Revitalizing multilateralism for a better world


Last year, the United Nations conducted a global consultation involving more than one million people from 193 countries. The comments highlighted some important facts. And this year’s United Nations General Assembly must respond by strengthening rules-based multilateralism.

For starters, the consultation found that the expectations and hopes of women, men, girls and boys around the world are surprisingly similar. People want better access to basic health care, sanitation and education. They also want to see more solidarity with those hardest hit by the pandemic and with those living in poverty.

The main concern of those interviewed in the longer term is the dual crisis of climate change and the acceleration of biodiversity loss. Almost 90% of participants agree that global cooperation is vital to tackling today’s challenges, and a majority believe that the pandemic has made international cooperation even more urgent. What is particularly encouraging is that young people around the world clearly want more international cooperation.

Last year’s consultation was a call to action. Today, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released Our Common Agenda, which follows the UN political declaration75 adopted by all UN Heads of State and Government there is one year old. The new agenda sets out a bold plan for how we can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The threat of rupture must be seen as an opportunity for a breakthrough. That is why we are committed to strengthening our countries’ support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to translate the ambitious UN agenda into action.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which we are still battling globally, has sent the message that we live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Additionally, in recent months we have seen a record number of people affected by heat waves, devastating floods and some of the biggest wildfires in recent history, once again confirming the unprecedented threat. posed by our climate change.

The United Nations is the heart of the international system. The fact that the world came together 76 years ago to create an organization to “achieve international cooperation in solving international problems” is in itself extraordinary. But what is even more striking is that this organization, despite its challenges and shortcomings, has endured. He showed that the path to a better, more peaceful and sustainable future is paved with cooperation, not zero-sum competition.

However, the world’s international organizations were created primarily to resolve interstate challenges, not issues that transcend borders, such as financial crises, pandemics, terrorism, criminal networks, threats to our oceans, or change. climate. We must therefore modernize our multilateral institutions, make them adapted to their objectives and better equipped to face the global and transgenerational challenges we face.

Having observed the marked differences between the world of the founding generation of the UN and the world of today, we decided last year to relaunch the debate on the reform of the UN Security Council and to continue the work of revitalizing the General Assembly and strengthening the Council. In line with the joint declaration that we signed on November 10, 2020 in Madrid, we see three areas of action that should be highlighted in order to advance our common goal of strengthening multilateralism.

First, we need a renewed commitment to international cooperation. Multilateral organizations must have the means and the mandate to make a difference on the ground. Cooperation between the United Nations, regional organizations and international financial institutions must improve both at the political and operational levels. The multilateral system must be more open and inclusive to give young people, civil society, the private sector, universities and others a place at the table.

We are already putting this into practice. On the sidelines of this year’s General Assembly, we hosted the virtual event “Achieving the Common United Nations Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion” in collaboration with the Pathfinders for Peaceful initiative, Just , and Inclusive Societies. We intend to ensure that all voices are heard.

Second, we must act on the Secretary-General’s agenda of taking bold steps to revive and strengthen our capacity to tackle poverty and inequality; ensure inclusion, equal participation and justice; face the climate crisis and the acceleration of biodiversity loss; and equip us for future pandemic threats.

We have learned from the COVID-19 crisis that we must strengthen our collective capacity to anticipate, prevent and manage complex risks such as epidemics, new wars, massive cyber attacks, environmental disasters or other unforeseen events. We therefore welcome the Secretary-General’s suggestions on how to strengthen global capacities for forecasting and risk management, including the proposal for a new global “emergency platform”.

Finally, we welcome the proposal for a Future Summit in 2023, and we must take this opportunity to step up our efforts to strengthen international cooperation. In today’s world, with so many issues reverberating across borders and across generations, we must seize this moment to create a more agile, efficient and accountable multilateral system that benefits all citizens and enables us to meet the global challenges we face.

We want to be at the forefront of this business. Together, we can and must reinvigorate rules-based multilateralism, with a stronger and more inclusive United Nations at its heart. This is the great political task of our time.

Carlos Alvarado Quesada is President of Costa Rica. Jacinda Ardern is Prime Minister of New Zealand. Stefan Lofven is Prime Minister of Sweden. Cyril Ramaphosa is President of South Africa. Macky Sall is President of Senegal. Pedro Sanchez is Prime Minister of Spain. © Project union, 2021

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