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UN must acknowledge need of “major overhaul”, civil society document says

Participants in the Global Futures Forum in March 2023. Image: C4UN

The Coalition for the UN We Need, an alliance of civil society groups advocating for a stronger UN, has released the outcomes of an international conference, the Global Futures Forum, that was held in New York and online in March this year. The gathering brought together civil society representatives and experts to consider proposals to the UN as the world organization and its member governments are preparing for a series of conferences, the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in 2023, the Summit of the Future in 2024 and on Social Development in 2025.

Outcomes of the Global Futures Forum released

At a civil society round table convened this week in Berlin by the World Future Council in collaboration with a number of groups, among them Democracy Without Borders, the “Interim Peopleʼs Pact for the Future” was presented to a representative of the German foreign office. The document was further presented by Democracy Without Borders’ Executive Director Andreas Bummel to the chair of the German parliament’s subcommittee on UN affairs, Monika Grütters. Germany together with Namibia currently serves as a co-facilitator of the UN’s negotiations on the Summit of the Future.

Presentation of the People’s Pact” to a representative of the German foreign office on 24 May 2023. In the picture Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament; Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director, World Future Council; Fabia Schreiber, German Foreign Ministry; Vanda Proskova, co-convener, Youth Fusion. Photo: DWB

The document outlines thirty-three recommendations and next steps across seven thematic fields related to the Sustainable Development Goals, environmental governance, human rights and participation, a global digital compact, the global economic and financial architecture, peace and security as well as innovating the UN and global governance. According to a press release issued by the coalition, the proposals “are driven by five key objectives: a longer-term future orientation, global institutional reform, a whole of society approach, meeting existing commitments, and building trust.”

“The changes necessary may be at odds with the political landscape” but the “urgency of the moment calls for a concrete reform of the multilateral system”, the introduction points out. As “conflicting priorities, unmet promises, and the erosion of trust” was hindering progress, governments need to “seize the rare opportunity” of the upcoming summits “to launch a process to create a renewed multilateral system”.

Numerous institutional reforms are suggested

Numerous institutional reforms are suggested in the “People’s Pact”. The creation of a “Global Resilience Council” is recommended “to ensure a more coherent and inclusive decision-making process” with a view of “multi-dimensional global challenges like climate change, conflicts, and pandemics.” In the environmental realm, the establishment of “an Environmental Governance Agency with binding, supranational authority to provide effective, integrated, equitable and accountable global governance of the Earth System” is put forward. In the field of finance, a new “International Anti-Corruption Court to tackle grand corruption and illicit financial flows” is supported. 

Democracy Without Borders’ Executive Director Andreas Bummel presents the pact to Monika Grütters, chair of the German parliament’s subcommittee on UN affairs. Photo: Office of Monika Grütters

The section on “UN and global governance innovation” endorses the “We The Peoples” campaign for inclusive global governance and its three proposals: the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly, a UN World Citizens’ Initiative and a UN Civil Society Envoy. These suggestions aim at connecting the UN closer to citizens, their elected representatives and civil society, thus creating opportunities for their involvement and enhancing the organization’s accountability. “A stronger UN also requires a more legitimate UN”, the document says. In a next step, like-minded member states should form “a Group of Friends for Inclusive Global Governance” to investigate and move these ideas forward.

The need of a major overhaul should be acknowledged

According to the “People’s Pact”, the upcoming “Summit of the Future should acknowledge the need of a major overhaul of the UN and global governance. For this purpose, a Charter Review Conference according to Article 109 of the UN Charter should be convened”. Such a review should include, among other things, a reform of the UN Security Council and an elimination of the veto power, empowering the UN General Assembly and upgrading the UN Parliamentary Assembly “from a subsidiary to a principal organ”. 

In the conclusion, it is pointed out that 2030 may be a “propitious time” to convene a UN Charter review conference. It is noted that this date “would give the international community sufficient time to conduct research and exploration, it would not overshadow the current objectives of the UN system, and it could help lay the foundations for whatever plans are to emerge after the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The “Interim Peopleʼs Pact for the Future” is available as a PDF download here