Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/64/1)

from UN General Assembly
Published on 04 Aug 2009 View Original
General Assembly
Official Records
Sixty-fourth Session
Supplement No. 1

Chapter I


1. Ten years into the new millennium, the scope and magnitude of the tectonic shifts that are shaping the emerging global landscape are coming into sharper relief. The accelerated globalization of recent decades has linked people's fates together in ways we could only have imagined when the United Nations was created 64 years ago.

2. In recent times, the world has experienced unprecedented prosperity, peace, convergence on an increasingly universal normative framework and, thanks to the expansion of global communication, a heightened sense of community. However, not everyone has benefited from these global developments. Indeed, some have been left behind.

3. Just as over the past few decades, lives around the globe have become increasingly intertwined, so today, as our world is wracked by crisis, globalization is uniting our destinies in unprecedented ways. This past year the shock waves from the economic crisis spread to all corners of the globe with devastating effects on the most vulnerable populations and countries. An ongoing crisis of food insecurity continues to ravage families and communities, with over 1 billion people now going to bed hungry every night. The influenza A(H1N1) pandemic, the first influenza pandemic in over 40 years, has reminded us that our most precious commodity - our health - is linked to that of every other individual on the planet. Looming over all these crises, and potentially dwarfing them, the climate crisis we face continues to unfold, with scientists warning that the changes to our planet and its people are happening faster, and with a more severe impact, than most of our models predicted even a year or two ago.

4. We stand on a precipice. And yet, we cannot lose our nerve, or let the multiple crises turn into a crisis of confidence of our peoples. This is the ultimate multilateral moment. We are seeing the convergence of complex challenges across a spectrum of issues that lie at the core of the United Nations mission. To meet these challenges will require a multilateral effort of immense magnitude - one that draws upon the strengths and contributions of all the countries of the world, as well as their citizens.

5. Twenty-first century multilateralism must build on the multilateral foundations of the previous century, but must also broaden and deepen them in dramatic new ways. There are five essential elements of a new multilateralism that can lead us through the current crisis-ridden landscape to a more bountiful, peaceful and sustainable future.

6. First, the new multilateralism must prioritize the provision of global public goods that counter those threats that are contagious across borders and that most directly link the destinies of all our peoples: we must deal with climate change; ensuring economic stability, food availability and prosperity for all; global health; disarmament and non-proliferation; and the struggle against terrorism.

7. Second, a new twenty-first century multilateralism must recognize the complex interconnections among the challenges that confront us, both the global goods issues and the ongoing challenges of national and regional conflicts, humanitarian disasters and the struggle for truly universal human rights. Solving the problems one by one is neither possible, nor efficient nor effective. An integrated approach must inform our every effort.

8. Third, it must privilege the most vulnerable people around the world and must deliver much-needed security, development and human rights for them. This is essential both on moral grounds, as solidarity is the glue which will keep our human family together, and on enlightened self-interest grounds. The systematic bias against the poor and most vulnerable in good times and bad is simply not sustainable. Twenty-first century globalization must be for all, and must in the first instance be premised on realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

9. Fourth, it must bring to bear a much broader and deeper set of forces to address the multiple crises, broadening our collective response to include at its core, not as add-ons, constituencies from the private sector, civil society and academia. Multi-stakeholder coalitions must become the norm and not the exception if we are to successfully address the challenges before us.

10. Fifth, our new multilateralism will need to adapt and strengthen the existing global multilateral architecture to address the challenges of the twenty-first century. This will mean drawing upon the strengths of all nations, particularly those that are rising with the new century. It will mean harnessing both power and principle. A choice between one or the other is a false one. It also means improving the channels and mechanisms that ensure that the voices of the weak and vulnerable are heard in key decision-making forums. The United Nations is uniquely positioned to marshal this effort.

11. Strengthening our multilateral institutional architecture will also require adapting our multilateral mechanisms to be significantly more robust, as well as faster, more flexible and responsive than they have ever been. This is due in part to the fact that the accelerated pace of life in our contemporary globalized world has shrunk our time horizons, requiring much faster decision-making, and in part to the fact that the alliances and cooperation necessary to achieve desired goals increasingly vary widely from issue area to issue area and change over time.

12. The United Nations can and should be the hub of the new multilateralism. The Organization must provide the platform to harmonize competing interests and views of how to solve the problems the world faces. The United Nations must also continue to develop its ability to deliver the required services to people all over the world, especially those most in need. Not only is this a natural vocation for a universal organization, it is also the comparative advantage of an organization that has global reach, draws upon the resources and strengths of all nations and is charged by its Member States to address the broad spectrum of security, development, humanitarian and human rights challenges.

13. The Organization is committed to adapting to the new realities of this millennium and as this report reveals, has already taken many proactive steps to do so. However, without the full engagement and support of Member States, the magnitude of the global changes under way will quickly overtake our capacities. But with the help and commitment of our Member States, the Organization can be the agent of transformation that helps the human family adjust and adapt to the tremors and tectonic shifts reshaping our world.