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UN2020 Update (December 2019)

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by Fergus Watt

The UN2020 Campaign is dedicated to using the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020 as an opportunity to take stock and strengthen the UN system. Across a range of sectors, from human rights to peace, sustainable development, climate change, gender equality, migration and humanitarian issues, there is a widespread recognition that our institutions of global governance are not fit for purpose. And these problems are getting worse, not better.

In partnership with civil society, like-minded governments, and the UN Secretariat, the campaign supports a more effective, people-centered multilateralism.

As the 75th anniversary approaches, activity within the UN2020 campaign and elsewhere has gathered momentum.

In June the General Assembly adopted a “modalities resolution” that decided that the UN shall prepare a Leaders Summit on 21 September 2020 to commemorate its 75th anniversary under the theme “the future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.” The President of the General Assembly will soon be appointing two co-facilitators to lead and conclude intergovernmental negotiations on a “concise, substantive, forward-looking and unifying declaration” perhaps as early as June 2020.

Member States decided that the UN75 theme shall guide all activities, meetings and conferences organized by the UN in 2020, emphasizing the need to engage civil society and youth in all activities to commemorate the anniversary.

On 24 October the Secretary-General launched the UN Secretariat’s ambitious UN75 program, calling for a series of UN75 “Global Dialogues” on the major challenges we face and the role of global cooperation in addressing them.

Although current political conditions do not bode well for a significant renewal of the UN system by the time of the September 2020 Summit, UN2020 campaigners are calling for the current UN75 activities to launch a much-needed longer term process, one that would lead to institutional modernization and reform. This idea seems to be gathering momentum. In September, over 50 Foreign Ministers attended the launch event of an “Alliance for Multilateralism.” And there are rumours of a renewed global experts process, similar to the Commission on Global Governance of the 1990s.

UN2020 has planned, hosted, or otherwise participated in a range of events over the second half of 2019, at UN headquarters in New York and at various national


On November 12th, a day-long information, organization and strategy meeting was held in New York. Over 80 organizations participated in developing a UN2020 Plan of Action and a division of labour for the year ahead.

Updates, along with links to recent videos and meeting outcome documents, can be found on the UN2020 website (, where there is also a sign up for the email newsletter as well as opportunities to participate in the campaign.

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