Global Policy and Development


UN2020: A Civil Society Partnership for the UN We Need

The UN’s 75th anniversary is an opportunity to bolster the importance of global cooperation and multilateralism despite numerous challenges.

Image: of UN

Climate change, arms races, rising inequality: These and many other challenges require a bold collective answer and global cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations. At the same time, the United Nations, as the world's premier political body, continues to be under attack, underfunded, and unable to respond adequately to the many challenges that humanity faces. It is high time therefore to give multilateralism and the UN a boost and the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020 will provide an important opportunity for this. Civil society groups therefore started the UN2020 initiative calling for using the 75th anniversary as an opportunity to hold governments accountable to the commitments they made in 1945 and to strengthen the UN in support of a people-centered multilateralism.

UN Member States so far have been slowly embracing the anniversary. In June 2019, the General Assembly adopted a modalities resolution (A/RES/73/299), calling for a Leaders Summit on 21 September 2020 and the adoption of a “concise, substantive, forward-looking and unifying declaration”.

Moreover, on 24 October 2019, the UN Secretary-General launched UN75, his own effort of stocktaking and review, including a series of Global Dialogues on the major challenges we face and the role of global cooperation in addressing them.

FES New York works with all three initiatives. The aim is to use the 75th anniversary of the UN as a launch pad leading to renewal, innovation, and reform of the United Nations system after 2020. This does not mean, however, to reinvent the wheel or to create a stand-alone campaign. Instead, at its recent strategy meeting, UN2020 decided that the 75th anniversary should carry forward key international civil society campaigns on important global agreements and events, such as the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development; the Paris Agreement to curb climate change, the Beijing plus 25 meetings for gender equality; and the 2020 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to push for nuclear disarmament.

Another important goal for UN2020 will be to maximize global civil society’s influence in the Member States’ Political Declaration. Such impact will also depend on civil society formulating its own demands and proposals, going beyond what will be addressed by UN Member States. Leading towards an independent civil society declaration, UN2020 will also host a series of national and regional civil society forums. A People’s UN75 Forum will be held in New York in April, ahead of April 24, the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace. Additional events, such as on June 26 in San Francisco, to commemorate the signing of the UN Charter, will generate further momentum ahead of the 75th anniversary Summit, September 21.

UN2020 welcomes all progressive voices of civil society to join: Contact UN2020(at); #multilateralismmatters

Department/Section: Globale Politik und Entwicklung

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Elisabeth Bollrich
Elisabeth Bollrich
+49 30 269 35 75 14

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