Collective action within UN framework needed to tackle global challenges

Ahead of the high-level meetings of the United Nations scheduled for Monday, the international community expects world leaders to make collective efforts to address global challenges.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the UN which finds itself standing at another juncture in human history given rising unilateralism and protectionism.

“As we mark the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, it is clear that the world has high expectations of us, as the main platform for multilateralism and cooperation on a rules-based international system,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the opening of the first plenary meeting of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

On Monday, UN member states are expected to adopt a declaration, reaffirming their commitments to a reinvigorated multilateralism.

In his opening remarks at the UNGA meeting, Volkan Bozkir, president of the 75th session of the UNGA, said “the context in which we are working serves to remind us of the necessity of the multilateral system and inspires us all to make use of the UN Charter to address our collective challenges,” in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disease that has been ravaging across the world has infected more than 30 million people and killed almost 1 million.

At this critical time, “this is the unprecedented opportunity to build back better and fairer. For Africa, the path we must take is clear. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a template for global cooperation and partnership,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said via a UN videoconference on Thursday.

“Our experience with COVID-19 has really demonstrated what can be achieved if we act and work together to address global challenges,” said Ramaphosa, also the chairperson of the African Union.

In its position paper on the 75th anniversary of the UN, China reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding the UN-centered global governance system, the basic norms of international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the authority and stature of the UN, and the central role of the UN in international affairs.

Bertrand Badie, a veteran specialist on international relations at France’s Sciences Po university, said in face of unilateralism and hegemonism, all countries should be committed to multilateralism by upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the international system with the UN at the core.

He called for abandoning the Cold War mentality and hegemonism and building a international relationship that is more fair and equal.

“Although the UN needs to be strengthened and reformed, it plays an irreplaceable role in such fields as promoting security, economic cooperation, and public health cooperation,” said Liu Di, professor with the Faculty of Social Sciences of Kyorin University in Tokyo.

Cavince Adhere, an international relations researcher based in Nairobi, said the world is facing challenges across borders, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, underlining that all countries should strengthen solidarity to coordinate their efforts instead of pursuing unilateral moves.

Ignacio Martinez Cortes, professor of political science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the world needs China’s experience to help other countries emerge from the current public health crisis and needs China to promote multilateralism within UN frameworks, which illustrates the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

“In this 75th anniversary year, we face our own 1945 moment,” Guterres said, stressing that “we must show unity like never before to overcome today’s emergency, get the world moving and working and prospering again, and uphold the vision of the Charter.”