Rodriguez: COVID-19 surfaced long standing global inequalities, strengthening multilateralism is the solution

Towards a Century of Unity: Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations organized by UNITAR, UN in Turkey, Cifal and BAU Global took place today

Alvaro Rodriguez, United Nations Officer in Charge for Turkey, said that COVID-19 and its social and economic impact has surfaced the long standing global issues including inequalities and development challenges.

Speaking at the “Towards a Century of Unity: Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations”, Rodriguez said that Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ UN development sistem reform actually aimed at addressing such global challenges for a better world for all.

The event was organized jointly by UNITAR, UN in Turkey, Cifal and BAU Global.

The event was also attended by Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Director General of UNITAR, Irina Bokova, the former Executive Director of UNESCO and Enver Yücel, Bahçeşehir University Global Education Network Founder and Chair.

Development system reform

“It is usually said that development rise all boats but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen that it is not the case”, said Rodriguez and added that gender inequality has widened recently around the world as an impact of COVID-19.

Commenting on the structure of the United Nations decision making bodies, Rodriguez said that Security Council set up should be updated in line with the needs of the 21st century.

He emphasized that such a reform is needed for strengthened multilateralism which could be a solution to the complex issues young people face in both developed and developing countries. 

He added that UN Country Teams can contribute to solutions for local issues but “We often do not have the resources to achieve such goals”, he said.

Pointing out that donor community should also reframe its approach to financing the development projects and give flexibility to UN agencies in deploying resources for related work.

Stating that technology, especially with the COVID-19, has seen as a solution for everything, Rodriguez said that such an approach is worrisome because technology should be a tool to reach certain goals not as an end target of its own. “It (technology) is not a solution to social problems”, Rodrigue emphasized.

He added young people are also worried that technology may take their jobs away.

United Nations in 21st Century

Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Director General of UNITAR, said that people feel unprotected around the world as COVID-19 further highlighted the global problems including poverty and inequalities.

Stating that current world is shaken by racism and extreme nationalism, dark side of the technology, Seth urged people to rethink the Charter of the United Nations.

He said 75 years ago the world had different priorities, and if the charter was rewritten today, it would have included pandemic, civil society, climate change and gender inequality in addition to other challenges.

“The Charter should be modernized”, Seth said, and to build a better world for all, UN Country Teams should not only engage with governments but also with civil society and academia.

According to Seth, this will be the new and strengthened form of multilateralism.

He added that Turkey can play an important role in creation of this new approach

UN is not only about Security Council but it is about people

Irina Bokova, former Director General of UNESCO, said that talking about the UN is not only about Security Council but it is talking about people.

“No other organization has the global legitimacy of the UN”, said Bokova, “It is the only organization that gives hope to people”.

Stating that unilateralism is not an answer to global challenges as no-one is safe until all is safe, Bokova said, “We need to reinvest in human development”.

She emphasized the importance of education, science to build back better following the COVID-19, and added, “Progress does not mean anything if it does not protect the world, reduce poverty”. She said Sustainable Development Goals lead the way for progress for all.

Regaining trust

“Confidence in organizations, not only in the UN, has decreased. Confidence in governing bodies has decreased, trust among individuals has decreased. How we can build the trust back for all?”, asked Enver Yücel, Bahçeşehir University Global Education Network Founder and Chair.

He said that UN belongs to everybody and the world needs the UN more than ever to overcome global problems. “However” he said, “UN needs reform to fit for the needs of our times”.

Citing education as one of the leading sustainable solutions for the woes of the people, he said that from kindergarten to universities, students should be taught empathy.

“Access to quality education by all the children of the world will eventually transform our world”, Yücel said.

He said that decades ago many made warnings about the climate change, but most of the people did not listen to them and today the world is in a dire climate crisis. To avoid such a mistake second time, he emphasized that warnings about technological advances should be correctly evaluated.

“When we look at the technological advances we see that technology instead of bringing people together, it makes rich people richer and poor people poorer”, he said and if the world would not take appropriate steps regarding technological advances, world may face a crisis.

Yücel urged the UN to work more closely with academia to find solutions to shared challenges of humanity.

UN entities involved in this initiative
UNIC
United Nations Information Centre
UNITAR
United Nations Institute for Training and Research
Other entities involved in this initiative
CIFAL
CIFAL Global Network