Multilateralism: 75th Anniversary of the United Nations
Michelangelo Velasco cmf
Doctor. Science of Education
Member of the cmfUNteam
Perhaps it is good to update the COVID-19 data, now that the countries of Europe are gradually overtaking it and China, shrouded in ancient secrets, is communicating to the rest of the world its triumph over the “bat virus”. I am simply reviewing some information from this 24th of May. New York Times: USA reaching 100,000 dead. Financial Times: confirmed cases: 5.160.955; deaths: 331.350. El Confidencial, May 24, active cases: USA (1.164.286), Russia (224.558), UK (220.598), Brazil (182.798), France (89.830), India (73.170), Peru (64.466) Italy (57.752), Spain (56.236), Netherlands (39.261).
Data from the newspaper El País 22 May.
Africa has more than 100,000 cases and 3,000 dead. South Africa has 1,134 new cases, with a total of 19,137; experts speak of 50,000 dead and six million infected, by 2020. Egypt has 15,003 infected and 696 dead. Sudan has more than 400 infected in one day, exceeding the total of 3,000. Let us not forget the refugee camps with Dadaab in Kenya, where 217,000 refugees reside and where cases of VIDOC-19 have already been detected. Let us move on to America. The United States has more than 1.5 million infections, 94,000 dead and 39 million unemployed. Brazil has surpassed 20,000 dead, Chile 45 dead, Peru 4,749 infected and Mexico 6,510 dead and 56,594 infected. I do not follow; it is available on the Johns Hopkins University website
The COVID-19 Coronavirus is one more of a warning that we have to build this world differently. It is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that we realize that there are many problems in humanity, more and more, that are global and need global solutions. We thought that globalization did not imply a profound change in values, criteria and governance. We thought that it was only a question of economics and communications; but it turned out to be something that embodies entire life on planet Earth. This week we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si; it is sad that there are still some people who think of this encyclical as the “Green Encyclical” and do not deepen the meaning of the expression Integral Ecology. It would be truly disappointing, a true “unforgivable mortal sin” refer to Laudato Si without thinking of humanity; without relating it to the tragedy of the COVID-19. The same could be said of the Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 which, still for some, speaks of Nature and the problem of plastics and waste; how long will there be people who insist on dividing up problems in this way! Both Laudato sí and the Agenda 2030 refer to something as complex as proposing a path for radical change: integral development of the whole human being; integral ecology, including the human being; sustainable development of the planet, of peoples and individuals. We could practically all agree on the importance of carrying all this out, especially from a Christian perspective, but who in our world of 2020 can tackle the enormous task of putting it into practice?
The Coronavirus crisis has put simplistic globalization in crisis. From an economic point of view, international production chains are going to be modified; production processes will have to focus, mostly, on the corresponding geographical area. By the way, let us remember that one of the key ways to understand the reduction of extreme poverty in the world in recent years has been the relocation of production in China, India and Asian countries. Many violations of human rights had to be corrected, and there are still many to be corrected, but the reality is that long production chains have taken millions of people out of extreme poverty. What will happen now here and there? The COVID-19 has stopped wars and armed conflicts, but it has ignited old rivalries between countries. How will the world remain in bloc after the Pandemic? Experts in geo-strategy speak of three blocs being formed: around the United States; around China; and around Europe. Africa, America and Asia remain to be seen. We leave aside India, more aligned with the US, and the “Asian tigers” perhaps, with the exception of Korea, more aligned with Japan. Who will lead the change towards a better world?
Let us not think that the United States, at present, committed to an “America first”, is going to be the country around which the new world described above is built. Hardly China, still shrouded in mystery, lack of human rights and committed to world domination through the New Silk Road, also called the Belt and Road; the later name gives more idea of what, in the end, will result for the countries indebted to China for the macro-projects carried out by the Kingdom of the Centre. Could it be Europe? The European area was making progress in terms of real coordination and external commitment in line with Agenda 2030; COVID-19 romp up with a lot of solidarity within the Union, although, in this last stage, it is being rebuilt. The “European Green Deal” continues to move forward. Europe has already approved a taxonomy (criteria) for sustainable development on climate change; companies, investment funds and investors can already know what to call “sustainable and what not” and where to invest and where not: in addition, in 2021 the sustainable social development will be worked, converging once again with Agenda 2030. Europe could be a catalyst for global reforms, “towards a new world”, if it becomes aware of the historic moment in which we are and its responsibility.
At the moment, the USA, China, Europe, India, Japan, America and Africa are not going to take the lead. It may sound utopic, but the only institution that unit everyone is the United Nations. MULTILATERALISM is the correct way. Certainly, is needed a deep reform to transform the UN into a truly effective instrument to carry out Agenda 2030. The proposals made by civil society this year, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN’s foundation, are a very valuable contribution to this transformation. The changes must affect the representation of states in its various decision-making organs. Suppose the changes, we will have to involve, among other things, the abolition of the veto in the Security Council, and the modulation of the right of inviolability of each state in the way it complies with UN agreements. These modifications of the UN status, pass through the modification of the voting system (each country one vote) to a system of representation by “geographical areas”. Perhaps groups such as the Organization of American States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union (EU), as well as the large countries mentioned above, could serve as the seeds for the creation of these “zones”.
After the Coronavirus, there’s a lot to rebuild. The most important one is the suffering and more unequal humanity, which is going to be born from the COVID-19. We must work together. Perhaps strengthening this “cooperative work by geographical areas” can help; provided that these areas are open to cooperation with others, within the framework of a forum for dialogue such as that of the United Nations, renewed after the 75 years of its fruitful history. The new multilateralism is the way. Catholic Christians have much to say and do. Laudato Sí is an excellent guide. Happy fifth anniversary of Laudato Si; happy 75th anniversary of the UN. Good Pentecost; let us ask for the gifts of wisdom and constancy.
Miguel Ángel Velasco cmf
Doctor Ciencias Educación
Licenciado en Teología sistemática
Gideon Kometa. Translator