Tue, 27 Oct 2020

Massive projections on Sustainable Development Goals are seen on the north facade of the Secretariat building, and west facade of the General Assembly building at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States, Sept. 22, 2015. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

"There is an urgent need for an explicit recognition by global leaders that we are at a turning point and must act decisively to defend and rejuvenate multilateralism," former UN and government officials said in an open letter, stressing that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic needs national leadership and effective global cooperation.

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, a group of prominent former government and UN leaders are calling for strengthening the UN system.

In an open letter - A Time for Renewal: Calling for a Strengthened Multilateral System - released Friday, 48 former UN and government officials from around the world expect the 75th anniversary of the 193-nation body to lead to "a stronger, more accountable, inclusive multilateral system."

According to the letter obtained by Xinhua, the leaders said "the institutional framework of global governance, with the United Nations at its core, must do more to provide the guidance, leadership and decisions required to ensure human safety, security and sustainable development in our interdependent world."

Photo taken on Dec. 11, 2019 shows sorting garbage cans made by paper at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, Spain. (Xinhua/Lu Yang)

"From climate change to human rights, gender and racial equality, and from sustainable development to international peace and security - the international community should honor its commitments to the UN's founding Charter, Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement," they said.

"There is an urgent need for an explicit recognition by global leaders that we are at a turning point and must act decisively to defend and rejuvenate multilateralism," they added, stressing that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic needs national leadership and effective global cooperation.

According to Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Multilateralism is not an option: it is the only path that can deliver a green, sustainable and equitable recovery."

Workers wearing face masks unload food provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) for families in need, during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak, at Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and former foreign minister of Ecuador, said that "the United Nations is an irreplaceable organization. It has a critical role in leading a concerted, coordinated response to the COVID pandemic, and its recovery process which should allow us to build back better."

"This year's commemoration of the UN 75th anniversary is a golden opportunity to rejuvenate and retool the organization to build a more effective and inclusive multilateral system," Espinosa said.

The signatories also include Ban Ki-moon, former UN secretary-general; Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia; Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand; Gordon Brown, former British prime minister; and Tarja Halonen, former president of Finland. The letter will remain open for additional signatures until Oct. 24, United Nations Day. ■

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