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It is my pleasure to welcome you to this exchange about the future of multilateralism in the 21st century.
We convene today on the eve of a historic date: on October 24th1945 the United Nations officially came into existence, after its founders had ratified the UN Charter.
With this Charter and the subsequent establishment of a more and more complex network of institutions and norms, the first truly global multilateral system in human history was established. Since then, the United Nations have helped to end and to prevent armed conflicts, to fought famine, poverty and diseases, punished crimes against humanity and defended human rights.
But despite these achievements, we seem to commemorate the founding of the United Nations these days more than we celebrate it.
There are two reasons for this modesty:
One of them owed to the restrictions forced upon us by Covid-19.
The other reason might even be harder to overcome:
Trust in efficiency and legitimacy of multilateral institutions has diminished over the last years – and this, ironically, in a time when the need for multilateral solutions to challenges like global warming, refugee crises or global pandemics, seems to be obvious.
If Covid-19 will considered in history as a breaking point of multilateral cooperation or as a starting point for a renewed global social contract remains to be seen.
But one thing has already become clear: the concrete and lasting repercussions of global challenges like Covid-19 are not immutable. It depends on our ability to draw the proper conclusions, to react to them and to formulate a common vision for a post-Covid world. To use the chance we have to build back better.
Germany is convinced that this world will need more, not less multilateral cooperation. But we also have to acknowledge that the multilateral system established 75 years ago has to face new challenges:
Not only do we need a “multilateralism that delivers” and provides answers and solutions for the questions of our time.
We also need a multilateralism that is inclusive and represents the political, demographic and economic realities of the 21th century.
And we need a multilateralism that is creative, a multilateralism that relies not only on states and intergovernmental organisations, but on civil society, on NGOs, networks, private actors, local government and grass-roots initiatives.
This is one reason why Foreign Minister Maas has launched, together with his French counterpart and other partners, the Alliance for Multilateralism almost two years ago.
Efficiency, representativeness and creative openness will be needed for a renewed multilateral system of the 21st century as we imagine it – with a strong UN at the core.
Germany is currently preparing a White Paper on Multilateralism, which aims to outline concrete areas, where our multilateral ambitions should be directed to.
We appreciate that the Global Solutions Initiative has facilitated an exchange with you as representatives of the next generation of global decision makers in the preparation of our White Paper.
Your comments and ideas are highly appreciated and will help us to sharpen our thoughts, widen our ideas and – hopefully – to present a vision of multilateralism which will meet some of the provisions outlined before.
I think, this would be the appropriate way to honor the historical achievements of the UN. And now, I am looking forward to our exchange and your questions. Thank you very much!