United Nations 70th General Assembly: Hope Springs Eternal?
By Rebecca Theodore
The platform for striking affirmations and brazen oratory ended last weekend in New York. 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets were implemented. Issues on poverty, inequality, the environment and development of peace and security dominated the discussions. Without any doubt, the 70th session of the United Nation General Assembly offered fresh fodder for optimism.
But it wasn't without its challenges.
While the determined attempts of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mirrored the weakness of the past Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), critics assert that the Sustainable Development Goals were nothing but a wave of ecstasy to appease the standings of weaker member states.
A recent edition of the Economist (19 September, 2015) advanced the ridicule by labeling the Sustainable Development Goals as "higgledy-piggledy, "bloated" and "unwieldy."
Elaborating further, Denmark UNGA 70 President Mogens Lykketoft cautioned "there will be no sustainable development without peace and security and respect for human rights."
In all truism, the new 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development marks the highpoints and the
hunger and attaining food security is commendable, but did the United Nations forget the lessons learnt from the previous Millennium Development goals (MDGs)?
Didn't the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) teach that equality in all its forms, and issues as food security, health, and education need to be interrelatedly addressed if progress is to be seen on the social and economic fronts? Why then is the United Nations Security Council continuing to "focus on consensus and passing resolutions that reflect the lowest common denominator of opinions?"
It follows, that if the world is fighting a new form of poverty brought about by elitism and corporatism, then it is obvious that there must be a reform the United Nation Security Council if the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security, political co-operation and fundamental freedoms are to be met. An "ambitious and universal climate agreement is "an absolute must and the first real test of the world community's ability to deliver the necessary policy tools" for sustainable development."
Therefore, resolutions must be enforced by the Security Council if sustainable development goals are to be achieved beyond the 2030 deadline.
In addition,advancements made by self-declared Islamic State, the global migration crisis, the conflict in Ukraine, the Syrian civil war, and the Iran nuclear deal were also at the fore of the discussions for world peace and security. However, it seemed the United Nations General Assembly still staggered in its collective longings and aspirations to promote peace, progress, and fraternity, and to prevent wars, mass-murder, widespread poverty, and socioeconomic and political disaster.
International expert Michael W. Doyle agrees, that the United Nations General Assembly "could enhance its relevance by holding hearings with expert testimony" for not enough is being done.
Indeed, audacious rhetoric should be backed by action.
In this regard, it must also be noted that if the United Nations continue the practice of invading upon the rights and sovereignty of nations, and leaving behind irremediable damage worldwide, then it bleaks the hope that propels humanity to achieve their dreams.
Herein, the world still poses the questions that is left unanswered - Will the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) be the hope that springs eternal?
(Rebecca Theodore is a syndicated columnist based in Washington DC).