» Imperative of Effective Multilateralism, explored at Sciences Po Paris
18.01.2016 - UNESCOPRESS

Imperative of Effective Multilateralism, explored at Sciences Po Paris

© UNESCO / Pilar Chiang-Joo

On 18 January, 2016, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, gave a keynote speech at the Youth & Leaders Summit held at Sciences Po, organized by the Paris School of International Affairs, led by President Frédéric Mion and Dean Enrico Letta.

This first Youth & Leaders Summit explored the wide range of issues on the agenda of the United Nations, including the need for efficiency and legitimacy in all international action – from supporting human rights and dignity and sustainable development to preventing and responding to humanitarian crises, enduring conflicts and the rise of violent extremism. 

Irina Bokova opened a day of discussions on this theme, engaging over 1,000 attendees and students, future leaders, along with Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs of France, and Martti Ahtisaari, Former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. 

In her intervention, Irina Bokova portrayed a world facing steep challenges from climate change and deepening poverty to enduring conflicts and the rise of violent extremism and cultural cleansing. 

In this context, the Director-General underlined the enduring relevance of the United Nations – highlighting the turning points in 2015 of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the COP21 Paris Agreement, underlining the leading role of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here. 

“Critics say multilateralism is dying and analysts speak of a ‘G-zero world’ without leadership -- I believe this is misplaced. The United Nations remains the beating heart of the international order, the foundation for rules-based multilateralism. The United Nations remains the place where new ideas are crafted, new agendas framed, new action led. Complex global challenges demand smart global action, on the basis of shared values, for the benefit of all.  This is why the United Nations has never been so vital.”  

In looking forward, Irina Bokova pointed to three core areas of action. 

The first is to ensure, secure and maintain international peace and security, the “DNA of the UN Charter.” The Director-General underlined the importance of more effective peace support operations, deeply integrated into mediation and political strategies. 

“We need a strong culture of prevention across the UN system,” she said. “We need strong early warning and monitoring capabilities. We must also look again at the humanitarian system – this is the importance of the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit. The world can no longer play ‘catch-up.’” 

Irina Bokova gave the example of the generational challenge of violent extremism, pointing the need to not only counter this threat but prevent it, through the ‘soft power’ of intercultural dialogue, good governance, respect for human rights, new efforts for youth empowerment and engagement.

“This is how we can build resilience for peace.” 

Irina Bokova pointed to the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the second area of action. 

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are crafted to empower women and men to become everything they can, to enable all societies to lead themselves, across the world, north and south” she said. “All action must point in this direction.” 

Responding to climate change is the third area of action, building on the historic COP21 Paris Agreement, to protect the planet, to catalyse progress to eradicate poverty. 

“I see the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement as the same agenda. An agenda for human rights. An agenda for poverty eradication. An agenda for sustainability.” 

“We see the globalisation of challenges -- we need the globalisation of solidarity,” said the Director-General. “This is the essential humanism at the heart of the United Nations. The forces of fragmentation are strong, but so is our determination, our belief in the possibility of a better world, for all, for peace.”

Speakers at the Summit included: Pascal Lamy, Former Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Kevin Rudd, Head of the Asia Society Policy Institute, Former Prime Minister of Australia; Hubert Védrine, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, France; Chen Zhimin, Dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, China; Giuliano Amato, Judge of the Italian Constitutional Court, Former Prime Minister of Italy; Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs; Bruno Le Maire, French MP, Former Minister for European Affairs of France; Nabil Fahmy, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Egypt; Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Deputy Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica; Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Spain; Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan; Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria; Jean Marie Guéhenno, President of International Crisis Group, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations; Élisabeth Guigou, Head of the French Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Former Minister of Justice, and Minister of European Affairs of France; Alvaro de Soto, Former UN Under-Secretary General; Sir Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at Oxford University; Kemal Dervis, Vice-President, Brookings Institution, Former Minister of Economy of Turkey, Former Head of the UNDP; Romano Prodi, Former President of the European Commission, Former Prime Minister, Italy; Vuk Jeremić, Former President of the UN General Assembly, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia; Bruno Latour, University Professor at Sciences Po; Amre Moussa, Former Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt; Angela Kane, Former UN Under-Secretary-General; Javier Solana, Former Secretary General of NATO, former European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. 

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