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United Nations renews commitment to democracy and human rights

A view of delegates in the General Assembly Hall on 18 September 2020. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Declaration on the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations

According to a declaration adopted today by the United Nations in New York, the world’s heads of state and government renewed their commitment to democracy and human rights.

The document claims that governments “will abide by international law and ensure justice” and that they will “continue to promote respect for democracy and human rights and to enhance democratic governance and the rule of law.”

All in all, the declaration includes 21 paragraphs that address a variety of topics including the “protection of the planet”, the promotion of peace, the prevention of conflicts, placing women and girls at the centre, UN reform, sustainable financing, engaging with youth and global crisis prevention with a view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The statement notes that greenhouse gas emissions and “sustainable consumption and production patterns” need to be achieved and that “this cannot wait.” With regard to partnerships, the resolution says that the UN needs to be made “more inclusive and engage with all relevant stakeholders.”

These lofty words now have to be followed by deeds

The document claims that heads of state and government “will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common future of present and coming generations.”

The penultimate paragraph requests UN Secretary-General António Guterres to present a report with recommendations “to advance our common agenda and to respond to current and future challenges.”

The Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders, Andreas Bummel, commented that the contrast between this resolution and the reality in the world couldn’t be “more drastic”.

“In fact,” he said, “democracy, human rights and multilateralism are under attack and there is little resistance”.

“These lofty words now have to be followed by deeds. Strong doubts as to whether this will happen are justified. Nevertheless, this resolution is an important document. It is a yardstick by which governments and the United Nations can be judged. We will remind them of their commitments”, Bummel stated.

Democracy Without Borders called on the UN Secretary-General to support measures that would increase the democratic character of the United Nations itself. The Berlin-based international civil society organization promotes the creation of a citizen-elected UN Parliamentary Assembly and the instrument of a World Citizens’ Initiative that would allow citizens to put proposals on the UN’s agenda.

The UN’s high-level resolution was passed on 21 September 2020 by the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the world organization. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, world leaders weren’t actually present. Pre-recorded videos were shown in the assembly hall at UN headquarters.