UN75 Observance

Secretary-General António Guterres makes remarks during the observance ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

To mark its 75th year, the United Nations eschewed the usual festivities to celebrate the milestone and opted instead to embark on a soul-searching journey asking people worldwide—through a one-minute survey and structured dialogues—what their hopes, fears, and priorities were for the future, and what role the UN could play in manifesting it. As Fabrizio Hochschild, the UN Special Adviser for the 75th Anniversary reasoned, rather than changing public opinion, “we should be letting public opinion change us.” In hindsight this was a fortuitous call, not least as the epochal year was marred by the relentless advance of COVID-19.

Over one million people participated in the UN-led consultation process, culminating in the UN75: The Future We Want, The UN We Need report, released in September at a special High Level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary. Although the UN Charter’s own preamble invokes that the UN is to be at the service of “We the Peoples,” the UN75 Report is, perhaps, the first time the world body has systematically sought out “the peoples” input in formulating the institution’s overall priorities and commitments (an earlier effort—the My World survey and report—was narrowly aimed at better understanding development priorities and contributed to the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals). Read more