Lottery), which is a source of income to help fund the various projects and activities of social work in Jordan.
GUVS focuses on such areas as childcare, poverty alleviation, care for the disabled, health care, student aid, and general community services. One internationally renowned project is the Al-Amal Cancer Center, which GUVS undertook the responsibility of establishing. The Al-Amal Cancer Center (“Amal?Eis the Arabic word for hope) is the only specialized center in Jordan that provides comprehensive treatment for cancer, using the most advanced medical equipment in the world.
Each year, GUVS evaluates the performance of the voluntary societies affiliated with it according to a set of standards, in view of the extent and quality of the services each of them renders. The amount of aid each society receives depends on this evaluation.
GUVS governing body, the 18-member Executive Council, is elected from and by the 61 member General Assembly, which consists of representatives of the 12 governorates. The President of GUVS is Dr. Abdullah el-Khatib, who has been referred to as the Godfather of the voluntary work in Jordan. It also was Dr. El-Khatib who was instrumental in the establishment of the Al-Amal Cancer Center, turning a personal tragedy into an extraordinary benefit for society. Thirteen years in creation, the center received its first patient on January 11, 1997, exactly thirteen years to the day that his 13-year-old daughter, Diala, died from cancer. Dr. Khatib also serves and has served in numerous other key leadership capacities relative to the non-governmental sector.

Universal Peace Federation

The Universal Peace Federation is a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation, and co-prosperity for all. The core objectives of the Peace Federation include the promotion of reform and strengthening of the United Nations and its Economic and Social Council; partnerships among governments, religions and civil society; a culture of peace through education, sports, arts, media and service; inter-religious cooperation; conflict prevention and resolution; and strong, loving family life.
UPF's network is in most nations of the world. It carries out peace initiatives in areas such as the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia, applying its methodology of reconciliation and service. In 2005, UPF coordinated conferences, symposium, seminars and other initiatives in over 70 nations.
With a comprehensive vision of human development that includes the individual, the family the community, the nation and the world, UPF promotes development with a focus on education, literacy, marriage and family, service programs, character education, and economic and business development. UPF also carries out a wide range of programs to promote effective, principled leadership and governance within businesses, governments, religions, educational institutions and NGOs. Since 1999 an effort has been made to develop an inter-religious council as an organ within the United Nations system, as a way to strengthen the United Nations and make it more effective in carrying out its mission.
UPF also promotes and sponsors cultural programs and the arts as instruments of peace, for example, through the Artists Association International, as well as sports programs, such as the Interreligious Peace Sports Festival.
UPF promotes a wide range of "peace media" initiatives such as Voices of Peace TV and World & I: Innovative Approaches to Peace. Voices of Peace TV (VPTV) is an educational media network that produces and distributes programming through various television media, locally, nationally, and globally, to insure the widest possible circulation. World & I: Innovative Approaches to Peace is a magazine published as a forum to foster human development, good governance, public service, and collaborative peace efforts involving religions, nations, and nongovernmental organizations. Envisioning peace as a state of harmonious interdependence among individuals, families, nations, and peoples, the World & I advocates constructive and original practices that contribute to achieving a unified world of peace, the hope of all ages.