As you know, September 2014 saw the opening of the new session of the UN General Assembly, with special days devoted to climate change and to the MDGs and SDGs. The deliberations on the next “development” agenda resume in earnest in January, and are to conclude with a new agenda by mid-September 2015.
2015 will also have other hopefully milestone, transformative conferences:
- on women – marking 20 years since the path-breaking Beijing Conference (New York, March 2015);
- on finance for development – hopefully leading to claimable decisions on generating genuinely additional ODA and progressive, equitable tax reform (Addis, July 2015); and
- on climate change – hopefully getting commitments from the world’s largest polluters to turn to sustainable – liveable – production and consumption patterns (Paris, November-December 2015).
Interestingly, the High-level panel of experts invited to advise UN SG Ban Ki Moon recently issued an open letter updating its report of last year (see http://gracamacheltrust.org/new/images/downloads/HLP_open_letter_FINAL.pdf). The letter stresses the role of business in achieving the agenda, once again illustrating the international bias towards the private sector – the role of the state is not considered, and the limitations of the capitalist economic rationale for fostering transformation are idealised.
And: women, children and civil society do not feature in the letter. When even the Nobel Prize Committee recognises the importance of women’s and rights, by according prizes to child and girl child rights activists, this is surprising, to say the least.
The next eleven months will show whether multilateralism can become visionary, as it once was, long ago, or is becoming irrelevant. But we worry not for multilateralism per se, but for the role it ought to be playing for social, economic and environmental justice, for fundamental human rights, and concretely for the rights of women and of the next generation.
UNRISD Senior Research Associate