Conceptual advances for the United Nations 2.0
The author is a research analyst at the Stimson Center
– The UN Secretary-General’s forthcoming report “Our Common Agenda”, to be released ahead of this year’s UN General Assembly High Level Week, is expected to offer ambitious recommendations to accelerate achievement of the Declaration of the UN75 as the world tackles the Covid19 pandemic.
Although the ideas in the report are still not disclosed, three notions are likely to represent conceptual elements: a “new social contract”, a “new global agreement” and a “networked and inclusive multilateralism” each permeated the discussions of current high level in the United States. United Nations, especially in the speeches of UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Although these three concepts are not explicitly mentioned in the UN Declaration75, they are implicit in the framing of the 12 commitments of the declaration. Drawing on the perspectives of past and present academics, world leaders, policy makers and practitioners, these powerful notions are each developed in the recent report from the Stimson Center, “Beyond the UN75: a roadmap for inclusive, networked and effective global governance. “
Critics, including the United Nations, argue that the current state of the social contract is outdated and unable to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century. The UN Secretary-General himself has stressed that a new social contract is “”an opportunity to rebuild a more egalitarian and sustainable world“COVID-19.
A new modernized social contract could, indeed, help advance a fairer post-COVID-19 recovery and economic policies that see the realization of human rights as an end in itself, rather than just one more channel. to achieve high levels of economic growth under obsolete metrics.
This could include a global political commitment to ensure social protection floors and universal access to education systems, among other initiatives that seek to respond to the major economic, technological and societal changes currently underway.
Likewise, a fair, resilient and sustainable social contract should restore people’s trust in institutions of governance. Trust is a prerequisite that provides legitimacy to those in power, and it first of all allows the existence of a contract.
With the “new social contract” being the long-term vision and goal for weaving a new normative fiber binding states and peoples, the world also needs a more operational “new global agreement”.
the UN Secretary General suggested that a new global deal would result in a redistribution of power, wealth and opportunity, as well as global political and economic systems that provide essential global public goods: public health, climate action, sustainable development and peace.
This echoes long-standing discussions about representativeness in the current system of global governance, for example with the distribution of Special Drawing Rights to the International Monetary Fund, which gives the United States a blocking minority share, or the placing in place of the Security Council with its five permanent veto powers and ten non-permanent members.
Redistribution and reallocation of resources should also be considered in light of calls for a ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to recalibrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The advancement of a new social contract and a new global agreement also requires a networked and inclusive multilateralism. This would entail a paradigm shift from a state-centric international world order to one in which a myriad of actors, beyond nation-states (especially the traditional great powers), can share and implement. collaborative solutions to complex problems.
Delivering the future we want will not come from “Polarized member states or politicized UN secretariats. “It will be the result of collaborations between international officials, member states and progressive networks of non-state actors, including academics, academics, media, businesses, philanthropic organizations and other stakeholders.
In this spirit, the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations must update their rules of engagement with non-state actors, in order to facilitate networked and inclusive multilateralism. There is no shortage of ideas for institutional innovation that can help build inclusive multilateralism.
For example, the Call for inclusive global governance, published in April 2021 and endorsed by over 150 civil society organizations around the world, provides three recommendations to promote greater inclusion and participation of civil society at the UN: first, the creation of a formal instrument, a global citizens’ initiative, to enable citizens to influence the work of the UN; second, a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly to enable the inclusion of elected representatives in agenda setting and decision making at the UN; and third, the appointment of a United Nations Civil Society Envoy to support greater engagement of civil society at the United Nations.
Networked and inclusive multilateralism, going beyond classic intergovernmentalism, offers a platform and a framework to carry out a new global order (operational plan) in the service of the establishment of a new social contract (vision).
What is needed now is thought leadership, combined with a well-designed reform strategy to channel these ideas in support of a more interconnected and participatory global governance system.
Guided by these three powerful concepts, the Secretary-General’s “Our Common Agenda” can generate political momentum for potential. 2023 World Summit on Inclusive Global Governance to truly innovate the United Nations system to stay in tune with present and future challenges and opportunities.
The 75th anniversary of the United Nations was seen as an opportunity to lay the foundations for a new type of multilateralism. While the adoption of the UN75 Declaration represents an important milestone, its vision has yet to be matched with a corresponding global action plan.
Bouncing back now from COVID-19 presents an opportunity to also rebuild a global system that can help all nations and peoples effectively overcome current global inequalities, injustices and insecurity. We all have a responsibility to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism.