Informal Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly
On the Report of the Secretary General entitled, Our Common Agenda
New York, November 2, 2021
The Holy See is grateful to the President of the General Assembly for calling this informal plenary meeting to advance discussions on the Secretary-General’s report entitled Our Common Agenda, as well as to the Secretary-General for all of the consultations held and work undertaken in preparation of the Report.
Today’s meeting takes place just days after the 76th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter, reminding us once again that the Charter remains not only the bedrock of this intergovernmental organization, but is and must continue to be the guiding document for the UN as it faces challenges old and new.
As the Secretary-General describes in Our Common Agenda, there are indeed many challenges and genuine crises facing the international community today, from wars and armed conflicts in various regions of the world, to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the disastrous effects of climate change, widespread poverty and hunger, injustice and the denial of universal human rights, lack of education and healthcare, corruption and other leadership failures, the digital divide and a growing lack of trust and solidarity.
Pope Francis, in his 2015 Address to the General Assembly, called on the international community “to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all of these scourges.” In line with the Pope’s appeal, the Holy See expressed its support for the request by Member States in the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, for the Secretary-General to present “recommendations to advance our common agenda,” the common and shared aspirations of the United Nations.
The many suggestions presented in Our Common Agenda represent a bold attempt to meet common aspirations and address many challenges. As the Holy See continues its detailed study of the report, I will limit myself to a few observations:
First, the comprehensive nature of the report and its proposals warrant well-prepared discussions. The Holy See, therefore, encourages Member States to make timely decisions as to the most appropriate fora in which these discussions will take place, their format and outcomes, and the relationship between the various discussions. This will also avoid unintended controversies or consequences between, on the one hand, the valuable insights of the Secretary-General’s report, which is not a legal or intergovernmentally negotiated document, and a State-led process on the other.
Second, to meet the needs and the hopes of the world, the United Nations, which is essential for effective multilateralism, must be reformed and reinvigorated, as the Secretary-General indicates. The Holy See supports calls for greater efforts to advance UN revitalization and reform, in-line with existing processes and their mandates, led by Member States. The upgrade to “United Nations 2.0”, for which Our Common Agenda calls, should involve remedying inefficiencies and eliminating the bugs in its “operating system,” not supplanting that operating system.
Finally, the Secretary-General offers proposals that merit greater reflection, specifically those regarding future conferences, summits, plans and agendas. It would serve the General Assembly well if States are able to link these proposals to existing and on-going intergovernmental mechanisms and processes.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Our Common Agenda is a powerful presentation of the challenges that face the world today and lays out interesting proposals on what the international community might do to meet those needs.
The Holy See assures this Assembly and the Secretary-General of our interest in upcoming discussions and will engage constructively so that the Agenda may be truly common and globally shared.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Pope Francis, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015.