malbright2_Michael Sohn - PoolGetty Images_guterres Michael Sohn - PoolGetty Images

Our Common Agenda and the Road to 2023

In a new report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres argues that “humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: a breakdown or a breakthrough.” In the midst of two global crises and rising great-power tensions, how could a breakthrough be possible?

WASHINGTON, DC – Not since World War II has the international community confronted as monumental a test as the intertwined crises of COVID-19 and climate change, and the profound social and economic inequalities they have exposed. Yet precisely when global, collective action is most needed to address these crises, exclusionary nationalism and rising great-power tensions, including a new Cold War-like standoff between democracies and autocracies, are eroding essential multilateral cooperation.

In his pathbreaking new report, Our Common Agenda, UN Secretary-General António Guterres argues that “humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: a breakdown or a breakthrough.” Guterres underscores the fundamental values of trust and solidarity – and the need for a new social contract between citizens and their institutions at all levels of governance – in seeking a just and sustainable global recovery from the current pandemic. As we mark another UN Day (October 24), these values must inform a politically savvy yet ambitious strategy for long-overdue institutional and legal changes to the post-1945 multilateral system.

Shortly after UN member states gather, under the leadership of Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly, on October 25 in New York, they are expected to endorse a resolution to initiate follow-up action on many of Guterres’s proposals. Among his most timely ideas for building more inclusive and networked multilateralism are an updated Agenda for Peace, supported by a new Emergency Platform to respond to complex global crises; the appointment of a Special Envoy for Future Generations; and innovations involving digital transformation, data analytics, and strategic foresight.

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