Dr. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, President of the sixty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, delivered a lecture entitled “Reaffirming the Central Role of the United Nations in Global Governance” at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo on Friday, 29 October 2010. Dr. Deiss opened his presentation by stressing that the world is at a critical juncture with regard to global governance for three reasons.
First, we are witnessing an increasing degree of global interconnectedness as well as a rise in both new and old borderless challenges, such as climate change, cybercrime and financial crises. Following the principle of subsidiarity, the global nature of these issues requires appropriate global responses. Second, the recent financial crisis illustrates a wider shift in political power towards emerging markets. Third, systems of global governance are becoming increasingly complex, encompassing civil society, multilateral institutions and informal intergovernmental frameworks (such as the G8 and G20).
In this context, the United Nations emerges as an actor with distinct advantages, including the equal representation of its 192 Member States under the UN Charter. Even so, the global landscape requires further improvement in the General Assembly in four key areas.
Dr. Deiss noted that, first, confidence in the UN as a facilitator of global governance must be reinvigorated. Second, UN economic bodies, specifically the UN Economic and Social Council, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, must be reformed to the point where they can serve their original mandates.
Third, the UN must find a means to communicate with other actors of global governance, such as through informal debates pre- and post-G20 involving the General Assembly and G20 members. Lastly, Dr. Deiss stressed the importance of establishing close connections between national governments, regional institutions, civil society and the private sector.
He concluded by reiterating his vision of a United Nations with the means to serve as a central forum within which such issues can be addressed.