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Multilateralism after COVID 19: what kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?

ECOSOC held a high-level conversation among leaders on global solidarity and renewed multilateralism during times of crisis and in the continuing pursuit of long-term sustainable development. The session was a substantive contribution of ECOSOC to the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of the United Nations held under the overall theme of “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.”

This session reflected on the kind of multilateralism needed today to deliver a forward looking and effective collective response to global crises such as COVID-19 and long-term challenges such as climate change, while accelerating progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Central to the discussion was the role of the UN and its institutions in charting the way forward towards more trusted and impactful international cooperation.

Against the backdrop of a changing international environment, the session focused on critical forces shaping the trajectory of multilateralism and explore ways to reinvigorate the multilateral agenda through strong multilateral leadership, effective international institutions and an enhanced focus on global public goods and justice for all.

The event also considered how to evolve towards a more “inclusive multilateralism” by strengthening the voices and participation of civil society, the private sector, academia and other non-state actors in the work of the United Nations.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • What concrete steps could the international community take, through the United Nations, to enhance global solidarity and international cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • In light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, what would an “ideal United Nations” look like and how can we get there?
  • What actions would need to be taken to make the work of the UN more open and inclusive?
  • Looking ahead, what is the role and contribution of ECOSOC in a reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system that is fit for addressing short and long-term global challenges, including the provision of global public goods and justice for all?

The recording of the session can be found here and here

9:45 AM – 10:30 AM:  Opening and panel


  • H.E. Ms. Mona Juul, President of Economic and Social Council


  • Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations


  • H.E. Mr. Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia, International Peace Institute

Resource persons:

  • Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD
  • H.E. Ms. Yasmine Fouad, President of the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Mr. Zhang Xinsheng, President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact
  • Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
  • Ms. Julia Sanchez, Chair of the Board of CIVICUS

10:30 AM-11:30 AM:  Statements by Member States


  • H.E. Ms. Mona Juul, President of Economic and Social Council


Heads of State or Government
H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, NORWAY
H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, INDIA

H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister, CHINA

H.E. Mr. Pedro Brolo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, GUATEMALA
H.E. Ms. Gila Gamliel, Minister of Environmental Protection, ISRAEL
H.E. Ms. Maria Ubach Font, Minister of Foreign Affairs, ANDORRA
H.E. Ms. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, JAMAICA
H.E. Mr. Carmelo Abela, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, MALTA
H.E. Mr. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, PAKISTAN
H.E. Ms. Alexandra Hill, Minister of Foreign Affairs, EL SALVADOR
H.E. Mr. Christian Guillermet, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs, COSTA RICA
H.E. Ms. Martha Delgado Peralta, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, MEXICO
H.E. Ms. Erika Mouynes, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation, PANAMA
H.E. Ms. Norma Allegra Cerrato, Vice-minister for International Cooperation and Promotion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, HONDURAS
H.E. Ms. Sevinj Hasanova, Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, AZERBAIJAN
H.E. Ms. Rosemarie G. Edillon, Undersecretary of the National Economic and Development Authority, PHILIPPINES

KAZAKHSTAN (On behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries)

H.E. Mr. António Guterres
Secretary-General, United Nations
H.E. Mr. António Guterres

Secretary-General, United Nations

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.

Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group.

From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees.

For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.

Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.

H.E. Mr. Kevin Rudd
Former Prime Minister of Australia, International Peace Institute
H.E. Mr. Kevin Rudd

Former Prime Minister of Australia, International Peace Institute

The Honorable Kevin Rudd AC served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister (2007-2010, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010-2012). He led Australia’s response during the Global Financial Crisis—the only major developed economy not to go into recession—and helped found the G20. Mr. Rudd joined the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York as its inaugural President in January 2015. In 2015-16, Mr. Rudd led a review of the UN system as chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism. He is Chair of the Board of the International Peace Institute, Chair of Sanitation and Water for All, and was recently appointed to the IMF Managing Director’s new External Advisory Group. He is a Senior Fellow with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Distinguished Fellow at Chatham House in London and a Distinguished Statesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Mr. Rudd is proficient in Mandarin Chinese. He also remains actively engaged in indigenous reconciliation.


