Calls for reforming the United Nations began almost immediately after the inception of the global institution.
And although a more recent round of reform proposals was unleashed by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report “In Larger Freedom”, the ensuing UN reform summit in 2005 had few tangible outcomes. Today the UN is still in many aspects a reflection of the world order after World War II. Given the tectonic shifts in global affairs that continue to gain momentum, an overhaul of many of the UN’s principal institutions and working methods seem more urgent than ever. Only a reformed, revitalized United Nations that seems capable of addressing the global challenges that humanity faces will be able to retain its pre-eminent position in international affairs and in global governance.
Towards this end, FES New York has been engaged in a number of activities that address the overhaul of the various aspects of the functioning of the UN, such as: Reform of main bodies of the UN, e.g. ECOSOC and the Security Council; Management and finance of the UN Secretariat; System-Wide Coherence and the establishment of the UN’s new gender entity “UN Women”.
by Ken Conca, Joe Thwaites and Goueun Lee
The UN Security Council is increasingly under pressure to address climate change as a threat to international peace and security. Yet disagreements about the Council’s mandate as well as its current mode of operation render the body ill-suited for tackling climate change-related challenges. This publication discusses whether action on climate change could trigger transformation of the Council into an organ better suited for the world’s 21st century challenges in general. Reform proposals include forward-looking initiatives supported by affected states, as well as coordinated symbolic gestures from the Permanent Five Security Council Members.
Download the publication here.
Published and co-compiled by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York, the United Nations Association-UK, CIVICUS and Avaa
This new publication is a co-production of FES New York and three other founding organizations of the campaign ‘1 for 7 billion’ committed to a democratic and transparent election of the Secretary-General.
This new publication features practical recommendations on how the new Secretary General and the UN can improve multilateralism between governments and also with community leaders, civil society organizations and activists. At the heart of all these recommendations, is a common message for António Guterres to build a more inclusive UN. The authors – ranging from youth activists, NGO directors and policy experts – call on the new Secretary-General to broaden and foster relationships with civil society on a wide spectrum of common interests.
June 15, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Church Center of the United Nations, New York
While efforts to reform the UN Security Council are as old as the UN itself, today’s political challenges seem particularly insurmountable to change this most powerful UN body to be prepared for future tasks. On June 15, FES New York co-hosted a conference with UN diplomats and international experts to discuss the options and obstacles for reform within different time frames. The first segment discussed the possibilities of reforming the working methods of the Security Council by 2020. The second segment was dedicated to different long-term visions for an extended, restructured Security Council in 2050.
Compliance and Capacity Skills International (CCSI) and FES New York have completed a multi-language web platform. It offers pragmatic information and guidelines in all six official UN languages for the implementation of non-proliferation regimes against Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) currently applied by the United Nations to North Korea (DPRK) and Iran. Special consideration is given to the information requirements of those with responsibilities to implement sanctions for governments, international organizations and corporations, particularly in connection with the additional challenges posed by the incremental unwinding of the Iran sanctions.
For more info, please visit: http://www.wmd-sanctions.info
March 30, 2016
United Nations Conference Building, New York
As a new UN Secretary-General has to be selected this year, for the first time in history, the General Assembly (GA) will hold hearings with candidates. To discuss these and other changes in the appointment process, FES New York co-organized a debate with UN Member States and experts from academia and civil society. Among the panelists was the President of the GA Morgens Lykketoft (picture on the right).
March 10, 2016
The Church Center for the United Nations, New York
In December 2014, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung launched a Global Reflection Group on “A monopoly for the use of force 2.0? Is there a need for new peace and security rules in the 21st century?” Before drafting its final report, the Global Reflection Group shared its preliminary findings during two sessions with UN diplomats and Secretariat officials, as well as experts from Think Tanks, Academia, and NGOs.
February 1-2, 2016
United Nations Headquarters, New York
On the occasion of the 54th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD), FES New York co-organized a two-day forum for civil society representatives that aimed to prepare civil society participants to meaningfully engage with the Commission through a better understanding of its work regarding the 2030 Agenda. The Civil Society Forum’s topic this year centered on inequalities and the 2030 Agenda and contributed to the main theme of the CSocD54: “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”.
The Civil Society Forum brought together a diverse group of activists from around the world, as well as experts from academia and the United Nations System for a dynamic conversation about experiences, and a fruitful exchange of advice on ways forward. Among many others, speakers included Michael Cichon, Professor of Social Protection at the United Nations University (UNU MERIT); Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor at the New School; Maryann Broxton, Activist with International Movement ATD Fourth World, and Beulah Walker, Activist with the Detroit Water Brigade.
