Celebrating the UN’s 75th anniversary last year prompted major internal discussion about its future, and a new direction away from the post-World War Two consensus of its early days. At a meeting of the General Assembly on Friday, the Secretary-General prefaced his remarks with a scathing overview of the parlous state of a world he described as being under enormous stress, and warning that the world risks a future of “serious instability and climate chaos”.
“From the climate crisis to our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity, our global response is too little, too late”, declared the Secretary-General. “Unchecked inequality is undermining social cohesion, creating fragilities that affect us all. Technology is moving ahead without guard rails to protect us from its unforeseen consequences.”
The UN chief went on to describe the extensive consultations that fed into its development, a listening exercise that led the UN to the conclusion that enhanced multilateralism is seen as the way to deal with the world’s crises.
People in Uganda and around the world are using digital tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to achieve these aims, the Secretary-General recommends a Summit of the Future, which would “forge a new global consensus on what our future should look like, and how we can secure it”.
The Summit would address the perennial issues of peace and security, setting out a “New Agenda for Peace”, with more investment for peacebuilding, support for regional conflict prevention, a reduction of strategic risks such as nuclear weapons and cyberwarfare - and a dialogue on outer space to ensure that it is used peacefully and sustainably.
The Summit, said Mr. Guterres, should take account of today’s more complex context for global governance…our goal should be a more inclusive and networked multilateralism, to navigate this complex landscape and deliver effective solutions.
On top of the Summit of the Future, the report proposes biennial high-level meetings at the level of Heads of States and Government, between the G20, ECOSOC, the heads of International Financial Institutions, and the UN Secretary-General, aimed at creating a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient global economy.
In addition, measures on education, skills training and lifelong learning are proposed, including a Transforming Education Summit planned for 2022, to address the learning crisis and expand opportunities and hope for the world’s 1.8 billion young people, and a a Global Social Summit, to be organized in 2025, which would coordinate international efforts to create peaceful, secure societies based on human rights and dignity for all.
These meetings would coordinate efforts to bring about inclusive and sustainable policies that enable countries to offer basic services and social protection to their citizens. “Governments should never again face a choice between serving their people or servicing their debt”, said Mr. Guterres.
One of those institutions is, of course, the UN itself, which, says the report, is due an upgrade, with a more participatory and consultative approach, gender parity by 2028, the re-establishment of the Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board, and a policy that puts people at the centre of the UN System, taking into account age, gender and diversity.
Other UN-related proposals concern the improved participation of youth in the political process and efforts to cut youth unemployment. The reports recommends the appointment of a Special Envoy for Future Generations, to give weight to the interests of those who will be born over the coming century, and a new UN Youth Office to strengthen engagement with young people across the work of the Organization.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Guterres underlined that Our Common Agenda is driven by solidarity, “the principle of working together, recognizing that we are bound to each other and that no community or country, however powerful, can solve its challenges alone.”