We need to include civil society — a global issue
  • opinion Written by Mandeep S. Tiwana (new york)
  • interpress service

The problem is that outside of UN officials, too few people and civil society organizations even know that the summit is happening. This is characterized by a lack of widespread consultation. Things did not start well last December, with limited time and opportunity for civil society to provide input. zero draft of agreement for the futurewhich should serve as a blueprint for international cooperation in the 21st century.

The Zero Draft, released in January 2024, lacks the ambition many expected to tackle the huge challenges ahead. It contained his only mention of the role of civil society and nothing about it. civic spaceIncreasing restrictions on fundamental freedoms are preventing the transparency, accountability and participation needed to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious but largely unrealized universal commitment that the summit seeks to reaffirm. This is despite the fact that it is severely hampered.

To be clear, Germany and Namibia, the co-facilitators of the summit, are committed to meeting the demands of countries that want this process to be purely government-to-government and of other countries that see value in civil society involvement. We are in the unenviable position of having to strike a balance. Some people do not recognize the role of civil society. In February, several states, led by Belarus, sent a letter to the government. special committee On the United Nations Charter, which questions the legitimacy of civil society organizations. If their demands are accepted, the United Nations will miss out on the innovations that civil society participation can bring.

Next month, the United Nations will host a major meeting civil society council It was held in Nairobi with the aim of providing a platform for civil society to contribute ideas to the Future Summit. However, with only a month between the selection of applicants and the holding of the conference, it remains to be seen how many civil society representatives, particularly from smaller organizations in the Global South, will be able to participate.

There is still a need for the United Nations to address this issue Unmute civil society recommendations, this includes a call for the appointment of a civil society envoy. Such envoys have the potential to advance civil society efforts beyond the UN base. The special envoy could advocate for better and more consistent participation of people and civil society across the UN’s sprawling agencies and offices, as the body feels distant to many. So far, civil society engagement with the United Nations remains highly uneven and dependent on the culture and leadership of different UN departments and forums.

The summit can only benefit from civil society engagement to achieve its objectives, especially as many conflicts around the world intensify, including in Gaza, Myanmar, Sudan, Ukraine and others. Many civil society reform ideas are included in the UN Secretary-General’s policy. New challenges for peaceThe summit will discuss issues such as nuclear disarmament, strengthening preventive diplomacy, and prioritizing women’s participation in peace efforts.

There is also an urgent need to address the spiraling debt levels faced by many countries in the Global South, which is redirecting public spending away from essential services and social protection to debt servicing. Civil society supports initiatives such as: bridgetown initiative Obtain commitments from rich countries for debt restructuring and cancellation for countries facing repayment crises. However, civil society needs to be involved in the development of the plan. Financing for development The negotiations do not include guarantees of civic space or civil society participation, and there is no way to ensure that public funds benefit those in need. Rather, authoritarian regimes may use them to strengthen repressive state institutions and networks of corruption and patronage.

Civil society is also calling for reforms to the international financial architecture. These include bringing decisions by the G20 group of economic powers within the United Nations accountability framework, and equalizing the ownership and decision-making of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are currently controlled by a small number of highly developed countries. This includes requests such as distribution.

However, it is unclear how many of civil society’s innovative proposals for global governance reform will be reflected in the final outcome of the Future Summit. So far, there has been limited transparency regarding UN member states’ negotiations, records, and compilations, despite civil society demonstrating commitment by producing more than 400 documents. submission to agreement for the future process.

Troublingly, few governments have consulted nationally with civil society groups on their positions on Future Summit negotiations. If these trends continue, the international community will miss an important opportunity to improve the lives of future generations. It is not too late to fully involve people and civil society in this process. The purpose of the summit is very important.

Mandeep S. Tiwana He is CIVICUS’ chief evidence and engagement officer and representative to the United Nations in New York.


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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedSource: Interpress Service

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