The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference

The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference

From 26-28 August 2019, the Stimson Center’s Just Security 2020 (JS2020) program, UN 2020, Together First and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office participated in the 68th the United Nations Civil Society Conference (UNCSC), in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Centered around the theme “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities”, the conference enjoyed the participation of representatives of non-governmental and faith-based organizations, as well as educators, students and individual activists from Utah and around the world. Our primary objectives at the conference were to inform the participants about the importance of the United Nations 75th anniversary, to raise the profile of the UN 2020 InitiativeTogether First campaign, and Stimson’s Platform on Global Security, Justice, & Governance Innovation, and to present opportunities for the conference’s several thousands participants from around the world to engage in our policy advocacy and research promotion efforts. Our team had the opportunity to participate actively in several townhall-like sessions, provided inputs on the importance of “[email protected],” and shaped the Conference Outcome Statement and the Youth Climate Compact.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020 and highlight the imperative for UN Member States to recommit to the values of multilateralism enshrined in the UN Charter, the team organized a thematic session, entitled “Civil Society Partnerships for the UN We Need” and a workshop on “[email protected]: Citizen action on the road to 2020.” Both the thematic session and the workshop were attended by more than 275 people.

The thematic session featured Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Alison Smale, Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Chairperson of the 68th UN Civil Society Conference Maruxa Cardama, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator for the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network Uzma Gul, Coordinator of the UN2020 Campaign Fergus Watt, and Reporter at Capital City News (SLoCatv) Poonam Kumar.

The discussion focused on questions such as: what is multilateralism? Why do we need multilateralism? Where is the world headed without global cooperation? What future do we want to see for our children and our communities? Where is the world heading if current global trends continue unchecked? What action is needed at the international level to better steer the world toward the one we want?

In his remarks, Mr. Hochschild noted “as it stands, there’s a gaping chasm between our vision of the world we want as set out in the SDGs, and where we’re headed to if some of the current trends are not better attended to. It’s for that reason, because of the gap between aspirations and where current trends are taking us that the UN Secretary-General believes that UN75 is less a reason for celebration than for reflection and revitalization of international cooperation.” To this end, the [email protected] office will encourage meaningful conversations worldwide aimed at responding to the question of how we can revitalize international cooperation to better deliver on the future we all want and to better contain the emerging threats that we will face in the future.

Organized independently but as a continuation of the thematic session discussion, the workshop brought together a variety of civil society representatives and considered opportunities to grow a coalition of states and non-state actors interested in achieving critical global governance reforms by 2020 (the UN’s 75th anniversary), and beyond. It was proposed that UN 2020 and Together First should develop a year-long plan of civil society commemorative activities and dialogues in support of a strengthened and revitalized United Nations during the world body’s 75th anniversary. This may involve organizing one or more NGO Forums to feed into the drafting of the UN 75 Political Declaration to be finalized in June of 2020 (in advance of the September 2020 Leaders Summit in New York).