UN2020 campaign continues as Coalition for the UN We Need

Conference of the UN2020 campaign in New York, November 2019. Image: DWB/UN2020

Democracy Without Borders (DWB) has been involved in the UN2020 campaign since its inception in 2017. Now that the UN’s 75th anniversary is over and the year 2020 has ended, the name and mandate of the UN2020 campaign has reached an expiry date. Rather than ending the campaign, however, it has been transformed into the Coalition for the UN We Need, in short C4UN.

UN2020 was a civil society-led campaign that was striving to use the opportunity of the UN’s 75th anniversary for much-needed stocktaking, recognition of achievements, and consideration of measures to strengthen the organisation.

In an era of national populism and questioning of multilateralism, this work has not been easy. As has been discussed in an article on this blog, it was unclear whether 2020 was to become a “landing pad” or a “launch pad”. Fortunately, with the General Assembly resolution, adopted in June 2019 outlining modalities for the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, plus the subsequent UN75 Declaration, adopted September 21 2020, the outcome was more of a launch than a landing. A process to strengthen the United Nations system now seems likely.

Meeting of the UN2020 campaign in November 2019 in New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings in 2020 had to be held online. Image: DWB

The 2019 modalities resolution identified an ambitious, forward-looking theme for the 75th anniversary: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”, which was the basis for the UN Secretariat’s UN75 global outreach program. And last September’s declaration sets out twelve commitments to action across the UN’s global agenda, and also calls on the Secretary-General to report back to the General Assembly “with recommendations to advance our common agenda and respond to current and future challenges.”

Promoting inclusive people-centered multilateralism

As 2020 was closing, the UN2020 campaign drafted a ten-page strategic plan for 2021-2023 that spells out the restructuring and rebranding process. The document states C4UN‘s vision to help “transform the UN system by promoting inclusive people-centered multilateralism in partnership with civil society, governments, and the UN.” More specifically, C4UN intends to continue support and take advantage of the achievements of 2020, most notably the UN75 Political Declaration adopted by governments; the UN75 People’s Declaration and Plan for Global Action, adopted by civil society, following extensive consultation among members of the campaign; and an “eminent persons letter” – 49 former world leaders calling for establishing a dedicated intergovernmental process to strengthen the UN.

The campaign’s main political document, the UN75 People’s Declaration was adopted on May 14-15 2020 at a virtual event gathering over 600 civil society participants from 75 countries around the world. As has been reported in an article on this blog, this declaration, among other things, includes support for a UN World Citizens’ Initiative as well as a UN Parliamentary Assembly, the two most important programs promoted by DWB. At the time, DWB’s Executive Director Andreas Bummel stated that the “single most important goal” was to achieve an ongoing Post-2020 process that pursues global governance innovations.

With the UN Secretary-General mandated to report to the General Assembly later this year outlining plans to strengthen multilateralism, C4UN campaigners are beginning to feel like some wind is in their sails.

Organizations and networks can join C4UN and are invited to apply under three categories: partner, member or supporter.

Hans Leander
Hans is a board member of Democracy Without Borders-Sweden