H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg
Prime Minister of Norway
H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg

Prime Minister of Norway

Ms. Erna Solberg is the Prime Minister of Norway. Prior to that, she was Minister of Local Government and Regional Development 2001-2005, in Kjell Magne Bondevik's Second Government. Ms. Solberg has represented the Conservative Party in the County of Hordaland at the Storting (Parliament) since 1989. At the change of government she was the Conservative Party's parliamentary leader. During the recent Storting period she was member of the Standing Committee on Health and Care Services Affairs, the Standing Committee on Foreign and Defence Affairs and the Electoral Committee, 08.10.2009 - 30.09.2013. She has previously been a member of standing committees on i.a. Finance and Local Government, and head of the Storting's delegation to NATO's Parliamentary Assembly

H.E. Ms. Mona Juul
Seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council
H.E. Ms. Mona Juul

Seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council

Her Excellency Mona Juul was elected seventy-fifth President of the Economic and Social Council on 25 July 2019. Ambassador Juul is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations in New York.

Ambassador Mona Juul was previously Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2014-2018), Director General for Security Policy and the High North in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011-2014), Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York (2005-2010) and Chair of the 1st Committee of the 61 session of the United Nations General Assembly (2006).

She served as Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005), accredited to Cyprus for the same period. State Secretary/Deputy Foreign Minister at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2000), Special Advisor/Ambassador/Middle East Coordinator in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1997-2000) chairing the AHLC (Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Assistance to the Palestinians). She was Minister Counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv (1994-1997). Her first posting was at the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo (1988-1990).

Mona has been with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1986, during which time she has gained broad diplomatic experience. This includes working in the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-1993) and member of the small Norwegian team that facilitated the secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO leading to the Oslo Agreement.

She holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Oslo.

Ambassador Juul was born 10 April 1959 and is married to Mr. Terje Rød-Larsen. They have two children.

H.E. Ms. Yasmine Fouad
President of the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
H.E. Ms. Yasmine Fouad

President of the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Dr. Yasmine Fouad is Minister of Environment of the Arabic Republic of Egypt. Her expertise is in Environment and International cooperation with more than 20 years’ experience working in Government, UN organizations, NGOs and Universities. She holds her MSc in Environmental Science and PhD in Political Science / Euro Mediterranean Studies.

Mr. Angel Gurría
Secretary-General of the OECD
Mr. Angel Gurría

Secretary-General of the OECD

As Secretary-General of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 2006, Angel Gurría has firmly established the Organisation as a pillar of the global economic governance architecture including the G7, G20 and APEC, and a reference point in the design and implementation of better policies for better lives. He has broadened OECD’s membership with the accession of Chile, Estonia, Israel, Latvia and Slovenia, and has made the Organisation more inclusive by strengthening its links with key emerging economies. Under his watch, the OECD is leading the effort to reform the international tax system, and to improve governance frameworks in anti-corruption and other fields. He has also heralded a new growth narrative that promotes the well-being of people, including women, gender and youth, and has scaled up the OECD contribution to the global agenda, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Born on May 8th, 1950, in Tampico, Mexico, Mr. Gurría came to the OECD following a distinguished career in public service in his country, including positions as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance and Public Credit in the 1990s. For the first time in a generation, he steered Mexico’s economy through a change of Administration without a recurrence of the financial crises that had previously dogged such changes.

Mr. Gurría holds a B.A. degree in Economics from UNAM (Mexico) and a M.A. degree in Economics from Leeds University (United Kingdom). He has received Honorary Degrees from the Universidad de Valle de México, Rey Juan Carlos University, European University of Madrid, and the Universities of Leeds, Haifa and Bratislava.