September 28, 2015
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, New York Office was a co-sponsor of this high-level conference. The conference coincided with the first day of the UN General Assembly’s General Discussion and dealt with a specific package of reforms to overcome the crisis of global governance. The package is based on the Report of the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, published in June 2015.
Publication: “Ban Ki-Moon Successor – A Democratic UN Starts With a Democratic Election of its Leader”intern1 : June 24, 2015 4:36 pm : Publications on Reforming the United Nations, Reforming the United Nations
FES Perspective, June 2015
Historically, the selection of the UN Secretary-General (SG) has been dominated by the Permanent Five Members of the Security Council using their veto power to determine a lowest common denominator compromise candidate. This publication explains how the search for Ban Ki-moon’s successor has become a global call for a substantial overhaul of this outdated and undemocratic process. The author discusses reform propositions and explains why UN Member States should throw their weight behind this movement for democratizing the UN: First, a successful overhaul of the SG selection process would benefit their reputation as constructive UN actors. And second, it would increase credibility and effectiveness of the global organization.
New York City
May 31 – June 2, 2015
In September 2015 world leaders gather at UN Headquarters in New York to celebrate the institution’s 70th Anniversary, marking the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inaugurating a new standard in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The politics of development have never been immune from accusations of imperialism. Organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations are all Western creations that strive to standardize world politics and markets by helping countries conform to international standards. However, the policies and programs of these international institutions often fail due to insufficient understanding of the cultures of the peoples they claim to serve. Conflicts which are presented as political or economic are often manifestations of deeply embedded cultural and religious factors.
Day 1 featured:
Jan Eliasson UN Deputy Secretary General gives the opening address; Yves Coppens (“Progress in 3 Million Years of Human History”) Agnes Heller (“Progress and Human Rights”), Marc Augé (“The Ambivalence of Progress”), Klaus Töpfer (“The Ambivalence of Progress”), Avital Ronell (“The Notion of Progress and Women”), Ervin László (“A Science-based Notion”), Michael Sandel (“The Limits of Homo Oeconomicus”).
Day 2 featured:
Wole Soyinka (“Development and Progress as a Political Reality in Africa”), John Mbiti (“Progress in the Cosmological and Religious Traditions of Africa”), Vladimir Kantor (“The History of Ideas: A Russian Perspective”), Karan Singh (“Progress and Development in India”), Ashis Nandy (“Two Hundred Years of Silence”), Tu Weiming (“Progress in Chinese Civilization”), Urs Schoettli (“Japan, China and India in Cross-Cultural Perspective with Western Traditions”).
Read about the conference on Twitter @fesnewyork or FES New York Facebook page.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
United Nations Headquarters, Delegates Dining Room 5
Whereas the 70th anniversary year of the United Nations provides an opportunity to take stock of the functioning of the various UN bodies, the negotiations on Security Council reforms remain mostly stagnant. Against this backdrop, on April 29, FES New York hosted a discussion on different initiatives aiming to introduce changes to the working methods of the Council with the objective of contributing to the renewed momentum of the intergovernmental negotiations process on Security Council reform. Representatives from Permanent Missions to the United Nations and experts from civil society exchanged views on the Council’s extension, but also on procedural reforms, such as the propositions to voluntary curb the Permanent Members’ (P5) veto power in cases of mass atrocities. Ample room was also given to the role of the P5 in the selection of the next UN Secretary-General and to the 1for7billion campaign, and other initiatives that promote a transparent and democratic selection process.
Past Event: “Transparency in International Arms Transfers: Has the Arms Trade Treaty Killed off the UN Register of Conventional Arms?”intern1 : October 22, 2013 2:08 pm : Events 2013, Global Security Governance, Reforming the United Nations, Uncategorized
Monday, October 28, 2013
German House, 871 UN Plaza
One of the stated purposes of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is to promote cooperation, transparency and responsible action in the international trade in conventional arms. At the same time, the already existing mechanism for transparency in international transfers of conventional arms, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (the Register) has reached a low point: Submission by UN Member States dropped to its lowest ever level in 2012. Some of the group’s participant were presenting their views on the future of the Register and the impact of the adaption of the ATT during this event, which was of particular interest for international organizations, the diplomatic community and civil society organizations.
FES Perspective, August 2013
In May 2013, some 20 UN member states launched a new initiative to improve the working methods of the UN Security Council. Dubbed “ACT”, the initiative aims for greater accountability, coherence, and transparency in the Council’s activities. This publication gauges this effort against the backdrop of previous stalled attempts to reform either working methods or the composition of the Council. It concludes that ACT’s modest and seemingly technical proposals cut to the highly-political core issues of who controls representation of member states interests and who controls the reform agenda at the UN.
