The Launch of "UN70: A New Agenda" in Oslo

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende launched the Ministry’s "UN70: A new agenda" project at an open meeting on 17 February.

The objective of the project is to look at what the UN has achieved over its 70 years’ history, what global challenges it is facing today, and what Norway can do to make it more effective.

With a time frame up to autumn 2016, the project will consist of three main parts:

  1. Develop proposals, ideas and initiatives in cooperation with think tanks and like-minded countries, which will be presented to the next UN Secretary-General and the other UN member states.
  2. Promote the UN’s 70th anniversary in Norway
  3. Provide input for further developing Norway’s UN policy 

In his introduction, Mr Brende pointed out that strengthening the UN is the best investment in peace, security, development and human rights. He also underlined that it is the member states themselves that own the UN, and that every country has a responsibility for helping to reform the organisation. The fact that Norway has launched UN70: A new agenda shows that we are shouldering our share of this responsibility.

Around 110 people attended the launch. The many questions from the audience reflected a high level of knowledge about the UN. Several more open meetings will be held during the course of the project.

Among those who attended were Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bruce Jones from the Brookings Institution, and Sarah Cliffe from New York University.

Among the topics discussed were the kind of reforms needed, reform strategies, drivers of reform and obstacles, as well as how to set priorities. The following key points were made:

  • The UN has played and continues to play a key role in global governance. Most global challenges, and not least the most difficult of these, end up on the UN’s agenda.
  • The UN is in need of reform both as an intergovernmental arena and as an actor on the world stage. The UN needs to adapt to the challenges of today and to the present global balance of power.
  • Important focus areas include the role of the Secretary-General, the working methods of the UN Secretariat, and reform in the UN’s three pillars: peace and security, human rights, and development.
  • The member states have an important responsibility and role to play as drivers of the reform process. The way member states seek to micromanage the UN’s day-to-day activities and the way the organisation is financed are impeding management and making reform difficult. There is a need to reform the relationship between the UN Secretariat and the member states 
  • Norway is in a good position to play a role as bridge-builder, as we enjoy a high level of confidence due to the investments – financial, diplomatic and political –that we have made over many decades. 

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