A Reflection on the Role of the United Nations in Ensuring a Secure, Prosperous and Equitable World

©UN Photo/Mark Garten

Seventy years ago the world witnessed the conclusion of two months of intense multilateral diplomacy, with the signing of the Charter of the United Nations. In one of the defining acts of the twentieth century, representatives of 50 countries endorsed the formation of an international organization created in the hopes of preserving peace and building a better world for all.

Encapsulated in the opening words of the Preamble of the Charter, “We the peoples…” is a promise to humanity that the United Nations and its Member States have strived to uphold for the last seven decades.

As we mark this important anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, we should take a moment to reflect on all that has been accomplished, and the work that is ahead of us.

Certainly, the United Nations has strived and continues to strive for humanity’s progress and well-being.

The work of the United Nations impacts people around the world on issues related to peace and security, development and human rights; from disarmament to efforts to combat terrorism and extremism; from conflict prevention to peacekeeping and peacebuilding; from disease prevention to the promotion of gender equality and universal education; from refugee resettlement to humanitarian assistance; from the rule of law to the fight against transnational crime.

Yet, given the fundamental ways in which the world has changed over the last seven decades, there is a clear need to reform the United Nations and its principal organs.

One needs to look no further than the exponential growth of the membership of the Organization; from 50 countries in 1945 to 193 countries today. The United Nations needs to transform itself in line with current geopolitical realities to maintain its relevance and improve its effectiveness.

The General Assembly needs to be revitalized. The Security Council needs to be reformed. And the Economic and Social Council needs to be reinvigorated. Furthermore, the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council needs to be strengthened.

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve the everyday lives of people around the world, by putting “people at the centre of all we do”.

In a year when the world’s attention is focused on the future, three important processes are underway that will seek to improve the daily lives of people around the world. The adoption of an ambitious and transformative post-2015 development agenda, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July 2015 and the agreement on a new universal and legally binding climate change agreement this December in Paris will be monumental milestones towards improving the livelihoods of people around the world.

As we celebrate this important anniversary and reflect on the role of the United Nations, we should feel heartened by all that has been achieved.

From supporting the major decolonization efforts across Africa and Asia to providing a critical platform for discourse throughout the cold war; from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to addressing the pressing challenge of climate change; the United Nations has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure a secure, prosperous and equitable world.

As we mark 70 years of existence, we have every reason to celebrate all that our community of nations has achieved. In doing so, we should also look to the future and strive to transform the United Nations to ensure that it remains effective and relevant in a dynamic and globalized new world.