United Nations in focus

The United Nations office in Ghana and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration have been shedding light on the work of the UN in commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the organisations(October 24).Ghana has chosen “Building on the 3Ss – Solidarity, Sustainability and Science – towards a more resilient Ghanaas the national theme, coined from the focus of the 77th United Nations General Assembly on Solidarity, Sustainability and Science, which seeks to emphasize on the necessity for strong solidarity, leveraging on the power of science for sustainable solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

It reflects on the current global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflicts around the world, and suggests a three-pronged approach – Solidarity, Sustainability and Science – to address them.We reproduce below excerpts.

Ques: How will you say the United Nations has fared over the seven decades it has been in existence?

Ans: The UN was established with the coming into force of the UN Charter in 1945 after the 2nd World War to bring peace, prevent another war and ensure development for the people of the world.

Now, more than 75 years later, the United Nations is still working to maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, protect human rights, and uphold international law.

At the same time, the United Nations is doing new work not envisioned for it in 1945 by its founders. The United Nations has set Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, in order to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all. UN Member States have also agreed to climate action to limit global warming, adapting to climate change and loss and damage.

With many achievements now in its past, the United Nations is looking to the future, to new achievements.

The emerging issues which the UN is handling and for which reason we can say the UN is still writing its history of impacting the world positively

  1. COVID-19 pandemic;
    1. Climate Change and loss of biodiversity;
    1. Conflict and crisis mediation and interventions/advocacy for cessation;
    1. Economic crisis and immediate responses, and rallying for global solidarity and response;
    1. Peacekeeping, Global Security and world order etc.
    1. Approach to transform the world – Education, digitization, food security poverty alleviation etc.
    1. Push for SDGs Financing for the acceleration and attainment of SDGs even in the midst of global crisis – Joint SDGs Fund
    1. Push for Adaptation and loss and damage financing for climate vulnerable

Ques: Can you elaborate on Ghana’s role at the UN

Ans: Ghana was admitted to the United Nations on 8 March 1957, two days after attaining independence from Great Britain. The Ghana Mission to the United Nations serves as the Ghana delegation to the United Nations. The Ghana Mission is responsible for carrying out the nation’s participation in the world body.

In June 2021, Ghana was elected to the United Nations Security Council for the 2022-2023 term. Ghana’s agenda is focusing on Enhancing Global Peace and Security for Sustainable and Inclusive Development particularly on the continent of Africa.

Ques: How does solidarity find expression in the international system?

Ans: The Secretary-General of the OACPS, H.E. Mr. Georges Chikoti, in the First Intersessional Summit of OACPS Heads of State and Governments acknowledged that human solidarity remains the backbone of multilateralism and the vehicle through which nations endeavour to uphold their promises with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Strengthening human solidarity, especially in the context of the current global crisis caused by the economic and social challenges, posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change

Extremities actions and the war in Ukraine is therefore, critical than ever. Solidarity has several expressions in all UN bodies and international organizations, as well as regional blocs (counter terrorism, anti-cyber, safe use of Nuclear energy, climate change, etc).

Ques: What are some of the results of international solidarity? In other words, in the absence of solidarity among nations, what happens?

Ans: Solidarity has served cohesion purposes in communities. In fact, the diverse nature of societies requires a level of solidarity. It is for that reason that the late Kofi Annan supported by the governments of Spain and Türkiye instituted the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations in 2005 which has grown to serve different purposes besides minimizing polarization as a result of cultural, gender, religious and cross-cultural tensions. In the absence of solidarity, there can be no collaboration and cooperation, which would affect consensus building to tackle problems.  Without international solidarity, the world could not have managed the COVID-19 better than it has.

Ques:Is solidarity same as multilateralism? 

Ans: Solidarity and multilateralism are not the same although they are connected. Solidarity is the coming together of diverse people to achieve a common goal while multilateralism is the coming together of distinct nations or countries to solve common problems.

Solidarity thus, finds expression as one of the principles of multilateralism with the others being consultation and inclusion.

Ques: What are some of the concepts that must be sustained for the cause of humanity?

Ans: Environmental the responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect global ecosystems to support health and wellbeing, now and in the future. Social sustainability deals with a measure of the human’s welfare. SocSus is not a concern regarding simple existence, but a wish to flourish and have the best lifestyle for which could dream. Economic sustainability is about achieving long-term economic growth without damaging the environment or depleting resources. It is about balancing what we need and what we have. 

