Preparation is underway for a world leaders’ summit in September 2020 to celebrate the UN’s 75th anniversary. The initiative offers a chance to take stock of how the UN needs to adapt to deal with pressing threats like climate change, weapons proliferation and cyber insecurity. It’s early days in the process, but unbelievably, there were no provisions for civil society involvement in the initial draft plans, circulated to member states at the UN at the end of April 2019.
Together First is fighting for inclusion, together with UN2020 – a joint civil society initiative working for a successful 75th anniversary summit. States should not have a monopoly on action to address global threats, indeed, they will not be effective if they do not work in partnership.
Throughout May, while work on the UN General Assembly resolution which lays out early plans for the summit continues, we are collecting civil society endorsements of an open letter to the co-facilitators of the process – Iceland and Singapore – calling for civil society to be included in a meaningful way.
We currently have over 150 organisations and movements from all over the world signed up. A copy of the letter has been reproduced below.
Will your organisation join us? Please email email@example.com to sign on.
Together First is a growing campaign to improve international cooperation by promoting fair, inclusive and open forms global governance – we are working hard to make sure civil society have a meaningful voice in this conversation.
We write to you in your capacity as co-facilitators on preparations for the UN’s 75 anniversary to express our deep concern that nascent plans for the commemorative plenary are not suitably inclusive of civil society.
The anniversary presents a vital opportunity to consider how the Organization must adapt to cope with the global threats facing humanity. As the President of the General Assembly said recently: “it is a chance to make the UN more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more relevant to ‘we the peoples.’”
We are, therefore, alarmed to learn that the zero draft resolution for the commemoration does not envision a meaningful role for civil society. It appears to exclude civil society from the intergovernmental preparatory work, from consultations on any outcomes that may be adopted – and even from the commemorative event itself. This would represent a missed opportunity to ensure the inclusion of a diversity of voices, especially those of the most marginalized, through civil society participation.
Global civil society has been a committed and determined ally of the UN since its inception in 1945 – when delegations worked together with NGO representatives on the text of the Charter. Today, that partnership is even more important – as civil society supports delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, and plays a key role in policy formulation, innovation and communication of progress to the broader public.
Encouraged by your stated “deep commitment to an open, transparent and inclusive process” – that reinforces the President of the General Assembly’s emphasis on “making the UN relevant to all people” – we call on you to champion the voices of “we the peoples”, and to ensure that meaningful participation from civil society is included at every step of the way towards the 75th anniversary of the UN.
In this vein, we ask that you consider engaging civil society in the process you are leading, for example, through an informal hearing with civil society, by inviting civil society representatives to present at the next suitable meeting, or by organizing a civil society briefing.
We thank you for your efforts to date, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the 75th anniversary is a meaningful event with lasting impact.