For the next few days, the world’s heart will be beating in New York at the UN General Assembly. We will be holding a whole range of tough talks there – on peace; on the development of international law; on good climate, health and development policy; and on the rights of women and girls in countries such as Afghanistan.
It’s now hard to imagine a time when German foreign policy and the United Nations were not closely linked. And yet Germany was a latecomer to the UN. After the murder of millions of European Jews and the crimes of the Second World War, Germany was for a long time seen as an enemy nation by the UN’s founding members. It was almost three decades before the two German states had rebuilt enough trust to be able to join the organisation. Today, Germany has transformed from an enemy nation to one of the UN’s greatest supporters.
It is our responsibility to live up to this regained trust by steadfastly upholding the UN Charter and its principles. Wherever these principles are eroded or violated, we will work with our partners to push back – whether in Ukraine or elsewhere. That is the credo of Germany’s membership of the United Nations, and it is the promise tied to our candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2027/2028.
The United Nations is not perfect, but it is simply the best forum available to the international community. In order to succeed in a world in transition, we need to revitalise the United Nations. This means putting the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of the United Nations. It means showing more ambition in efforts to curb the climate crisis, the greatest threat of our time. It means finally organising the United Nations, the international financial institutions and the health agencies in such a way that our partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia have the voice they deserve there.
In order to make the UN system more just, more inclusive and more effective, Germany is joining forces with Namibia to lead the negotiations for the UN Summit of the Future in 2024. And as part of the G4 together with Brazil, India and Japan, we have spent years advocating UN Security Council reform. Because one thing is clear – a Security Council that still represents the world of the 20th century is no longer fit for purpose. Only if the United Nations “updates” its operating system in order to join the 21st century can it remain the place where the international community solves its problems together in the long term.