By Jeffery Huffines
Co-moderators Margo LaZaro, President/Chair of NGOCSD-NY & Jeffery Huffines, Senior Advisor for UN2020 & Together First, welcomed and introduced the UN75 co-facilitators Ambassador Alya Al-Thani of Qatar and Ambassador Anna-Karin Eneström of Sweden who offered a briefing on the outcome of the first information consultation with member states that took place the week before on 21 February. In advance of the meeting, participants had received copies of the co-facilitators’ Food for Thought paper and a statement from Ambassador Skoog of the EU Delegation.
Following opening remarks, the co-facilitators responded to several rounds of comments from civil society participants. Some 40 NGO representatives attended the meeting in person with over 70 NGOs participating online by Zoom call.
The co-facilitators characterized the meeting as a very productive start of the process and emphasized that they want to make sure that they hear from all stakeholders, including civil society, youth and women. They were joined by the PGA who gave his guidance and support.
Delegations emphasized that they support a short, concise, unified, forward-looking, yet substantive political declaration. The co-facilitators will therefore need to strike a balance between the text being substantive yet short, concise and readable.
There was much support about what the UN has achieved and a convergence on key issues of what Member States would like to see addressed. There were calls for reforms of not only the UN Security Council but also the revitalization of the General Assembly and ECOSOC. Climate change and biodiversity is high on the agenda. The importance of partnerships was emphasized, as was the role of the private sector. Member states don’t want to see just reaffirmations, but something action oriented.
Given the structural issues that need to be addressed to strengthen and improve the UN, the co-facilitators were advised that member states should endorse a continued dialogue after the 75th anniversary to be led by the member states, the SG or an independent commission. The SG has said that he wants to see the dialogue to continue beyond the 75th anniversary. He has highlighted the threats and challenges ahead of us and the need for the UN to address difficult issues.
The co-facilitators were urged to include the perspectives of those from the grassroots who are not able to come to the UN, to find ways for the participation of civil society that is not only ceremonial but lead to meaningful action and policy. Other issues important to civil society that were brought up included climate change, species loss, shrinking of space for civil society, and peace and disarmament. There are issues of political, social and environmental insecurity that leads to intra-state and inter-state violence.
The co-facilitators agreed that we must work on not only security issues, but root causes that emphasize the importance of prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflict as mandated in Chapter 6. Corruption is also an important part of Agenda 2030 that integrates the three pillars of the UN.
A participant emphasized that that the declarations of both the UN75 and Beijing+25 high-level meetings should support and reinforce each other. Another participant pointed out that the upcoming CSW will be an important occasion to receive the inputs from civil society. Both co-facilitators said they that will be very involved with Beijing+25 and assured that the declaration will highlight the important role of women.
The co-facilitators emphasized that the outcomes of the Youth Plenary & ECOSOC Youth Forum at the end of March and the UN75 People’s Forum in mid-April will be very important. NGOs are encouraged to share their thoughts and written inputs with the co-facilitators at any stage. They would like to know how civil society is organizing itself for its own draft declaration. The co-facilitators urged NGOs to reach out to member states and political groups to ensure the adoption of a strong political declaration.
The next formal UN75 meeting will take place early April when an elements paper will be presented followed by a zero draft in May. Until then, the co-facilitators will be in listening mode, meeting with different delegations, member states, political groups and other stakeholders. Next month the co-facilitators will come up with an outline. The “food for thought” paper may provide some thematic structure, but it is too early to say. For now the co-facilitators are more concerned about substance. The co-facilitators advised that their aim is to have a strong declaration that will be unifying for adoption by all member states.
Pyeongchang Peace Forum (9-11 Feb) Update
On 9-11 February 2020, more than 1000 participants from some 40 countries gathered for the PyeongChang Peace Forum (PPF). This Forum followed the successful inaugural PyeongChang Global Peace Forum in 2019 that commemorated the first anniversary of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. As a global platform, PPF connected the Korean peace process to the global agenda and its commitment to sustaining the peace, justice and development goals as articulated in Agenda 2030.
The PPF 2020 included the Global Dialogue on UN75 with Fabrizio Hochschild as well as strategy sessions led by the participating civil society networks that included UN2020, Stand Together Now Campaign (GCAP/A4SD), Global Policy Watch and Peace & PNND Network, organized by Anselmo Lee, Adviser to PPF and KOICA. Civil society participants were invited to contribute to the PyeongChang Message for Peace 2020 and the PyeongChang Agenda for Peace (PCAP 2030) which is a framework and tool to link peace and disarmament to the SDGs. See: https://ppf.or.kr/en/ppf2020/ppf2020_about.asp.
