A new agenda: the role of multilateralism in a complex and changing world.

Author:Khalaf, Rima
Position:The United Nations at 70

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations presents an opportunity to take stock, recognizing our successes and acknowledging our shortcomings.

The United Nations has indisputably made the world a better place over the past seven decades. We have succeeded in making the world recognize the wealth in its pluralism and diversity. For the first time in history, a consensus around human equality has been forged. No race or culture can claim to exclusively represent human civilization.

There are five core areas where the contribution of the United Nations can best be demonstrated.

Firstly, in universal values. The United Nations has succeeded in formulating and expounding universal statements of principles and values, as enshrined in its Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has also succeeded in translating these principles into globally agreed agendas and courses of action. Today, the United Nations protects and promotes human rights through dozens of treaties and declarations, duly ratified by States and widely embraced by individuals and civil society. (1)

The second crucial area is peace. The world has effectively been saved from the scourges of a global war. Since its founding, the United Nations has helped end conflicts and foster reconciliation in many countries. It has helped disarm more than 500,000 ex-combatants (2) in the past decade alone. Today, over 122,000 peacekeepers are present in 16 operations on 4 continents (3), sacrificing their lives to protect the lives and livelihoods of civilians and local communities.

The third is decolonization. The United Nations has successfully supervised the accession to independence of previously colonized countries, welcoming them into the global community as integral and sovereign States.

The fourth is the critical area of development. The United Nations has succeeded in promoting increasingly progressive and inclusive development policies through its various agencies, Regional Commissions, funds and programmes operating around the world. It has led the struggle against poverty and hunger, and helped to achieve increased literacy, better health and longer life expectancy. Working with Member States, the United Nations created and helped implement the pioneering Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were the first-of-its-kind global development agenda. Today the United Nations is fostering global agreement and support around new sustainable development goals (SDGs) that...

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