In response to a specific request by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, Club de Madrid has contributed a report on the follow-up to the commitments adopted in the “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations” (UN75 Declaration), a series of principles to reinvigorate global cooperation.
In the report titled “Our Common Agenda – UN After 75: Proposals to reinvigorate an inclusive, networked and effective multilateralism”, Members have shared a set of concrete proposals to help foster an inclusive, networked and effective multilateralism as the best resort to address global challenges both today and in the future. Among many other recommendations, the former Heads of State and Government stressed the importance of placing Agenda 2030 at the core of global initiatives, making Human Rights central to all conversations regarding peace, security and development, and holding a 2nd World Summit for Social Development for the world after COVID-19.
Members have also paid much attention to the role of youth. They fully support the creation of a new body of youth and with youth, one which represents their fresh voices and enables their participation in real decision-making processes at the multilateral level. Furthermore, the Our Common Agenda – UN After 75 Report also advocates for a New Global Security Agenda that expands the definition of security to threats related to health, energy, the cybersphere, food and climate.
These are just some of the many proposals resulting from a series of consultations among Members and advisors of Club de Madrid. Throughout the year 2020 and under the umbrella of our programme Multilateralism and Global Cooperation, we have held a series of discussions on enabling a global environment for democracy and a renewed multilateral system that is fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.
“The moment has come to set the world on a new path more equitable, secure and sustainable, fit for purpose in the 21st century and able to leave no one behind”, says Danilo Türk, President of Club de Madrid. Implementing the UN75 Declaration requires “political will, significant reforms, and measurable implementation”, he adds.
Below are some of the proposals of Club de Madrid to revitalize multilateralism and support the 12 commitments of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations.
Proposals for an inclusive, networked and effective multilateral system
Commitment 1 – We will leave no one behind
We encourage all efforts to evaluate the effects of the pandemic on the implementation and achievement of the SDG and support the idea of recalibrating Agenda 2030. The pandemic has made evident the need to emphasise the social aspects of development, especially those related to education, employment, social protection and healthcare. We should redouble efforts to strengthen the United Nations framework on social development through a Social Development Charter.
In order to reaffirm our commitment to social and economic protection in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we propose holding a Second World Summit for Social Development, which leads to a renewed Copenhagen Declaration placing “human dignity” at its core, and with the 2030 Agenda as its framework. The upcoming review of the United Nations Human Rights Council is also an opportunity to make the human rights system more relevant and effective.
Commitment 2 – We will protect the planet
We must accelerate commitments to mitigate climate change and meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement and assess whether UNEP has the appropriate mandate, structure and resources to play its part in advancing sustainable development. The 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) will provide a good occasion to seriously consider the needed institutional improvements.
Commitment 3 – We will promote peace and prevent violence
We should reexamine the concept of security in the 21st Century. Beyond nuclear weapons and wars, still a scourge in many societies, climate change, pandemics, drug trafficking and organised crime pose much more threats to our security. We henceforth need a new Global Security Agenda that expands the classic definition of security and includes new threats related to health, energy, the cybersphere, food, and climate and help produce better crisis management responses.
COVID-19 has also reminded us yet again that these threats can have a potentially devastating global impact unless we are prepared and react quickly. Other pandemics or new variants of the SARS-COV-2 could produce new disruptions. Other looming threats, such as climate change, are also devastating our environments, while action remains scarce. This is why Club de Madrid proposes a more robust emergency response system and a more reliable early warning system for traditional and non-traditional threats.
Commitment 4 – We will abide by international law and ensure justice
While democracy was already under strain before the pandemic, COVID-19 has amplified existing fault lines in democratic systems. During periods of emergency measures, oversight by parliaments, media and civil society has been insufficient in some jurisdictions. On the other hand, the pandemic has showcased systemic flaws that constrain democracy’s ability to come out of such a crisis and safeguard citizen’s trust in the system. With the Global Commission on Democracy and Emergencies which we will soon launch, we hope to formulate policy recommendations that increase the resilience of democratic societies in situations of emergency.
The progressive development of international law has to intensify, in particular in the areas characterised by the rapid development of technology, such as artificial intelligence and internet governance.
Commitment 5 – We will place women and girls at the center
The United Nations and the whole multilateral framework must hold Member States accountable for their commitments to gender equality and women’s participation. This means clearer and more measurable indicators of progress to enhance the accountability of existing UN Resolutions. Multilateral organisations must increase the representation of women as peace mediators, as well as in their executive and technical staff.
