18 April 2019: The newly appointed Special Adviser on Preparations for the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary briefed Member States on the Secretary-General’s vision for the commemoration in 2020. The Special Adviser, Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond of Chile, will conduct a UN system-wide process of consultations on the role of the UN in advancing international cooperation and in supporting the ability of Member States to respond to emerging challenges and “frontier issues.”
The second informal open-ended meeting on the date and modalities for the commemoration of UN’s 75th anniversary took place on 15 April 2019, in New York, US. In February Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore, and Bergdis Ellertsdottir, Permanent Representative of Iceland were appointed as co-facilitators for intergovernmental consultations on the date and modalities for the commemoration. They convened the first informal meeting on 8 April.
Addressing Member States during the second meeting, Hochschild said the Secretary-General’s vision for the commemoration is focused on the UN’s achievements but above all on the future and the “100-year UN.” Youth across the world will be at the center of this reflection “in a meaningful way.” The impacts of climate change, technology disruption, demographic change and migratory trends also will be captured. The commemoration will present a juxtaposed vision of youth’s hope, and how the world will look at the UN’s 100th anniversary “if we don’t act now.”
Hochschild continued that the Secretary-General also sees the commemoration as highlighting the need to work across differences through the multilateral system, emphasizing that “multilateralism is about not only institutions but also about people.” The event also will reflect the fact that 2020 will mark ten years since the creation of UN Women and 20 years since the adoption of the UN Security Council’s landmark resolution 1325 on women. Hochschild added that the Secretary-General will seek the participation and financial support of Member States for this occasion, and the commemoration will require a partnership with all stakeholders and an ambitious communications and social media campaign.
Member States said the commemoration needs to be youth-focused and forward-looking.
Elaborating on the anticipated communications campaign, Maher Nasser, UN Department of Global Communications, said messages will focus on the UN’s achievements and vision of the future. The Department will leverage its partnerships with media, civil society, academia and creative groups. It also will work to mobilize UN agencies’ communications heads, as “this is not only an anniversary of the UN Secretariat, but of the entire UN system.” The Department plans to utilize its 59 information centers around the world and work with all 130 UN Resident Coordinators to ensure that whatever campaigns the department designs, they are global and applied everywhere.
Nasser added that the UN civil society conference that will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, US is an opportunity for civil society to discuss its participation in the 75th anniversary commemoration. In addition, the anniversary will be showcased through the UN’s pavilion at Expo 2020, which will open in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 24 October 2020.
UN Member States provided some feedback and thoughts on the briefings. Summarizing the exchange, co-facilitator Gafoor said Member States’ views reflect that the theme of the commemoration needs to be youth-focused and forward-looking. Gafoor said the commemoration of UN’s 75th anniversary will be marked by three clusters of activities:
- Activities that any government might want to organize in its country;
- Activities by the UN Secretariat and UN agencies; and
- Intergovernmental activities.
He explained that Member States will collectively decide on the intergovernmental activities. He said the intergovernmental process has the mandate to agree on the date and modalities for the commemoration, including the theme, format and outcome. If the UN membership decides to have an intergovernmentally agreed outcome, its substance will require a distinct process of negotiations. Garfoor announced that he and Ellertsdottir will work on a “sharp and focused” modalities resolution, to be shared with governments by 6 May 2019, when the next meeting is planned.
He suggested that the UN membership could ask the Secretary-General to provide a report with options for the commemoration, once the date is agreed. The report could include both the Secretary-General’s plans and options for the intergovernmental commemoration.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Hochschild as Special Adviser on 18 April 2019. Hochschild previously served as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, a role that will be filled by Volker Türk of Austria beginning in July 2019. [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]