CIVICUS: UN must prove its relevance at this year’s General Assembly

JOHANNESBURG/NEW YORK - As world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this September, global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on UN leadership to use this year’s summit to prove its value to solve the world’s compounding crises.

“The UN’s own relevance is at stake at this year’s General Assembly, with leaders of four out of five permanent members of the Security Council not attending this year’s meetings,” said Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS representative to the UN. “The globe faces an acute crisis of leadership. The post-Second World War consensus to seek solutions to global challenges through the UN is at a breaking point.”

Millions of people suffer from conflict in Ukraine, Sudan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Sahel region, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. Meanwhile, authoritarian leaders have seized or maintained power through a combination of political populism, outright repression and military coups. Our findings on the CIVICUS Monitor show 85% of people live in places experiencing serious attacks on basic freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

“It is the UN’s job to halt the severe backsliding on peace and rights–it cannot be outsourced or ignored,” said Tiwana. “UN leaders, including Secretary General Antonio Guterres, must urgently and directly call out governments causing immense suffering around the globe.”

CIVICUS likewise urges the UN to play a leading role in economic decision-making to combat rising inequality. Economic disparities not only make life harder for the world’s most vulnerable people, but drive further unrest.

“Despite eye-watering inequality within and between countries, big economic decisions affecting all countries are not made collectively at the UN,” said Tiwana. “The challenge before UN leaders this September is to bring harmony to decisions made by the G20, OECD, BRICS and others so they serve the best interests of excluded people around the globe.”

The concurrent Sustainable Development Goals Summit on September 18-19 offers hope. Called the greatest ever human effort to create peaceful, just, equal and sustainable societies, the SDGs are woefully behind schedule. UN leaders should forge effective partnerships with civil society to get the SDGs back on track.

“The formation of the UN as the conscience of the world in 1945 was an exercise in optimism and altruism,” Tiwana said. “This September that spirit will be needed more than ever to prove the UN’s value to start creating a better world for all.” 

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CIVICUS is the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. A worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. We were established in 1993 and since 2002 have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. We are a membership alliance with more than 9,000 members in more than 175 countries.



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