Past Event: “Learning From Experience: Building the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda with People Living in Extreme PovertySaraB : July 1, 2013 11:05 am : Events, Events 2013, Global Economic Governance, Reforming the United Nations
Thursday June 27, 2013
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
UNHQ, Conference Room 1 (Conference Building)
This panel discussion presented proposals for the sustainable development agenda based on a year-long participatory research project carried out with people living in extreme poverty. Research participants from communities in Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Guatemala, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Philippines, and Peru participated in order to evaluate the Millennium Development Goals, but in order to contribute to the current debate on global goals for sustainable development, families living in extreme poverty in Belgium, France and Poland contributed an assessment of anti-poverty strategies in their countries as well. The 5 recommendations of the study are 1) leave no one behind; 2) people living in poverty should not be “consulted” but should be partners in development; 3) promote decent jobs and social protection floors to meet the essential needs of everyone; 4) achieve education and training for all based on cooperation among all stakeholders; and 5) promote participatory good governance. The research was conducted by the International Movement ATD Fourth World. This panel discussion was organized by them in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, International Trade Union Confederation, Social Watch, the Governments of France, Peru and the Philippines, la Francophonie, Participate and UN-NGLS.
On 8 May FES New York organized an informal roundtable in which Ambassadors could engage in informal and candid dialogue to enhance political understanding of the ECOSOC reform and High Level Political Forum processes and their impact on the development agenda of the UN. Discussions concentrated on 1) inter-linkages between the two processes; 2) mechanisms to review national implementation, 3) the role of IMF and World Bank in a reformed institutional framework for sustainable development, and 4) mechanisms for participation of Major Groups and other non-state actors in sustainable development. The meeting was hosted by the German Mission, co-sponsored by the Missions of Mexico and Denmark and Stakeholder Forum, supported by UN-DESA, and organized in consultation with the co-facilitators of the two processes. More than 75 Ambassadors, members of delegations, representatives of the UN , IMF and World Bank Secretariats and institutional organizers attended the round table. The meeting was held under Chatham House Rule.
“The UN and the BWIs: How to promote policy coherence and coordination for sustainable development, a “think piece” backgrounder produced by FES New York for the 8 May Meeting
February 28, 2013
After the UN General Assembly adopted in December 2012 Resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of UN operational activities for development, on February 28, 2013, FES New York hosted a workshop for key participants in the 2012 QCPR process. The meeting, which was opened by Wu Hongbo, Under Secretary-General, UNDESA (pictured right) helped to formulate lessons learned that should also inform the planning and organization of other major intergovernmental processes in the future.
Retreat at Tarrytown, New York
This retreat was the third event sponsored by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (picture), the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, and FES New York to prepare UN Member States for the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) on UN operational activities for development. The retreat provided an opportunity for Permanent Representatives and other senior officials from Member States and UN entities to exchange in-depth substantive analysis on how to adapt UN operational activities for development to the evolving global context. It was intended that these discussions in an informal setting will contribute significantly to the debates and negotiations of the General Assembly later this year on the 2012-2016 QCPR resolution.
Past Event: “Dialogue on UN operational Activities for Development: Funding of UN operational Activities for Development”intern1 : March 26, 2012 4:18 pm : Events 2012, Reforming the United Nations, Uncategorized
29 March, 2012, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations, 325 East 38th St., New York
In the fall of 2012 the UN General Assembly conducts the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of UN operational activities for development. Its outcome shapes the orientation and functioning of the UN development system for the next four years until 2016. To help UN Member States and UN entities with the preparations for this policy review, FES New York, together with the Office of the President of the General Assembly and UN DESA have jointly organized a series of discussion events. The second debate on March 29, with the participation of the President of the General Assembly H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser and UN Women Executive Director Ms. Michelle Bachelet, focused on the funding of UN operational activities for development.
Past Event: “Dialogue on UN operational Activities for Development: Emerging Issues in UN Development Operations”intern1 : March 9, 2012 1:47 pm : Events 2012, Reforming the United Nations, Uncategorized
13 February, 2012, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 21st Floor, New York
In the fall of 2012 the UN General Assembly conducts the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of UN operational activities for development. Its outcome shapes the orientation and functioning of the UN development system for the next four years until 2016. To help UN Member States and UN entities with the preparations for this policy review, FES New York, together with the Office of the President of the General Assembly and UN DESA have jointly organized a series of discussion events. The first debate on February 13, with the participation of the President of the General Assembly H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser and UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark (see picture), focused on the challenges that arise from the changing global environment for the UN’s development work.