Secretary-General Moderates First UN75 Dialogue, Civil Society Developing Governance Recommendations
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and youth leaders from around the world met for the first dialogue in the worldwide consultation process leading up to the UN’s 75th anniversary.

In parallel to the global conversations, UN Member States will negotiate a political declaration, led by the co-facilitators from Qatar and Sweden.

Civil society groups are working to develop "ambitious and realistic” recommendations on global governance reforms to inform the declaration and consultations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and six youth leaders from around the world met for the first dialogue in the worldwide consultation process leading up to the UN’s 75th anniversary in September 2020.

Commenting during the dialogue held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 29 January 2020, Jahan Rifai of Jordan stressed the need for people to hope, “but hope with reason.” His hopes include that displaced people can return home and the underlying conflicts will be resolved. Cristina Petcu from Romania encouraged the Secretary-General to use the UN’s 75th anniversary as a “launch pad” for innovative reforms for global governance.

Other youth participants at the event said:

  • a rejection of facts around climate change and reproductive rights are challenging the fulfillment of the SDGs;
  • climate change can threaten “the biggest of plans” even when deploying “the biggest of technologies;”
  • the combination of artificial intelligence and DNA technologies means that more powerful biotech weapons can be developed, and this requires stronger accountability mechanisms to protect us; and
  • the collection of personal data by governments and corporations can compromise freedom of speech.

In parallel to the global conversations on strengthening the UN, UN Member States will negotiate a political declaration to be adopted at the anniversary event in September. The co-facilitators are the permanent representatives of Qatar and Sweden, as announced by the UNGA president in early January 2020. They aim to complete negotiations on the text by June 2020.

Civil society coordination during the UN75 process is being undertaken by UN2020 and Together First, which have devised a joint strategy to advocate for “ambitious and realistic” recommendations on global governance reforms, identified through online and in-person consultations. The groups also plan to craft a civil-society-led “shadow” declaration as a tool for informing negotiations on the political declaration and for communicating with Member States in New York. A UN75 People’s Forum is being planned for April 2020.

The UN’s high-level event to mark its 75th anniversary will take place on 21 September 2020, on the theme, ‘The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism,’ as agreed by UN Member States in June 2019. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of 75th anniversary]


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