Baha’is hosts UN75 Declaration Dialogue series on the future of global governance
by Bahai International Community
New York—14 May 2020—
The Baha’i International Community, in collaboration with UN2020 and Together First, hosted a three-part online dialogue to exchange ideas on the latest intergovernmental contribution addressing the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The three discussions, held on 23 April, 30 April, and 7 May focused on the three sections of an elements paper outlining the most critical issues expressed by Member States for the UN75 political declaration which include: acknowledging achievements and looking ahead, delivering on commitments and responding to global challenges, and building consensus and mobilizing for change. Cumulatively, the breakfasts drew over 500 attendees from nearly 40 countries, and included representatives from 32 Member State missions. One-page summaries of each of the three discussions can be found here.
“We have found that one of the unfortunate effects of the ongoing pandemic is a reduction of space for genuine interaction between Member States and civil society” said Daniel Perell, Representative of the BIC to the United Nations. “We are trying to offer an opportunity for the genuine exchange of views. Despite the circumstances—or because of them—new opportunities are now available for even greater degrees of participation.”
“We come to these discussions with an understanding that humanity is constantly in a state of development and evolution,” shared Mr. Perell in remarks commencing the series. “Naturally, no one knows precisely what the future holds for humanity … therefore, the spirit animating these meetings is one of collective exploration and inquiry.”
The discussions touched on a number of topics including the changing realities of humanity and the need for international cooperation and solidarity.
“The establishment of the United Nations 75 years ago represented a remarkable achievement in human progress and ingenuity, and was reflective of the needs identified at the time.” Yet, “with each passing year and with each passing crisis, the fundamental unity of the human race and its various systems comes into greater clarity.”
Acknowledging the contributions of the United Nations over the years, the discussions also centered around the need to both strengthen current systems and to reconsider global governance in light of changing realities.
“In our ongoing search for truth, it is hoped that spaces such as these can help to generate insight into what is needed for global governance today,” stated Mr. Perell. “Isn’t this, in part, what we are called to do in honor of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations?”
At the meetings, a variety of actors shared perspectives on issues such as humanity’s current conceptualization of national sovereignty.
“The big challenge we have is this extreme tension and gap between the system we have and the system we require,” one representative from civil society stated. “Our concept of national sovereignty is no longer viable. It is now just a nominal international law principle, since no country is truly autonomous.”
Discussions addressed the relationship between Member States, the United Nations, and civil society. In considering the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, which begins with the statement “We the peoples”, one Ambassador asked, “How do we give voice to that statement? Do we remain exclusive in our efforts? Or do we find a way, especially now that we are learning how to bring voices together remotely from all around the world?”
In considering constructive approaches needed, another Ambassador shared, “This period of COVID carries questions the UN has to ask: What have we learned? What vision do we want? And how can we craft a vision of the future that speaks to all people as it is showing us the many socioeconomic inequalities that exist?”
“We need to ask, is the UN fit for purpose, and how can we make it fit for purpose?” the Ambassador continued, “We are not just tinkering with the institutions… We need to step back and ask, what is the world we want in the future? Because this is the opportunity to craft a document that gives effect to that.”