UN to turn 75 in 2020: Commemoration events must include civil society

The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This anniversary provides a much-needed opportunity to reflect on the direction of the UN and ensure it is built to address the global challenges of the 21st Century.

Current plans for the commemoration of the anniversary do not properly include the participation of civil society. Concerns about the transparency and inclusiveness of the UN meetings and events to mark the anniversary (starting June 2020) have been expressed to the UN missions of Singapore and Iceland, who are responsible for facilitating this programme of meetings. See below for joint letter to the Permanent Representatives of Singapore and Iceland, which your organisation can also sign, by emailing jeffery.huffinesATcivicus.org with the name of your organisation the end of May.

Learn more about the the opportunities to strengthen the UN by visiting UN2020.

Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

Dear Excellencies,


We write to you in your capacity as co-facilitators on preparations for the UN’s 75 anniversary to express our deep concern that nascent plans for the commemorative plenary are not suitably inclusive of civil society.

The anniversary presents a vital opportunity to consider how the Organization must adapt to cope with the global threats facing humanity. As the President of the General Assembly said recently: “it is a chance to make the UN more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more relevant to ‘we the peoples.’”[1]

We are, therefore, concerned that the zero draft resolution for the commemoration might not envision a meaningful enough role for civil society. It appears that civil society is not part of the intergovernmental preparatory work, from consultations on outcomes that may be adopted – and even from the commemorative event itself. This would represent a missed opportunity to ensure the inclusion of a diversity of voices in the plenary outcomes, especially those of the most marginalized, through civil society participation.

Global civil society has been a committed and determined ally of the UN since its inception in 1945 – when delegations worked together with NGO representatives on the text of the Charter. Today, that partnership is even more important – as civil society supports delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, and plays a key role in policy formulation, innovation and communication of progress to the broader public.

Encouraged by your stated “deep commitment to an open, transparent and inclusive process”[2] – that reinforces the President of the General Assembly’s emphasis on “making the UN relevant to all people” – we call on you to champion the voices of “we the peoples”, and to ensure that meaningful participation from civil society is included at every step of the way towards the 75th anniversary of the UN.

In this vein, we ask that you consider engaging civil society in the process you are leading, for example, through an informal hearing with civil society, by inviting civil society representatives to present at the next suitable meeting, or by organizing a civil society briefing.

We thank you for your efforts to date, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the 75th anniversary is a meaningful event with lasting impact.

Yours sincerely,

Association of World Citizens

Afrihealth Optonet Association, Nigeria

All Win Network Foundation

Association 3 Hérissons

Association for Farmers Rights Defense (AFRD)

Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India

Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable (AIDB), Burundi

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Centre for Human Rights - Nis

Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research

Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND)

Child Rights Information Network

Citizens for Global Solutions

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Commons Cluster of the UN NGO Major Group

Council of Organizations of the UNA-USA

Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), India

Democracy Matters

Democracy Without Borders

Development Goals Global Watch (DGGW) Inc.

Dr Uzo Adirieje Foundation' (DUZAFOUND), Nigeria

Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA) Nigeria

Elizka Relief Foundation

Elmoustkbal for Media, Policy and Strategic Studies, Egypt.

EPE (Ethical-Possibility-Enhancement) Movement

Equality Bahamas

Federation of Environmental and Ecological Diversity for Agricultural Revampment and Human Rights

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office

Global Voice

Green Hope Foundation

Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Public Trust (ITA) / Centre for Education and Consciousness

International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)

Igarapé Institute

Institute for Planetary Synthesis

Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loreto Generalate

International Alliance of Women (IAW)

International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility

International Presentation Association

Justice for All/BurmaTask Force

Kenana Association for Sustainable Development and Women Empowerment, Egypt

Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA), Uganda

KULU - Women and Development, Denmark

Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka

Mahila Dakshata Samiti, India

National Campaign For Sustainable Development, Nepal

National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NSACCSOL)

National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth, Hungary

Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT)

Nigeria Network of NGOs

Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development

Nonviolence International

One World Trust

Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

Radha Paudel Foundation, Nepal

Reaccion Climática- Bolivia

RIPESS Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy

Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal

Servicios Ecuménicos para Reconciliación y Reconstrucción

Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation

Shishu Aangina

Sisters of Charity Federation

Society for Conservation & Sustainability of Energy & Environment in Nigeria (SOCSEEN)

Society for International Development (SID)

Soroptimist International

Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI)

Tamkeen Association for Rights of People with Disabilities, Egypt

The Stimson Center (Just Security 2020 Program)

Theatre of Transformation Academy

Together First

Transdiaspora Network

U-Solve School of Empathic Leadership & Entrepreneurship (SELE)

UN2020 Initiative

United Nations Association – Suriname

United Nations Association – UK

Women Environmental Programme (WEP)

Women for Water Partnership

Workable World Trust

World Citizens Association of Australia

World Democratic Governance project Association - WDGpa

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

  1. President of the General Assembly statement, 8 April 2019
  2. Co-facilitators joint letter, 29 April 2019


Related Articles