Multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow

Given importance of SOTF, Pakistan has taken a lead role in shaping the agenda and outcome of summit

By Amanat Ali Chaudhry
May 27, 2024
A representational image of the UN General Assembly Hall before the 76th session General Debate at United Nations Headquarters, on September 20, 2021 in New York. — AFP

The United Nations will convene a ‘Summit of the Future (SOTF)’ in New York on September 22-23, in conjunction with the high-level week of the 79th Session of the General Assembly.


The summit’s motto is: ‘Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow’. The Summit will adopt ‘A Pact for the Future’. This is expected to be a concise, action-oriented document to guide transformative changes in the international system, covering peace and security, sustainable development, climate change, human rights and reform of the UN and other international organizations, including international financial institutions.

Spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the initiative of the SOTF builds upon his comprehensive recommendations outlined in the 2021 report ‘Our Common Agenda’. It is billed as a “once in a generation” opportunity to “enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance”.

Given the importance of the SOTF, Pakistan has taken a lead role in shaping the agenda and outcome of the summit. Apart from participating actively within the Group of 77 and China (developing countries) on development issues, Pakistan has organized a cross-regional group of like-minded countries, including Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, to ensure that the ‘Pact for the Future’ upholds the core principles of the UN Charter and promotes the interests and priorities of the Global South. Pakistan has emerged as a pivotal voice in the ongoing negotiating process.

Navigating the negotiations for the Pact for the Future has proved to be an arduous and complex process, especially due to the clear divergences between the positions of developing and developed countries and current geo-political tensions. While the Global South emphasizes the urgency of addressing development and financial reforms, Western nations prioritize human rights issues and wish to transform the UN from an inter-governmental institution into a ‘multi-stakeholder’ body with a prominent role for the West-dominated ‘civil society’ and the private sector in international processes.

The envisaged structure of the ‘Pact for the Future’ has been constructed largely on the basis of the proposals of the Like-Minded Group (LMG) led by Pakistan, with the first chapter devoted to development; a second to peace and security; the third on technology, including a ‘Global Digital Compact’; a fourth on youth and future generations, and the last on governance reform of the UN and international organizations.

The Group of 77 (developing countries) and the Like-Minded Group (LMG) have emphasized that the highest priority must be accorded to mobilizing adequate concessional financing for the over 100 developing countries, like Pakistan, facing liquidity challenges and public and private investment in developing countries to achieve the SDGs and climate goals.

To mobilize concessional finance, Pakistan has proposed several specific measures: Fulfillment of the ODA Commitment of 0.7 per cent of GNI; re-channeling of unused Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for development; allocation of additional new Special Drawing Rights to developing countries; 100 billion recapitalization of the Multilateral Development Bank; improved terms of lending by for developing countries; a sizeable scaling up of climate finance; and mobilization of private-sector investment through innovative mechanisms and platforms.

The LMG has also called for mobilizing investment in sustainable infrastructure and operationalizing mechanisms, like the climate loss and damage fund, as crucial steps in realizing the 2030 Agenda and climate objectives.

Pakistan and the Group of 77 members have also emphasized the need to reform the international financial architecture, which the UN secretary-general has said is “morally bankrupt”. The demand is to enhance the role and voice of the developing countries in the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions to make them more responsive to the development goals, and to create equitable world trade and tax regimes.

Apart from development advocacy, Pakistan has also remained an active voice on peace and security issues, calling for strict adherence to the key principles of the UN Charter, including non-use of force, pacific settlement of disputes, sovereign equality of states, and the right to self-determination of peoples living under foreign occupation.

As conflicts continue to ravage many parts of the world, Pakistan maintains that the Pact for the Future must emphasize the importance of utilizing all possible means, including the UN secretary-general’s recommendations in the New Agenda for Peace, to prevent the outbreak, escalation or recurrence of hostilities on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace and address inter-related threats to international peace and security.

Moreover, it should underscore the proactive role of the UN secretary-general and the UN in conflict resolution, including exercising his authority under Article 99, and given the erosion of disarmament treaties in recent years, promote a new consensus on global arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation.

In the context of a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, Pakistan supports the revitalization of the UN General Assembly, as well as the reform of the UN Security Council to make it more representative, accountable, and democratic, particularly by expanding the presence of non-permanent members, especially from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In recent crises, the UN Security Council has been paralyzed by the use of the veto by some of the five permanent members. Together with members of the ‘Uniting for Consensus’ Group, Pakistan has argued that adding more ‘permanent’ members to the UNSC, with or without the right of veto, will exacerbate the UNSC’s paralysis.

To be effective, reform of the UNSC should be adopted by the consensus of all UN member-states.

The Summit of the Future presents a unique opportunity to lay the foundation for substantive change in the structure and content of international relations by reviving inclusive multilateral cooperation within the framework of the United Nations system. This is imperative in the current times marked by great power rivalries, festering and proliferating conflicts, growing inequality and poverty, rising hate and xenophobia and the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

By championing the principles of the UN Charter, and adherence to its resolutions; by pressing for justice and equity for developing nations; and by advocating for equitable and democratic reforms within the international security and financial architecture, Pakistan is working to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world for all humanity.

The writer is an alumnus of the University of Sussex and has a degree in international

journalism. He tweets/posts Amanat222