On 21 and 22 February, the IPU and the United Nations, represented by the President of the General Assembly, brought together more than 200 parliamentarians from over 60 countries, as well as ambassadors, representatives from UN organizations, and experts for their annual parliamentary hearing in New York. The hearing focused on the emerging challenges to multilateralism.
The IPU was founded 130 years ago as the first multilateral organization in the world. It was also a precursor to the League of Nations, whose centenary will be celebrated this year. The current multilateral system, centred around the UN, was born in response to the devastation of the Second World War to provide the foundations for peace and human development for all. However, with globalization, Member States have realized that governments alone cannot provide the answer to today’s global problems such as climate change, migration and nuclear disarmament. This is compounded by growing popular distrust in global governance that seems too remote from national concerns.
In his keynote address, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “Globalization and technological progress have led to remarkable advances. But they also have also generated increased inequality, especially within countries. People, sectors and regions are being left behind – creating a sense of frustration. This in turn has been a factor in reducing trust in governments, in political establishments, and in international organizations, like the UN itself. It is our duty in parliaments and in the UN to re-establish trust.”
In her opening remarks, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rdGeneral Assembly, said “When Parliaments mobilize support for matters of international relevance, such as gender equality, the participation of young people, disarmament or preventing conflicts, we can guarantee better results in the field and, therefore, strengthen the response to global challenges. Your legislative work is fundamental to incorporate international agreements and instruments into national legislations and to approve sufficient budgets so that Governments can respond to the commitments they have acquired, like the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, which are part of the 2030 Agenda.”