This article was first published on the UNA-UK website on 14 May 2020.
The Together First campaign has launched its “to do list” for global leaders in their latest report “Stepping stones for a better future”. The report presents 10 ideas for world leaders who are serious about building a safer, fairer, and more equal world.
The UN Secretary-General has called on leaders to build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic. As governments lay the foundations for recovery, it is vital that they look beyond the immediate horizon to the future.
The decisions we take now will cast long shadows. The climate emergency has not disappeared. It will not wait for us. Neither can we ignore the trends that have sharpened as a result of the pandemic, from entrenched inequalities to rising geopolitical tensions and new technologies. Moreover, we cannot afford to let our international system wither on the vine. We must take bold measures to ensure it becomes more open, inclusive, fair and effective.
In this report, Together First presents 10 such measures. The proposals listed have been selected following extensive consultations with policy-makers, practitioners and experts, as those most likely to be at a tipping point, when a concerted campaign could lead to implementation in the foreseeable future.
- A high-level champion for civil society
- A UN youth council
- Merit based appointments
- Accountability for state violations of planetary boundaries
- A Security Council that acts or gets out of the way
- A stronger Peacebuilding Commission
- People-centred peacekeeping
- An integrated approach to climate and security
- A ban on killer robots
- A ban on nuclear weapons
Together First was founded in 2018 to create a “to-do” list for the international community, comprising concrete, feasible steps to mitigate global catastrophic risks and put us on a pathway to the broader global governance revolution we need.
The 10 proposals are drawn from a larger pool featured on Together First’s ideas hub. They have been selected following extensive consultations with policy-makers, practitioners and experts, as those most likely to be at a tipping point, when a concerted campaign could lead to implementation in the foreseeable future.
All the ideas are anchored in a simple theory of change:
- Citizen engagement. It has been pointed out that the United Nations Charter starts with the words “we the peoples” but then the peoples are scarcely heard from again. If we are to restore trust and confidence in our institutions, we must find ways to strengthen participation – in particular of young people and civil society.
- Leadership and accountability. No amount of reform can make up for good leadership. It is vital that we take steps to ensure leaders are appointed on merit. Similarly, we must take steps to promote greater transparency and accountability, otherwise greater openness will only lead to further disillusionment.
- Peace and security. This goes to the heart of our international system, founded on the promise to protect future generations from the scourge of war. It is in this area where failures are most tragic and visible. We must find creative ways forward, even as traditional reform processes appeared to be stalled.
- Stronger mechanisms to tackle existential risks. We champion two arms control treaties that are important aims in themselves, as well as potential models for managing other risks.
Taking the 10 steps outlined in the report would transform the way our global system relates to the public and manages risk. It would make international institutions stronger and more accountable. However, as we know all too well, it is not for a lack of ideas that reforms do not happen – but a lack of political will. Join the campaign to ensure action is taken to create the UN we need, and the world we want.
The UN75 People’s Forum – part of the global conversation on how to better to address these shared challenges – will be held online on May 14 and 15 2020, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm BST.
Read the summary version of the report
Read the full report
Photo: Palestinian children fly kites resembling Japanese and Palestinian flags during an event marking the anniversary of Japan’s earthquake, organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), at Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. © UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan