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The United Nations at 75: A Time for Renewal and Innovation

posted on: Jan 8, 2020

The United Nations at 75: A Time for Renewal and Innovation

By Elif Selin Calik/Arab America Contributing Writer

On June 26, 2020, the international community will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Charter.

Recently, at the Doha Forum 2019, the leader of the UN discussed the UN’s future at its 75th anniversary. “We have no room for either cynicism or apathy” President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Muhammed Bande highlighted during his speech at Doha Forum 2019. Mr. Muhammad-Bande also highlighted the value of pooling resources “to urgently address major global challenges confronting humanity”, underlining the importance of strengthening South-North and triangular cooperation to reinforce the UN’s work.

In the 21st century, we face enormous challenges it can not be solved by any country own its own. Firstly climate change is the defining challenge of our times. Secondly, migration and refugees; people are on the move everywhere. The third challenge is terrorism and international criminality and the last one is the irrepressible impacts of the new technologies.

On the other hand, countries also face many global economic threats and challenges—including weaknesses in cyberspace infrastructure, loss of tax revenues to illicit financial flows, illegal usage of natural resources, and other corrupt practices—that inhibit the growth of economies and the ability of governments to enhance economic resilience. Even more alarming, according to a report published by European Commission, if humankind cannot find its way to limit average global warming to less than 1.5°C (looming as soon as 2030), further severe climatic changes are anticipated, including intensified biodiversity loss, storm surges, drought, desertification, and sea-level rise of up to one meter by 2100.

There are numerous divisions and discrepancies within and across societies along racial, gender, socioeconomic, and other lines. The roots of current discontents with global governance lie in the actual and perceived lack of justice and human security for many individuals in a globalized world. According to prominent philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, the situation is further compounded by the fact that there are no countries left ready to accept and offer shelter and a chance of decent life and human dignity to the stateless refugees. And, these countries are afraid of refugees. He explains term of “Liquid fear,” that “it means fear flowing on our own court, not staying in one place but diffuse. And the trouble with liquid fear, unlike the concrete specific danger which you know and are familiar with, is that you don’t know where from it will strike.”

Therefore, global action by governments, international organizations, and global civil society— underpinned by a new global ethic—to reverse these dangerous trends have become the moral and practical imperative of the present era. Since the launch, in 2015, of the Report of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance, Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, a concerted effort has been made to promote urgently needed global governance innovations, looking toward and continuing through the United Nations’ seventy-fifth anniversary in 2020.

Multilateral Solutions

On the 18th of December, ‘New and dangerous’ global risks require multilateral solutions, Guterres told the Italian Senate pointing to the need for more coordinated international responses, focused on solutions. Meanwhile, Mr. Guterres stressed the need to preserve a global system with a universal economy that respects international law – “a multipolar world with solid multilateral institutions”.

As the UN enters its 75th year in 2020, multilateralism is, at the end of the day, inevitable scenario and a product of nations willing to work under common rules, norms and laws to resolve and address challenges without descending into open conflict. Its unique role and relevance deserve more attention and reflection.

The United Nations at 75: A Time for Renewal and Innovation
Photo: UN road map at 75 years by Stimson Center

According to the Stimson Center’s report named An Innovation Agenda for UN 75: The Albright-Gambari Commission Report and Road Map to 2020, the UN should create a strong UN peace-building council to replace the Peacebuilding Commission and give it a conflict-prevention mandate. The new council would supplant the long-dormant Trusteeship Council. The report says that by involving peace operations and avoiding potentially violent rivalries among great powers, such as the United States, China, and Russia, the new peace-building council would monitor and marshal collective action to avert the outbreak or recurrence of deadly conflict and closely track the UN’s systemwide efforts to sustain peace.

To set an effective agenda, UN may follow these three issues, as well; to continue to operationalize and prioritize conflict prevention, to continue to strengthen the role of women in peace processes, to establish standing and reserve capacities to meet rapidly deployable needs for civilian specialist skills at its 75 years.

Meanwhile, international evidence abounds that we can do great things if we are courageous, steadfast and show empathy. Today’s gathering can achieve a collective dream as “a remarkable feat” in itself. It is inevitable that tackling issues such as the climate crisis, inequality, new patterns of violence and the major changes will require cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations.




Elif Selin Calik is a London based journalist and independent researcher. She is a regular contributor to publications like TRT World, Daily Sabah, Rising Powers in Global Governance and Hurriyet Daily News. She was one of the founders of the In-Depth News Department of Anadolu News Agency and participated in United Nations COP23 in Bonn as an observer. She holds an MA in Cultural Studies from the International University of Sarajevo and a second MA in Global Diplomacy from SOAS, University of London. She holds her Ph.D. in energy politics.



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