Stronger Nordic cooperation in a stronger UN

Joint chronicle by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (Denmark), Prime Minister Sanna Marin (Finland), Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Norway), Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Sweden) and Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdóttir (Iceland).

This year’s General Assembly marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Never has there been a greater need for multilateral cooperation to ensure a sustainable and fair future for everyone.

The growing polarisation within and between countries is deeply worrying. It is becoming increasingly clear that progressive countries must step forward and take greater responsibility for protecting the multilateral system. The Nordic countries are seeking to work together more closely within the UN and we are committed to shouldering our responsibility with the EU and other like-minded stakeholders around the world.

Seventy-five years ago, in the wake of two devastating world wars, the nations of the world agreed to cooperate and resolve conflicts within a rules-based global order. The UN has gradually developed into an organisation that addresses a wide range of global issues, including poverty reduction, sustainable development, human rights, equality, trade, climate change and the environment – based on a common belief that the major challenges of our time can only be dealt with through international cooperation.

While there are many positive achievements to look back on over the last 75 years, we would like to take this opportunity to look to the future. The Nordic countries want to see a stronger UN and we stand together in supporting international cooperation.

During the UN high-level meeting tomorrow, all 193 Member States will adopt a joint declaration. The declaration promotes a more agile, accountable and effective United Nations. The Nordic countries fully support the declaration and we will further strengthen our engagement to ensure its implementation in the following areas:

A stronger and reformed UN
The UN needs to be better equipped to hold countries that violate international law accountable. The UN has shown leadership in the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the crisis has highlighted the need for a stronger multilateral system that will be better able to meet the needs of tomorrow. We support Secretary-General Guterres’ ambitions to make the UN more efficient. Our collective security depends upon all countries doing their part to safeguard the rules-based world order and participating proactively in multilateral cooperation.

Support to the UN to address the ongoing pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that we must take care of each other if we are to get through this. We have a joint responsibility to strengthen global health systems, contribute to global health security and promote healthier societies. We fully support the efforts of the UN, the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to ensure fair global access to a COVID-19 vaccine. Universal values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality form the heart of Nordic thinking, and these should be an integral part of the effort to fight COVID-19 and realise the 2030 Agenda.

A sustainable recovery
The global recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic must be used to build back better, stronger and greener. We strongly support better implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. We are determined to work for a green and sustainable transition in our own Nordic region and globally, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. We need to equip the population with the right skills to meet the demands of a new labour market.

A fair and inclusive recovery
Efforts to promote a more gender-equal and equitable world must also be intensified. The UN needs more measures to counter systematic inequalities that divide our societies. The approach to sustainable socio-economic recovery must be guided by fairness and inclusiveness, leaving no one behind. We are stepping up our work to safeguard human rights, including women’s rights, not least with regard to sexual and reproductive health. Promoting the economic empowerment of women must be at the core of the strategy to restart economic growth and job creation.

Strengthening common security
The UN has played a central role in enhancing our common security through activities such as preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping operations over the past 75 years. With Norway on the Security Council in 2021–2022, the Nordic countries can once again help promote a more effective and transparent Security Council. The Nordic countries share a long tradition of conflict resolution and conflict prevention. We will continue to push for implementation of the agenda for women, peace and security, which was adopted 20 years ago. In light of our strong focus on humanitarian action, we will also continue our efforts to ensure that those in distress receive the urgent help they need.

Seventy-five years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and 50 years after the entry into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the importance of nuclear disarmament to our common security remains as relevant as ever. The global arms control architecture is under pressure, with countries in breach of previous agreements and expanding their nuclear arsenals. Solutions must be based on multilateral cooperation, with the NPT as the cornerstone for efforts on nuclear disarmament. 

The current pandemic has made it obvious that greater cooperation is called for. We have the chance to choose a path that capitalises on the current opportunities to rebuild our societies to provide a gender-equal, equitable, peaceful, climate-friendly and sustainable future for coming generations. This is the path the Nordic countries wish to pursue. Strengthening the UN and international cooperation is crucial for our collective security and safety, our prosperity and our common interests. Current and future generations should expect nothing less. 

Let us reaffirm our commitment to the core values on which the UN was founded and help build a safer and better future for the generations to come, one that brings prosperity for all. We are stronger together.