Ques:Can you briefly explain the term “sustainability” in global operations? 

Ans: In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability in global operations means that our practices and methods of operation today or the use to which we put the resources at our disposal, should not put the future resources at risk.

Ques: Why is the United Nations putting so much premium on science today?

Ans: The institutional development of the United Nations has been marked by its different responses to an increasingly complex set of challenges. The Global Agenda and the related responsibilities of the United Nations increasingly deal with issues whose terminology has not been included in the Charter of the United Nations. The need for qualified knowledge inputs into the policy-making processes of the international community has, however, been present from its creation. The Charter mandates the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to initiate studies for the promotion of international cooperation in the political, economic, social, cultural, educational and health fields as well as for assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms (Art. 13.1.a-b; Art, 62,1).

For these and many other reasons the UN relies on science which provides evidence that aids in its decisions. For example, the UN and its partners rely heavily on science to combat the COVID-19 pandemic which has been with us for some time now. Through the various fields of science the UN has developed programmes and initiatives that aim at including the youth, gender mainstreaming, improved food security, climate action and priority areas as well as maintain global peace and order amongst others.

Ques: What is so exigent about science and technology in the affairs of mankind that the two have dominated UN themes in the last three years?

The importance of the two concepts-science and technology- are driving mankind in new and sophisticated ways like never before, through technology we have become more networked and connected as if we were never apart. Technology has thus served as the bridge between the different hemispheres, geographies, the developed and the developing.

The COVID-19 pandemic underlined the importance of technology to mankind. In that, through technology, peoples of the world still connected technologically through voice and video calls. Science has facilitated development of new vaccines, improvement in previous ones, identification of new medical threats, diagnosis of diseases which hitherto could not be diagnosed, adjudication of cases better to prevent incarceration of the innocent, sound report and interpretation to mention a few. Science has also improved educational delivery, agriculture, engineering, and many fields of life. Science and technology can only get better if we give them the needed importance they deserve in ensuring our survival.

Ques: Does it come as business as usual under UNESCO or it is different with special emphasis this time around? 

Ans: Under UNESCO, Science and technology are to be guided by ethics that ensures linkages between scientists, ethicists, scientists, policy-makers, judges, journalists, and civil society. In that regard, member states in UNESCO continue to explore avenues for sound reasonable policies to govern science and technology.

Ques: After over seven decades of the United Nations in Ghana what would you say are the major achievements of the UN in Ghana and could you tell us what Ghana has achieved from the UN’s work?

Ans: Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic together with the Government of Ghana, the UN resolutely supported its ambitious development plan to be on track with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commitments;

UN in Ghana commits at least $260m to support Ghana’s development priorities between 2023 and 2025 through a new Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework to be signed / signed on 25th October, 2022.

The launch of the Ghana Food Systems in 2021 which was the beginning the national dialogues on food systems that aim at starting a new way of thinking and sharing experiences and lessons to inform the transformation of our foods systems. This resulted in initiatives such as the Planting and Rearing for Food and Jobs; aiming at increasing farmer productivity and overall incomes of farmers, the One-district-one-factory providing; an opportunity to increase value addition and create jobs, the one-village-one dam; to increase all year production; just to mention a few.

The UN system’s role in Ghana is to serve as a catalyst in the process of development. UN’s mission is to provide policy support and strategic interventions that are catalytic in achieving Ghana’s vision. UN’s role is to ensure inclusiveness – So that we are able to reach everyone everywhere including women, children, and people with disability, the aged and the marginalized. To that end, the UN has played and continues to play active roles in the development processes of Ghana, and provides catalytic support that will enable Ghana to recover from global challenges, build back better and achieve the SDGs. One that encourages and provides an avenue for the youth voice to be heard.

Ques: After 77 years of the UN, we still have wars and annexations. There is still poverty, child and maternal mortality, and a host of other issues. In these modern times when countries are able to solve their problems using bilateral means, do we still need the UN? Would you agree with the assertion that the UN has outlived its relevance?

Ans:The UN is still relevant and is more relevant than ever. It is repositioning itself to meet new challenges not envisaged at the time of its establishment 77 years ago. Rightly, so, it is using diplomatic pressure to pursue aggressively the calls for the respect for human rights and rules-based order and is using all of its institutions and structures to ensure food security, global peace and security in the face of illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine by Russia, which have affected economies and threatened the livelihoods of many globally. The UN has not outlived its relevance, not at all.


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