United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said COVID-19, climate protests, struggles for more inclusive politics, human rights and waning public trust, have put a magnifying glass to the social and economic injustices plaguing societies.
Guterres warned that such crises are an “enormous governance challenge” for all nations, and overcoming them requires approaches driven by unity, solidarity and compassion.
“For that, we need governance models and structures that work for the common good, with an intergenerational perspective. We need to prioritize the rebuilding of trust between people, institutions and leaders,” he highlighted.
The UN chief called for leadership that is gender equal, noting recent studies that show women leaders have responded faster to COVID-19, adopted well-informed positions, led with empathy, and built inclusive coalitions that delivered better results.
“The key to reinvigorated and reimagined governance lies with truly meaningful participation of people and civil society in the decisions that affect their lives,” he added.
In his remarks, delivered via a video link, the Secretary-General highlighted the importance of participation in public affairs as a fundamental human right and an underutilized tool for better policy making.
Meaningful participation of all segments of society in decision-making can address daunting challenges and it is a key element of the inclusive multilateralism needed for 21st century global governance, said Mr. Guterres.
However, participation is being denied and civic space is being crushed in many places around the world, he warned.
“A global pushback on human rights has placed participation in its crosshairs,” said Mr. Guterres, adding that repressive laws are impeding the work of journalists and human rights defenders – especially women – and governments, are employing broad definitions of terrorism and abusing new technologies to curtail freedoms of civil society groups.
Mr. Guterres called on everyone to “take a hard look” on how such alarming trends be reversed, and participation and inclusion – online and offline – become reality.
He also reminded that the decisions today have implications in the future, and therefore, urged ways to allow future generations be represented in decision making, at both the national and international levels.
“Let us nurture and draw on the knowledge, creativity and diversity of our communities,” added the Secretary-General, stressing: “Participation is critical if we are to strengthen societies and meet the urgency of our times.” (Source: UN News)