A regular contributor to some of the world’s leading newspapers and journals, Mr. Gurría has received several awards and decorations from more than 30 countries, including the titles of Grand officier de la Légion d’honneur and Chevalier dans l’ordre du Mérite agricole, awarded by the French Government. He has also received a Medal from the French Senate and the Ridder Grootkruis in de Orde van Oranje-Naussau awarded by the Netherlands. Most recently, he was distinguished by the President of Korea with the Gwangwha Medal for Diplomatic Service, and also received recognition to his longstanding contribution to the development of public administration in Mexico, the Medalla al Mérito Administrativo Internacional “Gustavo Martínez Cabañas”, awarded by the Instituto Nacional de Administración Pública (INAP). In 2007, Mr. Gurría was the first recipient of the Globalist of the Year Award of the Canadian International Council to honour his efforts as a global citizen to promote trans-nationalism, inclusiveness and a global consciousness. His awards include the Ben Gurion Leadership Award, the Award Isidro Fabela by the Mexican Association of International Studies, the Nueva Economía Award, the Orden Bernardo O’Higgins en el Grado de Gran Cruz, and the Medalla Rectoral from the University of Chile.

Mr. Gurría has participated in various international not-for-profit bodies, including the Population Council, based in New York, and the Center for Global Development based in Washington. He chaired the International Task Force on Financing Water for All and continues to be deeply involved in water issues, being a member of the United Nations Secretary General Advisory Board for Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) and of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Governors of the Centre for International Governance Innovation; based in Canada, the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), co-hosted by Korea and Denmark, and the Advisory Board to the International Forum on Genomics, Innovation and Economic Growth, and was recently appointed as a member of the Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences of Spain.

Mr. Gurría is married to Dr. Lulu Quintana, a distinguished ophthalmologist, and they have three adult children.

Mr. Zhang Xinsheng
President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Mr. Zhang Xinsheng

President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Mr ZHANG Xinsheng is the President of IUCN, elected by the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju, Korea, and re-elected by the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawaiʻi, USA. He is also the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Eco Forum Global (EFG), a premium platform and a public-private partnership organization committed to building consensus among all stakeholders home and abroad for development of a green and sustainable future. He also serves as a member of the Advisory Commission of China State Council.

Mr ZHANG was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2005 (the first time a person from East Asia became President), and served as a member of this Board for eight years (2001-2009). He was also elected Chairman of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. The Tribute to the President of the Executive Board written and adopted by the General Conference, 34th Session of UNESCO, reads, “The General Conference [commends Mr. Zhang’s] intellectual and human qualities which enabled him to build consensus through extensive consultations”. He also served as Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, and elected Vice President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) for three terms.

Mr ZHANG has held positions in China’s central, provincial and municipal governments. He was elected for two consecutive terms from 1989 to 1997 as Mayor of metropolitan Suzhou city. During his tenure as Mayor, Mr ZHANG served as the founding Chairman of the Administrative Committee of China-Singapore Cooperative Suzhou Industrial Park (a modern international township), which was then the largest-scale opening-up programme in China. Its model of sustainable urban planning has started to disseminate successfully in the region and beyond. As China’s Deputy Minister of Education (2001–2009), Mr ZHANG was in charge of educational policy, regulations and international exchange and cooperation. He was elected as a deputy to the 7th and 8th National People’s Congress of China and also served as Member of the 11th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Mr ZHANG obtained a Master Degree in Design Studies with distinction at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

Mr ZHANG brought a consensus approach to decision-making based on broad consultation and dialogue with all components of the Union, along with more effective Council governance processes. He has also worked tirelessly to improve IUCN’s financial stability. Under his leadership, together with his fellow colleagues in the Council, Secretariat and Commissions, the IUCN has stayed on course with its core mission and has also successfully navigated emerging and uncharted opportunities for impacting international and regional policy regimes, always with an eye to concrete conservation outcomes on land and sea.

