A new report published by the Stimson Center outlines recommendations for global governance reforms and a roadmap for implementation that culminates in a proposed “World Summit on Inclusive Global Governance” in 2023.
The 117-pages document says that there is reason for “cautious optimism” despite various ongoing threats to multilateral cooperation such as great power competition, nationalism and populism, socioeconomic setbacks and environmental risks.
According to the study, ideas such as a new social contract, a new global deal, and networked and inclusive multilateralism put forward by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, represent a firm conceptual starting point for a substantial rethinking of the United Nations in order to make the organization more effective in dealing with global challenges.
Proposals for global governance reform
The report’s substantive recommendations are related to twelve commitments made in a high-level declaration adopted by the UN last year on the occasion of the world organization’s 75th anniversary and build on extensive consultations carried out with representatives of the UN Secretariat, UN missions in New York and civil society.
Proposals elaborated on in the study include
- creating a G20+ that is better coordinated with the UN system and Bretton Woods institutions;
- defining and implementing global climate adaptation goals;
- transitioning from today’s UN Peacebuilding Commission to a strengthened UN Democratic Peacebuilding Council;
- seeking universal acceptance and strengthening of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court;
- improving the full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
- establishing an International Anti-Corruption Court;
- establishing a United Nations Parliamentary Network as a step towards a full-fledged assembly;
- setting up a new “funding compact” to improve financing of the UN system;
- establishing the office of a UN civil society champion and a UN Youth Advisory Council;
- and the creation of a Global Health Threats Council, a Pandemic Framework Convention, and strengthening of the World Health Organization.
Towards a World Summit
The proposed strategy to implement these and other changes according to Stimson would have to be driven by “a comprehensive, intergovernmental, and multi-stakeholder preparatory effort” aiming at “truly innovating the United Nations system” so it would “keep pace with present peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights challenges.”
The think tank proposes ten specific steps in order to put this process in motion and to prepare for a 2023 World Summit on Inclusive Global Governance, moved forward by “smart coalitions” of governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders. Suggested steps include setting up an organizing team at the UN Secretariat, convening preparatory commissions on different continents, holding people’s forums, a parliamentary conference, a youth event and other dialogues across the world and online, creating a diverse advisory body, and helping establish “a global movement” in order to mobilize popular support and foster political will.
Drawing on the recent example of the international civil society statement for inclusive global governance, the report notes that “a growing number of civil society organizations worldwide may wish to invest their ideas, energy, and resources in summit preparations.”
At an online event on the proposed world summit on 25 June, organized by Stimson in collaboration with the Coalition for the UN We Need, among others, the Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders, Andreas Bummel, stressed that the ultimate goal was that the summit would “deliver outcomes.” “The process towards the summit might create an irresistable dynamic of change,” he observed.
As part of this effort, the Stimson Center together with the Academic Council on the United Nations System, Plataforma CIPÓ, and Leiden University launched a Global Governance Innovation Network at an event on 24 June. According to the network’s website, this new collaboration will do policy research with a focus “on analyzing and responding to gaps” in a set of broadly defined global governance areas.
People expect bold action
At a virtual “Global Town Hall” organized by the Coalition for the UN We Need on 22 June (find a recording here), the Executive Director of UNA-UK, Natalie Samarasinghe, observed with a view of the UN’s own recent public consultations that “the line between bold, big ideas and actionable, feasible, more incremental ideas seems to be disappearing now”, stressing that people want “an inspiring new vision”.
At the same event, the Secretary-General of CIVICUS, Lysa John, emphasized that “there is a very strong demand for the UN to systematically address the democratic deficit at various levels”, highlighting the proposals in the civil society statement for inclusive global governance: a UN civil society envoy, a UN Parliamentary Assembly, and a UN World Citizens’ Initiative.
Cristina Petcu of Stimson indicated that it was time for the UN to follow up on the consultations, remarking that “we are getting to the point of consultation-without-action fatigue.”
The Permanent Representative of Slovakia at the UN, Michal Mlynár, said that he believes that the next 76th session of the UN General Assembly beginning in September 2021 represents “definitely a good moment and a good opportunity for us to launch the intergovernmental discussions on the future and the shape of the UN system based on the 75th anniversary declaration.”
In a comment for this piece, Richard Ponzio, Director of the Global Governance, Justice & Security Program at Stimson, noted that “the world needs a better way of marshaling its talent and resources – new tools, networks, and institutions – for better grappling with today’s pressing global challenges. Such a rethink, sealed by a 2023 World Summit on Inclusive Global Governance, has become a moral and practical imperative.”