This is the question that has been posed to 80,000 people so far, from 191 countries, by a committee of the United Nations in preparation for celebrating its 75th anniversary in September 2020.
In this watershed moment, as Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor at the UN Fabrizio Hoshschield-Drummond described it, when the Covid 19 pandemic revealed the world’s unpreparedness to meet in an effectively coordinated way the kind of planetary crises that scientists have been warning us for a decade now lie ahead, it brought to the fore the need for well-coordinated international cooperation. In response, on April 24th, International Diplomacy Day, the Swedish Global Challenges Foundation organized a high-level forum on the topic of The Future We Want – The UN We Need. Participants in the forum were the Permanent Representatives of Sweden and Qatar to the UN, who are leading the international consultations toward preparing a Global Declaration to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations. Participants were also the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Luxemburg, the Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor at the UN, and the Executive Director of the Global Governance Forum Augusto Lopez-Claroz.
All the participants noted, that the world now finds itself at a dangerous crossroads, similar to the one that led to the creation of the UN. Just as 75 years ago, the irrational behavior of politicians and leaders led to two World Wars and massive devastation and suffering, similarly threatening are some current political tendencies to view internationalism as an ideology, rather than as the intelligent methodology to solve the world’s problems. Forum participants described “the toxic blend of protectionism, authoritarianism, nationalism, disinformation, and even sexism and racism” as a rising wave of ignorance, that puts on hold critical thinking and disregards our interdependence. But Covid 19 has shown clearly that solidarity and cooperation are a matter of enlightened self-interest for all. The pandemic is not just a public health crisis, as the Foreign Minister of Luxemburg observed, but a “fundamental systems crisis as it interacts and interlinks with climate crisis, global hunger, poverty, conflicts and the dangerous trend toward undermining human rights, the rule of law, and rules-based international order.” In response to this reality, Augusto Lopez-Claroz, former Director at the World Bank and first author of the recently published book Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st century (http://www.globalgovernanceforum.org/proposals/), summarized the concrete proposals for the restructuring of the UN in response to current global needs.
Lopez-Claroz proposes the creation of a second Chamber at the UN that can, in time, transition into a World Parliamentary Assembly. It would constitute of representatives of global civil society and would serve as a corrective to the UN and a channel through which people at large can hold the UN accountable for the fulfillment of its mission. In order for the UN to be realistically able to fulfil its mission, he proposes a new financing mechanism – a flat percentage of the Gross National Income – that each country contributes in order to avoid political machinations with funding.
These and other concrete proposals respond to the current results from the global inquiry initiated by the UN. The Under-Secretary-General reported that people’s answers converge around the following expectations that that have for the United Nations:
- That it protects more effectively principles of social justice and human rights;
- That it protects the world from the climate crisis;
- That it reduces effectively military conflicts worldwide;
- That it provides real access to healthcare worldwide;
- That it coordinates and protects global cooperation.
It is noted that the current UN structure, created 75 years ago, was not meant to address these new global needs, and that if the lessons from the current pandemic do not lead to the restructuring and executive empowerment of the UN now, that will end up happening after a series of further and deeper global catastrophes.
Lopez-Claroz noted that we live in a world in which “no one is in charge”, and we are constantly surprised by global catastrophes, like the semi-implosion of the world financial system 10 years ago, and the pandemic now. These catastrophes expose how “vulnerable and fragile our economic and other systems are”.
We now face the unprecedented opportunity to mobilize the forces of public opinion in our communities and nations, and to support a new and effective architecture of the United Nations that can solve global problems. The forum reminded of the words of one of the founders of the United Nations that “The UN was not created to take people to heaven, but to protect them from going to hell” – i.e. from the loss of millions of lives and planetary suffering!
The pandemic is now accompanied by an “infodemic”, according to Swedish Minister of Foregn Affairs, i.e. disinformation which threatens open societies.
In an interdependent world, to oppose patriotism to globalism amounts to irrational thinking. Genuine patriotism requires global solutions. You can view the full forum at https://globalchallenges.org/events/the-future-we-want-the-un-we-need/.