75 years of a united world

The UN’s 75th anniversary is a reminder that the future that we want requires urgent and collective action.

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) and its founding charter. For 75 years, the UN has been a global organization with the acceptability, convening power and unparalleled normative impact. In this period, the resolve for all countries to come together to fulfil the promise of the nations has been remarkable.

The 75th anniversary comes at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis in the name of COVID-19, which has already had severe economic and social impact. These are times that remind us that a fight avails an opportunity for hopeful change and transformation.

Coincidentally, the 75th anniversary is being celebrated when the UN's Goal of October 2020 is Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – the very first ideals of the UN when its founding fathers started it in the heat of a conflict.

It is encouraging that Malawi has and continues to be part of the UN’s 75 years of working for peace. Malawi is part of UN’s success stories in Rwanda, Kosovo and Ivory Coast where peacekeepers from Malawi contributed to bringing peace to conflict-ridden societies. Currently, peacekeepers from Malawi are also part of UN’s peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan, saving lives and helping to create conditions for better livelihoods in vulnerable communities.

In his UN 75th anniversary message, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterates the importance of stepping up the impetus for peace to achieve a global cease-fire as the clock keeps on ticking and stresses that: "Our founding mission is more critical than ever - to promote human dignity, protect human rights, respect international law and save humanity from war."

The Secretary-General also calls for ensuring peace with the planet through efforts on climate change, a message echoed by Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera in his special address on the environment on Monday this week. In the times of renewed optimism, it is the best time to join together to keep Malawi’s freshwater bodies and green forests a better habitation for the living species that Malawi treasures of. It is time to work closely with the communities to find clean energy alternatives, expand the use of smart agriculture techniques and generate more markets and more jobs under a “green label”. The science is clear, without preserving the ecosystems and deliberately reducing carbon dioxide emissions, humanity is facing an uncertain future.

The months of the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed the human rights gaps in our economic and social systems in unprecedented ways: children not accessing their right to education; communities have inadequate access to comprehensive healthcare; stigma and neglect affect the elderly; persons living with disabilities are subject to discrimination and exclusion; increased violence against women and girls; and a massive loss of jobs and economic opportunities.

In Malawi we have registered a spike in teen pregnancies and early marriages as a result of elongated school closure. There has also been a rise in cases of rape and sexual assault, as well as attacks on elderly people with horrific videos being shared on social media.

Since 1964 when the UN started operating in Malawi, the UN has been a critical partner to the Government of Malawi on programmes transforming people’s lives, and exchange of ideas, experience and values. While aligned closely with national priorities, over 20 entities of the UN have jointly worked with national authorities across 28 districts to ensure the food security of millions of Malawians; provide essential medicines to health facilities, increase Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) coverage; promote human rights for all persons living in Malawi and actively support the continued consolidation of democracy in Malawi.

The UN’s 75th anniversary is a reminder that the future that we want requires urgent and collective action. The COVID-19 disruptions are also providing a unique opportunity to realize that a more sustainable, peaceful and inclusive future is possible, but difficult decisions and actions are required from leaders.

UN family is encouraged to see Malawi embracing leadership positions in the multilateral systems, both in the regional Africa organizations and the UN. The work of Malawi as the chair of the Least Developed Countries, the upcoming Presidency of SADC and the recent election to the UN Human Rights Council, put Malawi in a powerful global position to promote and protect human rights, sustainable development and peaceful solutions to conflicts.

By Maria Jose Torres

The author is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Malawi.

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RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office