The many crises around the world only demonstrate that the United Nations is needed more than ever, the UN’s top official in India says.
UN Resident Coordinator, Shombi Sharp, told a panel discussion at this year’s prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival on Sunday that the UN is essential for resolving the planet’s greatest and most complex challenges.
“What we have been hearing about today – the hottest year on record; conflicts; pandemics; SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) terribly off track – all makes the argument for more UN, not less,” he said.
Mr. Sharp noted that the UN already provided many different stages for the world’s Member States to come together to deliver, such as with the COP process for tackling climate change, the High Seas Treaty and the movement towards a global ban on single-use plastics.
“And when the Member States agree on peace and security, the UN also becomes an actor there. So, what we are talking about is the need for more cooperation, more multilateralism, more UN, not less.”
Mr. Sharp was speaking during a panel discussion entitled “Planet on the Boil: Present Tense”, alongside three ambassadors – Philipp Ackermann (Germany) and May-Elin Stener (Norway) and Eric Garcetti (United States) – and the former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran and the former Indian diplomat Ajay Bisaria.
He added that “we can’t forget for a moment that the UN is delivering critical and life-saving services for some of the most vulnerable people across the world, often in the most challenging settings,” citing in particular the Organization’s peacekeeping and humanitarian work.
Mr. Sharp was asked about the UN’s relevance at a time of ‘polycrisis’, including the conflicts in Ukraine and Palestine, and the global climate emergency as well. In his answer he acknowledged the calls for UN reform.
“It is also clear multilateral organizations need reform to stay fit for purpose, something the UN itself is fully on board for, but needs the Member States to act. As the UN Secretary-General says: ‘We can’t build a future for our grandchildren with a system built for our grandparents’.”