Together First: A new campaign for global governance reform

Democracy Without Borders supports Together First, a global campaign that advocates a reform and transformation of today’s global governance into “a global system that works for all.”

A global system that works for all

Launched on the occasion of the Paris Peace Forum on 11 November 2018, the new movement of global citizens and non-governmental organizations is coordinated by a group of experts, practitioners, civil society activists and business leaders from all regions of the world.

Following French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was one of the speakers at the Paris Peace Forum (photo: UN)

Together First acknowleges that major risks cross national borders and require global solutions. The campaign plans to identify ways to address global risks that humanity faces more effectively and enable the whole world to join the conversation. Leading ideas will be prioritised in order to produce a ‘to-do’ list for the international community. To make them a reality, individuals, NGOs, states and businesses will be mobilized by the campaign.

The campaign originates from a diverse group of participants in a working group of the New Shape Process hosted by the Global Challenges Foundation titled “Getting from here to there” that included representatives of Democracy Without Borders. It is coordinated by the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK) with ongoing support from the foundation. 

In October, a preparatory meeting was held at the UN Foundation’s premises in New York (photo: DWB)

In a recent report, Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of UNA-UK and the working group’s coordinator, explained that “a confluence of crises – political, economic and social – is fuelling conflict and instability across the globe, exacerbated by long-term risks like climate change and weapons proliferation. Globalisation has increased our vulnerability to shocks and reduced the ability of governments to address traditionally domestic problems, like job creation and fiscal balances, which increasingly have a global dimension.”

What is needed is cohesion, coordination and will

She stressed that “it is not a lack of solutions that has impeded progress” towards strengthening and transforming the international system. What is needed instead is “cohesion, coordination and will” – which Together First is now determined to create.

According to Together First, the UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 must be the starting point of a global governance transformation. Together First is campaigning for states, civil society and business to mark this occasion with a world summit that will discuss, adopt and initiate urgent reforms.

The slogan Together First was used by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a speech at the UN General Assembly in September where he mounted a strong defence of multilateralism (here is our report).

Democracy Without Borders’s Executive Director Andreas Bummel said that a broad, integrated and focussed effort of global civil society advocating major changes in the global system has been missing for a long time.

“We hope that Together First will fill this void and we endorse this effort wholeheartedly. From our perspective it is necessary to push for short-term, mid-term and long-term solutions at the same time. Immediate problems need our attention but we must also recognize and address their systemic roots to find lasting solutions,” he said.