This article is based on one originally published by EN24.news on 24 April 2020.
During a tele-conversation called “Multilateralism in the Time of COVID-19” organised by the UN Office in Geneva as part of UN75, students told the heads of key international organizations they wanted to bring together the world’s youth at the UN in Geneva during April 2021 to tackle the post-pandemic. A video of the first part of the conversation is available here.
The students called for more diversified multilateralism and announced that a post-Covid Youth Charter would be drawn up.
This idea was supported by the envoy of the UN Secretary General for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Fabrizio Hochschild. “If we want to renew multilateralism, we must move towards a much more diversified multilateralism. Especially with young people,” he said.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) wanted discussions in each country between different organizations, parliamentarians and other actors. According to him, young people, women and vulnerable people must be more involved in international discussions.
Most participants noted that the pandemic made multilateralism more essential than ever. Mentioning “an unprecedented crisis”, the head of the UN in Geneva Tatiana Valovaya says that the international community was at a “crucial moment”. Among the three possible scenarios, she says that planning after this pandemic is inevitable and she fears the closing of borders, a nationalist and xenophobic withdrawal.
But she considers possible “more multilateralism and solidarity”. An interim report on consultations launched by the UN with citizens around the world, released a few days ago, shows that more than 90% defend the importance of international collaboration.
For his part, the Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder called to fight against those who claim that multilateralism limits the room for maneuver of States. Without the World Health Organization (WHO), the response to this pandemic would be impossible, he said.
Popular as actors or singers
Several speakers called for combating the approximations relayed in this crisis, especially on social networks. One needs a regulation, insisted one of them.
The pandemic has also shown the importance of new technologies. With the movement restrictions that expose certain less connected parts of society, this question arises “even in Switzerland”, noted the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Houlin Zhao.
Ryder also wanted support for caregivers and other front-line workers, often poorly paid, to continue after the crisis. A call also relayed to the scientists by the director of CERN who added that they are currently “more popular than actors or singers”. Many speakers also noted the importance of providing an economical response.