UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, a former Ecuadorian ambassador to the UN, says the 75th anniversary of the creation of the institution is a time for reflection as well as celebration.
In remarks on April 8, she said the anniversary offers both “opportunities” and “serious challenges.” Espinosa said the UN is more vital than ever in a time of rising nationalism and extremism. “We sometimes speak of this moment as ‘a crossroads’ — where things could go either way,” she said. “But it feels more and more like a tipping point — as though we are on the brink of irreparable damage to our rules-based international system.”
UN Credibility at Risk
Espinosa warned that as these forces rise, public confidence in the UN is declining. “We are seeing a growing disconnect between people, governments and institutions,” she said. “Our citizens expect us to keep the promises we have made, through the 2030 Agenda for example. But they are losing faith in our capacity and will to deliver.”
She said the world “badly needs an effective United Nations,” and that in addition to challenges of poverty and conflict, rapid shifts in technology and the present threat of climate change mean “there is virtually no challenge — or opportunity — that does not require cooperation between nations.”
Espinosa challenged the UN to use the anniversary “to galvanize commitment to multilateralism, and to change the way we do business.” She said the anniversary offers “a chance to make the UN more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more relevant to ‘we the peoples.’”
Engage Everyone, Especially Youth
The preparations in the lead-up to the anniversary offer opportunities for all voices to be heard, Espinosa suggested. She called on the UN to engage “all segments of society, especially young people, in a multi-stakeholder process to complement the intergovernmental one.” She also called the anniversary “an opportunity to make progress on the revitalization of the General Assembly, and reform of the Security Council — as well as aligning the agendas of the GA, ECOSOC and their subsidiary bodies to the 2030 Agenda.”
“We are losing the communications battle,” Espinosa warned. However, she added, “the 75th anniversary is a golden opportunity to create a new and convincing narrative about the irreplaceable role of multilateralism and its main home: the United Nations.”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.