Multilateralism is crucial to finding solutions for humankind's common challenges
15 May 2023
To mark the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, the United Nations in Iran organised a panel discussion – titled “Multilateralism in a Divided World” – on Wednesday, 10 May 2023 in Tehran.
The event brought together members of the diplomatic community, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, academia, UN experts and the media, to discuss the state of multilateral diplomacy across the world, the role of the UN and collective efforts to overcome shared perils and challenges.
The panelists included Mr. Stefan Priesner, UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Nasrin Mosafa, Head of the Iranian Association for UN Studies, His Excellency Mr. Vika Mawzi Khumalo, Ambassador of South Africa and Dr. Ahmadreza Tohidi, Director for Education and Research of the Center for International Legal Affairs of the Presidency. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Raja Gundu, Director of UNIC Tehran.
“We are seeing today a series of transboundary challenges, such as climate change and environmental threats, issues of poverty that result in transnational migration flow and health hazards – such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Multilateralism is essential for finding the solutions to the serious and complex challenges facing our world. The 2023 Sustainable Development Summit and the 2024 Summit for the Future are important milestones in this regard”, said Mr. Stefan Priesner.
He also highlighted some of the key development achievements that had been made through multilateral cooperation since the inception of the UN, such as the eradication of Small Pox, efforts for the recovery of the Ozone Layer, and the remarkable success of poverty reduction that took place between 1990 and 2020 – where 100,000 people were lifted out of poverty, per day.
The centrality of multilateralism in the contemporary state of international relations was further emphasized by panel member Dr. Ahmadreza Tohidi who said that “Multilateralism is a necessity in the international community. In the UN Charter, it specifies that the UN is to serve as the coordinating center for [multilateral engagement], towards peace and international security.”
“The key question here is to convince the parties around the negotiating table that multilateralism can lead to win-win outcomes – ultimately resulting in the attainment of UN goals and objectives,” he added.
Reaffirming the importance of multilateral cooperation, Dr. Nasrin Mosafa highlighted that the world needs to consider a range of mechanisms and tools for overcoming shared grievances – with multilateralism at its center.
“From the perspective of academia, we have to consider the positive attributes of Multilateralism while also remaining critical,” said Dr. Mosafa. “I need to underline the importance of the recent UN resolution on women and diplomacy, which I believe will result in increased presence of women in diplomacy and will strengthen multilateralism throughout the world.”
Ambassador Vika Mawzi Khumalo’s remarks pointed at the value of other multilateral organizations beyond the UN, suggesting that the scope of challenges faced by humanity requires more collaboration on all fronts.
“For us to be able to deal with some of these issues, we have had to join a number of multilateral institutions, not just the UN for which we are co-founding members of” said the Ambassador. “This has been essential for us to counter challenges such as racism, poverty, and climate change. It is more effective when we start to work together either as BRICS, or members of regional organizations for instance the Southern Africa Development Cooperation, or members of the Non-Aligned Movement.”
An interaction with the audience following the discussion spanned a number of relevant topics, including the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, the emergence of new technology and its impact on peace, reform of the Security Council and International Financial Institutions, and how multilateral engagement can contribute to finding common solutions.
On 12 December 2018, the General Assembly adopted the resolution, "International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace" and invited all Member States, observers and organizations of the United Nations to disseminate the advantages of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace, including through educational and public awareness-raising activities.
Marking the international day, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted this year that “Multilateral cooperation is the beating heart of the United Nations, its raison d'être and guiding vision.”
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15 May 2023
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