The 30th anniversary of Beijing will open new opportunities to take stock of what has been achieved and mobilize new commitments towards the end of inequality and human rights abuses against women.
Commitment 6 – We will build trust
Disinformation and the spread of fake news are some of the drivers of political shifts in different communities. Algorithms have created echo chambers that push citizens into delimited ideological camps, often favouring extremist and polarising ideologies. This has led to a dwindling trust in political institutions. The United Nations and other multilateral organisations could contribute to policy-making and normative discussions addressing disinformation in the political sphere. Nevertheless, structural drivers behind the declining trust in institutions, such as economic inequality, should also be addressed.
Commitment 7 – We will improve digital cooperation
Club de Madrid advocates for a new Social Contract for the Age of Artificial Intelligence, which sets out a human-centric approach for the governance of AI-based on inclusion, fairness, protection of privacy and accountability.
We support efforts to transform the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation into a United Nations Convention on Artificial Intelligence to define a more human-centred, managed use. We also support the definition of universal standards of accountability for any discrimination that may result from the use of AI and automated decision-making systems.
Furthermore, we propose to develop a globally agreed set of norms and measures to enable improved global connectivity, inclusive digital platforms and better internet management – a “Bretton Woods for Digitalization”.
Commitment 8 – We will upgrade the United Nations
United Nations reforms will never be complete without UN Security Council reform which reflects the realities of the 21st century and transforms it into a more representative, effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent body. While it is unlikely that the composition or the veto power of P5 members will change in the near future, states should adopt a collective undertaking to use their veto sparingly. The Council should increase consultations with a broader range of actors, such as regional organisations and other entities.
We welcome debates to raise the profile of the Economic and Social Council. This UN body could better reflect the vision of developing countries in economic decision-making processes and become more influential in public debates. The Council could also be reinforced to become a leader in global economic policy alongside the Bretton Woods institutions.
Commitment 9 – We will ensure sustainable finance
After COVID-19, there is a need for an urgent, coordinated growth plan. The United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the G20 should be able to come together to make sure that no country is left behind. Sufficient funds should be made available to developing countries and international organisations should agree on Special Drawing Rights backed up by debt restructuring. This would allow developing countries with strained public finances to allocate resources to the fight against COVID-19.
International financial institutions should include equity, inclusion and well-being in their mission-level objectives. Based on these objectives, they could support prudent fiscal stimulus to sustain economic activity, engage in tax reform for greater tax fairness, accommodative monetary policies, and debt relief, among other initiatives.
Commitment 10 – We will boost partnerships
The United Nations and its Member states should devote more efforts to foster coordination and integration at the regional level. Furthermore, we should strengthen current mechanisms to involve the private sector in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative, visionary and realistic solutions. An alliance between public and private resources can encourage companies to self-regulate and develop greater standards.
Commitment 11 – We will listen to and work with youth
The United Nations should be aware of the disconnect between young people and traditional institutions. The time has come to enable young people’s active participation in real decision-making processes at the multilateral level. We support the creation of a new body on youth and with youth under article 22 of the UN Charter. In addition, the Economic and Social Council should consider setting up a standing permanent forum on youth.
The United Nations should adapt to new forms of participation and communications, which are more direct and horizontal. Current initiatives in the public information side like UN Clubs and Model UN are valuable, but they often reach a small number of privileged young citizens. By allocating extra resources, the UN could engage young people, especially those in vulnerable communities.
Commitment 12 – We will be prepared
The top priority for the world at present should be to work together to control the pandemic. Our best chance is an equal distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries. International efforts should support initiatives with precisely that aim, such as the People’s Vaccine Alliance, COVAX and TAP.
The WHO needs a strengthened authority, enforcement capabilities and resources. It also needs to clarify what it can and cannot do in order to find alternative multilateral solutions.
Additionally, the world would benefit from a Convention on Pandemics, which sets out obligations of Member states to build resilience to pandemic threats and supports an early warning system.
Proposals from ‘Our Common Agenda – UN After 75’ have been included in the fifth outcome report of the ‘Fulfilling the UN75 Declaration’s Promise Expert Series’ organised with the Coalition for the UN We Need, Stimson Center and Bahá’i International Community.