Despite the polarization and stasis that characterizes so much of the present politics at the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres is betting that the 75th anniversary of the organization in 2020 will provide an opportunity for the international community to begin to address the “crisis in multilateralism,” and shape a more robust and effective organization.
On 14 June the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a “modalities resolution” titled “Commemoration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations” setting out the framework and practical arrangements for actions by various UN stakeholders to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary.
The resolution identifies the theme for the 75th anniversary (which is meant to guide all activities, meetings and conferences organized by the United Nations in 2020) as “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.” A Leaders Summit is scheduled for 21 September 2020, while “meaningful observance ceremonies” are also planned for June 26 (the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Charter) and October 24 (UN Day). A youth plenary will also be organized in the spring of 2020. And an outcome document will be adopted at the Leaders Summit, following discussions at the upcoming 74th session of the General Assembly.
Against this backdrop, the Secretary-General has appointed a Special Adviser for 75th Anniversary Preparations, highly-regarded Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond of Chile, who had previously served in the SG’s Executive Office as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination. The Secretariat aims to stimulate a “global dialogue” at the local, national and international levels on “The future we want, the United Nations we need.”
The planning document for UN@75 recognizes that an unprecedented confluence of existential threats, systems changes and new actors, including the role of mega-corporations and tech giants, present new governance challenges. These changes “are occurring faster than public institutions ability to adapt or regulate.” The document calls for “a reflection on successes as well as failures, inviting transformational thinking about the potentially momentous paradigm shifts for how the multilateral system as a whole confronts global challenges.”
The website of the UN2020 Initiative contains further information and updates, including links to a recent NGO dialogue with Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary.