Where the World Goes to Talk it Over: The UN General Assembly

September 6, 2017

This thoughtful essay in the September edition of Le Monde diplomatique by Anne-Cécile Robert and Romuald Sciora provides insight into recent developments at the General Assembly. It highlights the important role that the Assembly is playing in international affairs. 

The GA is the only representative body for the planet, yet it is not a world parliament: only elections could give it the legitimacy of a parliament in a democratic state and that is probably unrealistic. However, the GA is unique in its ability to reflect change in international relations (the surprise election of Thomson, the mobilisation of small states and China) and in its values, derived from the UN charter, harnessing the desire for power in the service of collective security. At a time when the redrawing of the geopolitical map is raising tensions, it is, despite imperfections, the only forum conducive to the establishment of a progressive international order.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres gives talk on future of UN in London

May 17, 2017

Speaking for the first time in London as UN Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined the major challenges which he anticipates for the work of the UN in the coming years, and indicated the priorities he would pursue as Secretary-General. The meeting, organised by the UN Association UK, took place in Westminster Central Hall, the site of the very first session of the United Nations General Assembly, in 1946.

The full speech, followed by a lively Q & A session, is available on YouTube. Mr Guterres' remarks begin at 14 minutes and 20 seconds.

Some reflections on his remarks:

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Global Norms: Building an Inclusive Multilateralism

April 3, 2017

Former UNDP Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Bruce Jenks, discusses the UN's role in establishing basic rules and norms for international relations:  

In the history of the United Nations, there have been turning points when the UN has had the vision to see an opportunity emerge and to seize that opportunity, thereby reaffirming its relevance and vitality. In a rapidly changing world, where the world as we know it is changing before our eyes, the web of values and normative frameworks that lie at the foundation of so many of the processes required for an inclusive globalisation need to be nurtured, perhaps adapted and certainly strengthened. In his oath of office speech, the new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, noted that “Today´s paradox is that, despite greater connectivity, societies are becoming more fragmented … In the end, it comes down to values. We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: peace, justice,respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity.”
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Identity Politics and Intolerance a Barrier to Development, says UN Report

March 27, 2017

The United Nations annual Human Development Report has just been released. It's theme is Human Development for Everyone.

In this Guardian report Brexit is cited as an example of a nationalist agenda that could hold back progress on the global goals.

The annual human development index said that at a time when global action and collaboration were imperative in achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030, exclusion and intolerance could prevent progress reaching everyone. “Brexit is one of the most recent examples of a retreat to nationalism … ” the report said. “Intolerance of others in all its forms – legal, social or coercive – is antithetical to human development.”

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Women Meet with Guterres at UN Townhall Meeting

March 21, 2017

World Goodwill attended a Townhall Meeting at UN Headquarters in NY on Friday, 17 March. Large numbers of women from around the world are currently at UN HQ for the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which includes official UN meetings together with numerous side events for NGO representatives. The Townhall provided an opportunity for women’s Civil Society Organizations to meet with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. 

It was a productive gathering, clearly setting the  intention for a continual dialogue and constructive working relationship between women’s civil society and the Office of the Secretary General.  

"You are all very kind to come," said Guterres, "Let's spend the time we have together with me listening to your insights.  We want gender parity, 50-50, by 2030.  How do you see it happening?"

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