The Future of the UN: Recapturing Humanity’s Confidence and Imagination
The article was originally published by The Huffington Post.
The world is in the midst of a profound transformation — unprecedented in scale, scope, and pace. Whilst it is becoming more globalized and interdependent, it is also burdened by growing geopolitical frictions, accelerated environmental degradation, and an erosion of confidence in the international system.
Ensuring stability and continued human progress under such conditions will require new global strategies and solutions, as well as more concerted, robust, and inclusive multilateralism. At the crux of this generational task must stand the United Nations.
However, the UN’s historic accomplishments are in danger of being overshadowed by a sense of stagnation, disillusion, and failure. There is mounting criticism that a status quo approach by the UN will make it unfit for purpose in the 21st century.
I believe that the next Secretary-General should stand at the forefront of common efforts to rejuvenate the Organization.
To that end, I put forth a detailed 80-page Policy Platform, containing 53 specific and concrete commitments that I am prepared to start implementing from Day One.
Achieving sustainable development and fighting climate change is an overarching challenge for humanity. This will necessitate a coordinated and solutions-driven global campaign guided by the United Nations. As Secretary-General, I would place this comprehensive undertaking at the very center of the Organization’s endeavors, and direct the entire UN System to prioritize work on implementing the terms of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement.
I believe that the UN has to modernize its approach to conflict prevention and peace operations. We need a new generation of UN stabilization missions that could be deployed wherever a need arose. As I have laid out in my Platform, such missions would have more robust rules of engagement and better equipment and combat logistics. I also presented key elements for a New Deal for African Peace Operations, as well as my readiness to start a dialogue on how to develop multilateral responses to non-conventional threats, such as those emanating from cyberspace.
As Secretary-General I would fervently champion human rights as a system-wide core UN purpose. More must be done to promote and protect human rights worldwide, which should begin by providing greater resources to the UN human rights machinery on a sustainable basis.
Irrespective of who becomes the next Secretary-General, I believe this election must be a turning point for the role of women in the UN. If given the opportunity to serve, I would appoint qualified women to 50 percent of UN Under-Secretary-General or equivalent positions from Day One. I would also strive to achieve gender parity throughout the UN System. Beyond expanding women’s leadership and career opportunities inside the Organization, my policy proposals also target discrimination against women in all its forms. These include specific measures to address gender-based violence and securing women’s rights to full participation in society.
It is painfully evident that the UN’s current capacity to provide humanitarian relief, support, and assistance in the face of recent crises has proven to be inadequate. As Secretary-General, I would act decisively to mobilize sufficient resources on the part of the UN System to support affected populations around the world. But our duty does not end in providing them with food and shelter. We must also make sure their human dignity is preserved, and that they are given a decent chance to realize a promising future.
The beating heart of the UN System is its Secretariat. As the UN’s chief administrative officer, I would dedicate myself to delivering better value for money to the Member States, cutting waste, eliminating redundancy, and ensuring greater coherence and quality in the delivery of global public goods. I would relentlessly fight corruption, fraud, and abuse; protect internal whistleblowers; strengthen the independence and operations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; require financial disclosures for all applicable staff and nominees for high-level appointments; create an annual, unified, and transparent presentation of the UN budget; and try to develop a system-wide approach to procurement.
I am seeking the privilege to serve as the ninth UN Secretary General guided by three overarching convictions: first, that ensuring more robust multilateralism represents the strongest safety-net against the global perils we face in our times; second, that a revitalized UN should be the centerpiece of global governance; and, third, that the UN’s existing resources must be used more effectively so that the Organization can deliver the results demanded by its membership and the international community at large.
When I was a young man, I witnessed the consequences of the failure of diplomacy, the absence of the rule of law, and the surge of poverty. I fought for democracy, human rights, and reconciliation.
As Foreign Minister, I presided over the Council of Europe and was privileged to spearhead the efforts that led to a consensus in the OSCE, enabling my country to chair the world’s largest regional organization in 2015. As President of the General Assembly, I launched the historic negotiations that led to the establishment of the 2030 Agenda, and facilitated the adoption of the breakthrough Arms Trade Treaty. I worked hard to bridge the divides between developed and developing, which enabled us to formalize UN-G20 cooperation.
The UN has to recapture the imagination of humanity. We must rejuvenate the Organization in order to ensure it remains the world’s premier venue in which nations coalesce around a common agenda for global progress in the 21st-century.
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