UN75 People’s Forum (23-24 April) Update
The UN75 People’s Forum coincides with the commemoration of the International Day of Multilateralism taking place on 24 April. As lead sponsor, South Korea has agreed to assist in reserving a conference room inside the UN and inviting the participation of the PGA & SG. However should large international events be canceled at the UN during the month of April. A concept note was circulated to participants that outlines three key thematic objectives and draft program scenario for 23 & 24 April.
Together First Update
The Together First “ideas portal” campaign hub will be published on their website next week. The portal will feature a repository of UN reform proposals submitted by individuals and organizations from around the world that you may endorse and explore by category or risk and timeframe of implementation. Based on the ideas portal, TF will be sounding out ideas with member states and working with advisors and focus groups to come up with a “Top Ten List” which takes into account both the impact and viability of each idea. TF is also working in cooperation with UN2020 to host online the UN75 civil society declaration. Everyone is invited to sign up for TF at Together1st.org.
UN2020 Civil Society Declaration Call for Inputs
UN2020 has appointed Daniel Perell of Baha’i International Community to coordinate the drafting of the civil society declaration to be adopted at the UN75 People’s Forum (23-24 April). UN2020 has issued the declaration timeline and feedback form for inputs that includes a copy of the preliminary zero draft. The purpose of the civil society declaration is to influence the negotiations of the UN75 political declaration by member states to be completed by June. The initial draft will be based upon inputs received from recent civil society outcome documents including the PyeongChang Peace Forum, ConGO declaration, and Together First online consultations. Everyone is encouraged to submit their inputs as soon as possible as recommendations will be incorporated on a rolling basis. The declaration must be a call for the start of a process, recognizing that just one year of deliberations is insufficient for the kinds of reforms needed.
Beijing+25 & CSW64 Updates
540 side events are scheduled to take place at CSW64. Because the UN will be closed by 6 pm, a lot of activities will be taking place in missions, so RSVP now. Everyone is invited to attend the NGO CSW64 Forum on 9-11 March at the Armenian Auditorium featuring 6 sessions, 26 tables, 8 at each table, to discuss action coalitions coming out of Beijing+25. The Beijing+25 Generation Equality Forums will take pace in Mexico (7-8 May) and Paris (7-10 July) leading to the Beijing+25 GA high-level meeting in New York on 23 September.
N.B. Following the recommendation made by the SG on the coronavirus, with the exception of a one-day procedural meeting on 9 March where the CSW64 political declaration and draft resolutions will be adopted, the remainder of the CSW64 program has been postponed until further notice.
UN75 San Francisco Global Forum (25 & 26 June) Update
The SF Global Forum will showcase innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships among civil society, the private sector, philanthropists, governments and the UN system to complement the intergovernmental UN 75 Declaration. These parallel commitments will be presented at the September 2020 UN 75 Leaders’ Summit.
More than 200 stakeholders from civil society, scholars, policy entrepreneurs, UN system bodies and Member States, the private sector, and philanthropic institutions will be invited to participate in plenary presentations and breakout groups across the forum’s 4 thematic pillars (peace & security, sustainable development, human rights & humanitarian action, climate governance) and 2 forum tracks (Partnerships & Innovations).
The Stimson Center is also organizing two regional dialogues: the Americas Dialogue (19-21 March) in Bogota, Colombia, and the Africa Dialogue (14-15 April) at the Savannah Center in Buja, Nigeria.
UN2020 Working Group Updates
- Fundraising: soliciting sufficient funds of the People’s Forum in April to bring colleagues from the global south & important civil society networks so the event is representative and inclusive.
- Events: Organizing program in cooperation with South Korea mission as lead sponsor. N.B. Because of precautions that are being taken to contain the coronavirus, the Events WG is looking into the possibility of hosting the event virtually.
- Advocacy: A call for inputs for the civil society declaration has been issued by UN2020. The first draft will be available through 15 March, with a second draft available 23 March – 5 April for further commentary. The Advocacy WG is engaged in a mapping exercise of member states and discussing advocacy strategies to influence the outcome of the UN75 negotiations.