Jiang Li – Xinhua writer
Beijing – Seventy-five years ago, tormented by the scourge of war that twice brought untold miseries to mankind, countries around the world joined hands and built up an international order and system with the United Nations at the core.
As the most universal, representative and authoritative international organization, the United Nations has now become the most important multilateral arena to promote peace, and address regional and global issues.
When the international community is marking the United Nations’ 75th birthday, the Covid-19 pandemic is raging all over the world, and world leaders have chosen to hold commemorative events via video link instead. In addition to the way the leaders gather, the sudden strike of the pandemic has been changing the world in more aspects, thus the once-in-a-century transformations unfolding in the world are picking up speed.
It is truly an era of enormous uncertainty. Protectionism and unilateralism are rearing their ugly heads while sentiments of anti-globalization are on the rise. It is even more worrisome that the bullying behaviour of a certain superpower is posing a grave challenge to the world’s multilateral system epitomized by the United Nations.
And when mankind is struggling to beat the coronavirus outbreak as its common enemy, the spirit of solidarity and cooperation is facing a danger of being cast aside, while the spectre of ideological confrontation is hovering high.
Under such circumstances, the theme of this year’s UN anniversary commemorations, “The future we want, the UN we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”, bears utmost significance.
Around the world, the curve of the ravaging pandemic has yet to be flattened. Infections keep mounting and deaths continue to spike. The once-in-a-century global public health crisis has once again highlighted the fact that the human race belongs to a community with a shared future, and only by joining hands can all countries steer themselves out of the plight.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon in the face of COVID-19. And reaffirming the commitment to multilateralism has been particularly urgent at this dark hour of human history.
To uphold multilateralism, the world should safeguard the authority of the United Nations. Over the past 75 years, the positive role of the UN has been too obvious to deny, leaving profound inspirations as well as valuable legacies to human society.
Over the decades, the United Nations has set up and operated a collective security mechanism, and deployed more than 70 peacekeeping operations involving nearly 130 countries. Its instrumental role in effectively settling local conflicts, preventing new world wars, and preserving overall global peace and stability has helped lay a solid foundation for social and economic development worldwide.
With the presence of the UN-centered multilateral system, countries worldwide have fostered closer ties and deeper cooperation, and the global economic and social development has made a giant leap forward.
According to the World Bank statistics, from 1960 to 2019, the total global gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 1.37 trillion to 87.7 trillion in current US dollars. In that same period, the per capita GDP rose from 452 dollars to 11,428 dollars, and the global trade to GDP ratio rose from 26.72 percent to 60.4 percent.
Additionally, such UN specialised agencies as, among others, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the International Atomic Energy Agency, have all made their respective contributions to the solution of global problems and to the progress of human society.
The WHO, in particular, has played an irreplaceable role amid the pandemic in keeping the world updated with accurate and timely information, boosting global coordination in pandemic responses, and promoting international cooperation on vaccine research and development.
At such a critical moment, the world should guard against and reject any unilateral move that could weaken the WHO because those moves will only take a hard toll on global solidarity and cooperation, and delay mankind’s victory over the virus.
Fixing global problems requires global solutions. And there is no better venue than the United Nations for the international community to search for those solutions. Whether it is to battle the pandemic or to plan for a post-epidemic recovery, all countries need to firmly safeguard the authority of the United Nations and maintain the international order and system with the United Nations at the core.
To uphold multilateralism, the world should also acknowledge and practice the global governance concept based on the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
The essence of multilateralism, said President Xi at the 2019 BRICS summit in Brasilia, is that international affairs should be addressed through extensive consultation rather than decided by one country or a few. His remarks ring even truer today.
In recent years, the international community has been grappling with the rise of trade bullyism, abuse of unilateral sanctions and national-security maximalism, which has further eroded the multilateral foundation of global governance.
Upholding multilateralism means that the fate of the world should be in the hands of all; international rulebook written by all; global affairs negotiated by all; and dividends of development shared by all, instead of allowing individual countries to reign supreme. President Xi has also pointed out, “in the era of globalization it should not be some people fighting against other people, but should instead be all bringing benefits for all.”
The Covid-19 pandemic tells that when faced with various global challenges, all countries should march forward hand in hand in the spirit of consultation, democratize international relations, and increase the voice of the developing countries in major global institutions so as to forge a more effective global governance system that can meet the needs of this fast-changing world.
To uphold multilateralism, the world should take development as the golden key to solving many of the most pressing global problems, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.