September 12, 2023

In the face of widespread challenges to democracy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is evident that backsliding is universal and persistent. The United States, with its exceptional position of influence, has a crucial role to play in leading and collaborating with other nations to reverse these trends.

The U.S. can strengthen democracy at home, while also promoting it worldwide, through a combination of strength and humility. The potential of democracy to deliver positive outcomes at home and abroad cannot be underestimated. By leaning into these challenges, the U.S. can leverage its considerable assets to reshape the global narrative during these uniquely challenging times.

We confront a multitude of pressing issues, including the escalating climate crisis, intensifying geopolitical conflicts, setbacks in achieving the SDGs, mounting humanitarian crises, acute food insecurity, the rise of authoritarianism, erosion of non-proliferations norms, and the far-reaching economic and social consequences of a global pandemic. These challenges are further exacerbated by Russian aggression and the assertiveness of China on the global stage.

We support U.S. leadership through the UN that appeals to a broad cross-section of Americans.

Recommendations: U.S. Government Priorities for UNGA 78

1. Democracy Can Deliver: The United States commits to adopting a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to strengthen democracy both within its borders and globally. This approach encompasses a renewed dedication to advancing the SDGs, engaging multilateral financial institutions in relieving debt for the 100 poorest nations, shifting aid delivery to local actors, and fostering innovative cooperative security mechanisms beyond traditional peacekeeping missions. This holistic approach to people-centered sustainable development will help national leaders govern effectively, protect voting rights, promote campaign honesty, and uphold democratic integrity.

2. Endorse the SDG Agenda and Commit to Deliver Voluntary National Reviews–SDGs (VNRs): Despite setbacks, the United States should vocally endorse the SDG agenda and fulfill all SDG commitments—because we helped create them, they are a useful frame, and they will help U.S. bolster relations with the Global South in the UN context.

In line with its renewed commitment to the SDGs, the United States should pledge to present two VNRs by 2030. These reports should transparently convey the nation’s progress, highlighting successes, addressing challenges, and sharing lessons learned. This work by the U.S. government should actively collaborate with domestic partners, including cities and states, the private sector and universities, to strengthen the domestic VNR contributions. The efforts and numerous policies of this Administration provide the U.S. lots of good substance for the VNRs.

3. Enhancing Food Security at Home and Abroad: Building on its well-established track- record, significant role, and bipartisan support for promoting food security, the United States should commit to using every diplomatic means necessary to safeguard the uninterrupted flow of grains and fertilizers through the Black Sea agreement. Furthermore, to bolster its investments in food security, the U.S. will actively explore convening a global food security summit. This summit, with the active involvement of the private sector and nongovernmental organizations, will serve as a pivotal platform for innovative partnerships and catalyzing action to address the pressing food security challenges of our time.

4. Addressing Violations of the United Nations Charter: To uphold international norms and principles, the U.S. government must continue to take decisive action to reaffirm the UN Charter. By forging a broader coalition of nation-states willing to condemn violations of the Charter, especially in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States seeks to safeguard global public opinion and asserts it stance on this critical issue. The effort includes additional humanitarian and development resources for countries whose food security has been impacted by the war.

5. Mitigating the Climate Crisis: Recognizing that climate change poses a profound threat to global peace, food security, access to water, human migration and well-being, the United States reaffirms its dedication to environmental protection, including reducing CO2 emissions domestically and around the world while advancing efforts to protect biodiversity.

6. 75th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): In a resolute effort to confront the escalating challenges posed by rising authoritarianism, widespread abuses of women’s rights, violation of migration rights, and the erosion of the rule of law worldwide, the United States proudly reaffirms it unwavering commitment to advancing human rights. As we approach the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR and the 2024 Summit for the Future, with empathy and humility, the United States stands ready to partner with others to lead this effort. This leadership encompasses bringing a comprehensive approach that includes actively engaging the least developed countries, helping empower them on the pursuit of democracy, and ensuring that the values of the Declaration resonate loudly across the globe. It also includes a commitment to engage the next generation around the world and in the United States who have the most to gain or lose by how much we accomplish by 2030.

UNA-NCA Advisory Council*

Sam Worthington, Chair, UNA-NCA Advisory Council; former InterAction
Dan Baker, Accenture
Paula Boland, President, UNA-NCA
Esther Brimmer, former U.S. Department of State
Lindsay Coates, Center for Global Development
Jill Christianson, Board Chair, UNA-NCA
Judith Edstrom, former World Bank
Joi Edwards, Common Future
Shannon Hader, American University
Ambassador Michael Klosson, former Save the Children U.S.
Ambassador Sarah Mendelson, