The United Nations’ 75th anniversary in 2020 is expected to feature a world summit in New York, complete with world leaders’ declarations of commitment to continuing to work together for the common good. Such anniversaries in the past, including the Millennium Summit in 2000, the 2005 World Summit and the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 reasserted the validity of the post-World War II global governance architecture with the United Nations at its centre, and claimed to reform and revitalise the world body for subsequent decades. Among the new elements thus introduced to global governance and the United Nations (UN) system were the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and later the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Peacebuilding Commission. Separate specialised conferences made advancements on issues such as climate change, through the agreement reached in Paris in 2015.
Nonetheless, a significant discrepancy between pronouncements and actions, or intentions and achievements, can be attested on a daily basis, in the way that the UN and the global governance system work. Despite pulling millions out of poverty, fighting disease, promoting human dignity and maintaining relative peace in large parts of the world for decades, the post-World War II multilateral cooperation framework is currently experiencing a significant pushback. The way that globalisation is pursued by key governments and big financial and commercial interests, especially after the end of the Cold War, has increased inequalities, heightened insecurities and alienated large population segments. The great challenges of poverty and inequality, human rights and migration, climate change and resource depletion, regional conflict and weapons proliferation remain menacing. In the hands and mouths of opportunistic and amoral leaders all this becomes a call for returning to some kind of idealised national societies of plenty, insulated from the problems of the others. The net result is unhinged populism, increased intolerance and isolationism in many parts of the world, challenging the foundations of the multilateral system.
In this context, the UN’s 75th anniversary more than an occasion for celebration is an opportunity to rethink what has gone right and what has gone wrong in global governance, reassert the principles of multilateral cooperation and (re)build a fit-for-purpose global organisation for the next quarter century. This is a task that is not reserved exclusively or even primarily to the country leaders and delegates meeting at UN Headquarters in New York. There is dire need for active engagement, contribution of creative energy and ideas, and commitment to act by think tanks and advocacy groups, private enterprises and individuals the world over.
We believe that it is high time to revisit the conceptual and moral foundations of the post-World War II multilateral system and ensure its capacity to address the global governance and sustainability challenges of the 21st century. The outcome of the UN’s 2020 summit needs to mark a clear new course based on the shared values and interests of humanity.
Through the UN2100 initiative FOGGS builds on the expertise of its Advisory Board members, Executive Board, Secretariat staff and associated institutions and experts with the overall goal to contribute to a much-needed rethinking of the global governance system, with a view to increasing the latter’s legitimacy and its capacity to meet the challenges facing humanity and our planetary home in the coming quarter century.
The specific objective to be pursued in the framework of the initiative is to put forward innovative and practical ideas towards a modern, more effective, ethical and people-centred United Nations, as the central node of global governance arrangements and indispensable tool for tackling shared challenges.
The UN2100 Initiative consists in putting together a set of ideas for global governance and UN reform in response to key global challenges of our times. The findings will be combined and broader conclusions will be drawn following consultations with partner institutions and experts, as well as the broader public, for eventual incorporation into a “Call to Renew the UN” that will be submitted to opinion- and decision-makers at various levels.
October 2018 – September 2020
First product of the initiative
Discussion paper with “Proposals for a modern, effective, ethical and people-centred United Nations” – click on the cover below to read full paper.