UN Sets Plans for 75th Anniversary, Common Theme for All UN Events in 2020
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UN Member States reached agreement on the date and modalities for commemorating the UN's 75th anniversary, following a silence procedure that concluded on 6 June 2019.

The UNGA adopted the text in a plenary meeting on 14 June.

The high-level commemoration meeting on 21 September 2020 will have as its theme, ‘The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism’.

14 June 2019: The UN General Assembly has approved arrangements for a high-level commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary in September 2020. The UN will also mark the signing of the UN Charter in June 2020. In the course of consultations on the commemoration plans, 169 civil society organizations sent a letter to the co-facilitators underscoring the need to incorporate the diversity of voices represented by civil society.

The Permanent Representative of Singapore, Burhan Gafoor, and the Permanent Representative of Iceland, Bergdis Ellertsdottir, led consultations in April and May 2019 to decide on the date and modalities of the commemoration. UN Member States reached agreement on the draft resolution through a silence procedure that concluded on 6 June 2019. The UNGA then adopted the text in a plenary meeting on 14 June.

By the modalities resolution (A/RES/73/299), the commemoration will take the form of a high-level meeting of the UNGA. It will have as its theme, ‘The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.’ This theme also will “guide all activities, meetings and conferences organized by the United Nations in 2020,” including the general debate of the UNGA’s 75th session.

The high-level meeting is to convene on Monday, 21 September 2020, with no other intergovernmental meetings or side events taking place in parallel at UN Headquarters. The outcome document will be a declaration that is concise, substantive, forward-looking and “unifying,” and captures Member States’ commitment to multilateralism and to the UN, and their shared vision for a common future.

In addition to the high-level meeting on 21 September 2020, Member States also will commemorate the signing of the UN Charter on 26 June 2020 and UN Day on 24 October 2020 through observance ceremonies in New York.

The resolution emphasizes the need to engage civil society and youth in all activities to commemorate the anniversary. A Youth Plenary will take place in conjunction with the 2020 ECOSOC Youth Forum, will include a “youth-driven, global” dialogue on the theme of the commemoration event, and will send representatives to address the high-level meeting.

As next steps, the UNGA resolution mandates governments to:

  • Request the President of the 74th UNGA to appoint two co-facilitators for intergovernmental negotiations on the declaration, which should be concluded by June 2020;
  • Request the President of the 74th UNGA to determine the modalities of the ceremonies in June and October;
  • Encourage national and regional initiatives to support the commemoration of the 75th anniversary; and
  • Request the Secretary-General to receive voluntary contributions to support the commemoration event.

During the consultations on the resolution, a group of 169 civil society organizations sent a letter to the co-facilitators expressing concern that plans for the commemoration had not been “suitably inclusive of civil society.” The signatories said they were alarmed when the 29 April zero draft resolution for the commemoration did not “envision a meaningful role for civil society,” and seemed to “exclude civil society from the intergovernmental preparatory work, from consultations on any outcomes that may be adopted – and even from the commemorative event itself.”

The letter emphasized that the UN’s historical partnership with global civil society is particularly important today, as “civil society supports delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, and plays a key role in policy formulation, innovation and communication of progress to the broader public.” Excluding civil society from the 75th anniversary commemoration and preparations would mean losing an opportunity to include a diversity of voices, especially those of the most marginalized, the CSOs said. They called on the co-facilitators to “ensure that meaningful participation from civil society is included at every step of the way towards the 75th anniversary of the UN.”

In the final version of the resolution, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC are invited to register to attend the commemoration event. The final text also includes the reference to the need to engage civil society – not only youth – in commemoration activities.


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