UN2020 and Together First virtually convened the UN75 People’s Forum for the UN We Need. The multimedia gathering was held from 14-15 May 2020, and included over 600 attendees from 75 countries around the world.

According to the organizers, the event and declaration send a message to the UN and Member States that “a stronger multilateral system is needed as a matter of urgency.” They also underline that the UN’s high-level event to commemorate its 75th anniversary on 21 September should be “the catalyst for the transformative changes urgently needed to successfully address 21st century global challenges.”

The outcome document of the People’s Forum, titled ‘Humanity at a Crossroads: Global Solutions for Global Challenges,’ describes the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as akin to the UN rising from the ashes of World War II: it too has the potential to transform global governance to reflect a new reality.

The People’s Declaration calls for a process to craft a coherent strategy to fill global governance gaps. In a section on ‘Creating an Enabling Environment,’ the Declaration sets out ten preconditions to enable “the whole of society to contribute to sustainable development and build resilient communities.” The preconditions are: good governance; peaceful and inclusive societies; dignity and human rights; equal opportunity; trust; education; sustainability; prosperity; financing; and implementation of international agreements.

The outcome document also contains a plan for global action with three priority recommendations for the UN and Member States:

  • Establish a Member-State-mandated post-2020 follow-up mechanism to enhance global governance, ushering in a new compact for more equitable and effective global governance and rebuilding confidence in global institutions;
  • Reliably and increasingly fund the UN including by addressing the challenge of unfulfilled Member States’ annual dues and financial commitments, streamlining “archaic” UN budgetary processes, and considering global taxation on fossil fuel, carbon or other commodities; and
  • Enhance participation modalities for civil society and other stakeholders with: a dedicated civil society focal point in the UN Secretariat at the level of Under-Secretary-General; a system-wide review of stakeholder participation in UN processes and adoption of a few well-designed reform proposals; increased use of communications technology to mitigate the digital divide; and a global petition mechanism to surface issues of concern for a critical mass of individuals.

The document also contains an annex of additional proposals generated through the civil society consultations leading up to the People’s Forum.

The Declaration and Plan for Global Action were formally received by UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande during a handover ceremony on 14 May. The President has transmitted the outcome document to the co-facilitators for intergovernmental consultations on the declaration to be adopted at the UN’s high-level commemoration event in September 2020.

In related news, the co-facilitators for intergovernmental consultations on the UN75 declaration circulated a zero draft of the political declaration on 14 May. By the draft, world leaders would make 12 commitments and assert that multilateralism is “not an option but a necessity.” A virtual discussion to discuss the zero draft will convene on 22 May. It will include a briefing from the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on preparations for UN75. [Declaration landing page and opening for endorsement] [Video presentation on the Declaration] [Videos of full People’s Forum