On the heels of the 1930s Great Depression and in the midst of global turmoil — World War II — leaders from the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom gathered in 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., to consider a new postwar international architecture to succeed the failed League of Nations. The next year, a gathering of delegates from 50 nations convened in San Francisco to negotiate over two months and then sign, on June 26, the Charter of the United Nations.
This September, world leaders will mark the UN’s 75th anniversary. On this occasion, they will endorse, through the adoption of a declaration, a renewed vision for collective global action and a set of commitments to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, extreme poverty, armed conflict, disarmament, disruptive technologies and other global challenges.
Similar to Dumbarton Oaks, can the UN-75 commemoration catalyze a wider global conversation toward a new San Francisco moment that creates a more dynamic global governance system?
Signifying their intent that the 75th anniversary should be more than a diplomatic birthday party, the UN’s 193 member states began work earlier this year on the UN-75 Declaration, with Qatar’s permanent representative, Alya Al-Thani, and Sweden’s permanent representative, Anna Karin Enestrom, facilitating the effort. The ensuing negotiations to develop a “concise, substantive, forward-looking and unifying declaration” progressed. Yet it also revealed fault lines between great powers and among major groupings of countries.
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