[Mb-civic] Clinton Gathers World Leaders - Washington Post
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Sat Sep 17 06:47:53 PDT 2005
Clinton Gathers World Leaders
Nonpartisan Conference Focuses on Global Improvement
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2005; Page A02
NEW YORK, Sept. 15 -- The U.N. General Assembly may have failed this
week to come up with a stirring plan to combat the world's ills. But
there was former president Bill Clinton -- once said to have harbored an
ambition to become secretary general -- assembling his own mini-General
Assembly of presidents, prime ministers, kings and other pooh-bahs on
Thursday to devise specific plans for addressing poverty, global
warming, religious conflict and better governance.
The inaugural meeting of what he has dubbed the Clinton Global
Initiative will stretch over three days of seminars and speeches,
bringing together 800 movers and shakers who paid $15,000 each for a
seat. If the opening session is any guidepost, the meetings resemble the
gabfests at Davos, the annual global economic summit held in
Switzerland, or the Renaissance Weekends that Clinton attended as
president. But Clinton added a catch -- each of the attendees is
required to commit to doing something to improve the world.
"This is more than a photo op, more than business as usual," Clinton
said as he opened the session. "All of us come to meetings, we study
issues, we say what we think, and too often we complain when the
governments that we seek to influence ignore what we think is our sound
So every person attending is required to make a commitment in writing.
More than 50 commitments have been made, totaling more than $300
million. Clinton announced four specific commitments -- signed on the
spot for the cameras -- which included a $100 million Africa investment
fund and a plan to fight HIV-AIDS through micro-enterprise development.
One commitment was made by the Clinton initiative itself -- a pledge
that all of its activities would be "carbon neutral," promising to
mitigate the effects of plane travel and conference preparation by
financing renewable energy projects that replace fossil-fuel energy sources.
"What is happening here is the kind of intense dialogue between
different people and cultures which should take place at the U.N. but
can't anymore because of highly ritualistic structures, protocol and
conflict avoidance," said Richard C. Holbrooke, a former U.N. ambassador
under Clinton who made the HIV-AIDS commitment.
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