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake
Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake

Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26. She is the youngest senior official in the UN and the first woman to hold this position. In this role, Jayathma works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action – and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General.

In November 2019 Jayathma was recognized by Time Magazine in the list of “Time 100 Next: Rising stars shaping the future”

Originally from Sri Lanka, Ms. Wickramanayake has worked extensively on youth development and participation, and has played a key role in transforming the youth development sector in her home country.

Prior to taking up her post, Ms. Wickramanayake was instrumental in creating the movement for civic and political engagement of young people, especially young women in Sri Lanka named “Hashtag Generation”. Previously, she advocated for global youth development on an international level including as the first ever Sri Lankan Youth Delegate to the United Nations and as the youth lead negotiator and member of the International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth 2014 where she played a critical role in mainstreaming youth in the Post-2015 Process and in the establishment of World Youth Skills Day.

Ms. Julia Sanchez
Chair of the Board of CIVICUS
Ms. Julia Sanchez

Chair of the Board of CIVICUS

Julia Sanchez is currently serving as the Chair of the Board of CIVICUS and was previously Treasurer from 2016 to 2019. Julia is also the new Secretary General of ActionAid International since March 1, 2020. She is a development practitioner, feminist, and environmentalist who has been promoting equity and sustainable development for over 25 years. She has extensive experience in top-level international development management, including many years working in developing countries with international partners and donors. Julia was previously President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (2011-2018), a candidate for the Canadian Parliament, and has worked on a global climate change campaign and with the labour movement. She is an active supporter of national and global civil society coalitions, having also served as Co-Chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, among others. Julia is an economist and political scientist. She holds an MA (in Economics) from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She is trilingual and has lived and worked in numerous countries in North and Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Ms. Sanda Ojiambo
CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
Ms. Sanda Ojiambo

CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact

Sanda Ojiambo is the Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact. Launched in July 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is the Secretary‑General’s strategic policy and advocacy initiative calling for the alignment of business operations and strategies with 10 universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. It also motivates companies to integrate the SDGs into their core business strategies and operations.

With more than 10,000 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 160 countries engaged through 68 country networks, the Compact is the largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative in the world. Endorsed by chief executive officers, it is a practical framework for the development, implementation and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices, committing businesses to sustainability and shared responsibility for achieving a better world.

Ms. Ojiambo, brings 20 years of experience to lead the UN Global Compact. She has served as Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact, Safaricom Plc, Kenya since 2010. Ms. Ojiambo was also the Senior Manager of Safaricom and MPESA Foundations, Kenya from 2008 to 2010, during which she led the implementation of several public-private partnership initiatives between Safaricom and UN organizations.

Throughout her career, she has cultivated and managed relationships with key business entities and civil society organizations, including her capacity development work in Somalia with UNDP and CARE International.

Ms. Ojiambo holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota, USA, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Development from McGill University, Canada.

Remarks by Mr. Antonio Guterres
Statement by Prime Minister of India
Statement by H.E. Mr. Kevin Rudd
Statement by Mr. Angel Gurría
Statement by Ms. Sanda Ojiambo
Statement by Ms. Julia Sanchez
Statement by Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake
Statement by Bangladesh
Statement by Bolivia [English]
Statement by Bolivia [Spanish]
Statement by China [Arabic]
Statement by China [Chinese]
Statement by China [English]
Statement by China [French]
Statement by China [Russian]
Statement by China [Spanish]
Statement by Costa Rica
Statement by El Salvador
Statement by Ethiopia
Statement by Guatemala
Statement by Honduras
Statement by Israel
Statement by Jamaica
Statement by Madagascar
Statement by Mexico
Statement by Nepal
Statement by Nicaragua
Statement by Paraguay [English]
Statement by Paraguay [Spanish]
Statement by Switzerland
Statement by Thailand
Statement by Turkey
Statement by Venezuela [English]
Statement by Venezuela [Spanish]
Statement by Group of LLDC
United Nations