UN75 and the future of Multilateralism

In 2020, the United Nations celebrated its 75th anniversary and launched its most ambitious effort to crowdsource priorities and solutions to global challenges – from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, geopolitical tensions, deepening inequalities, and major transformations in our societies, including the digital sphere. Over one million people from all countries and walks of life took part, sharing their hopes and fears for the future through surveys and dialogues. During this session, participants of the Paris Peace Forum learned about the UN75 campaign and the global survey results, which were presented at the 75th UN General Assembly in September 2020.

This session was hosted by Körber-Stiftung.

Date: 12 November 2020 at the third edition of the Paris Peace Forum

Watch the full debate

Speakers

  • Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary
  • Jeb Bell, Vice President Global Strategy at the Pew Research Center
  • Moderator: Nora Müller, Executive Director International Affairs, Körber-Stiftung

Key takeaways from the discussion

  • Promoting a global dialogue and seeking inspiration from the people: Within the framework of the UN75 program and the Pew Research Center‘s survey on international cooperation, Fabrizio Hochschild and Jeb Bell discussed public support for multilateralism and international organizations and explored possible approaches for a more inclusive world order. Both agreed that 2020 was an unprecedented and challenging year, which revealed the importance of cooperation and compromise to secure the welfare of our societies. “There is a surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions, which shows that the current multilateral system is not delivering adequately,” noted Fabrizio Hochschild.
  • Public support for international cooperation survived the Covid-19 pandemic: According to Jeb Bell, support remains strong and is evident in all 14 surveyed countries, as well as in the Global South. The lesson taken away by most people is that greater global cooperation could have reduced the human toll from Covid-19. Moreover, the majority of the respondents regards the performance of the WHO as positive.
  • Climate change stands out as a top international concern: One of the central findings of both the UN global consultation and the Pew survey: The importance of climate change did not diminish in the face of the global challenges linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions. Jeb Bell: “People understand the world’s complexity, and they’re not focused on just one thing. We create questions that isolate these issues, but they are not necessarily seen in isolation”.
  • Young people are more supportive of international cooperation: “Younger generations are different in their mindset and their openness to new ways of approaching the major issues of our time” stated Jeb Bell. Fabrizio Hochschild pointed out that concrete structural changes could allow for greater inclusivity. For instance, the creation of a Youth Advisory Council could feed the debates of the United Nations General Assembly in the future.
  • Can international institutions take into account the interests of every citizen? Connecting with citizens across the globe and reinforcing transparency and inclusivity is a tremendous challenge for the UN and other International Organizations. Acknowledging that the distrust towards international institutions is in great part due to a listening deficit, Fabrizio Hochschild argued that “listening and showing humility to the voices of others has a value in itself, even when you can’t deliver immediately on all their demands”.
  • A look into the future: How to turn these findings into concrete action? A report with the UN75 global conversation findings will be shared as widely as possible within the UN system and among key stakeholders. In addition, the member states adopted a UN75 Declaration on 21 September, calling upon the Secretary-General to make concrete proposals to address key issues and reaffirming their collective commitment to multilateralism. “There are many things that can be done, and the question is whether the governments will have the courage to take these steps” emphasized Fabrizio Hochschild.

Resources

Discover the article by Nora Müller on the Medium blog of the Paris Peace Forum.

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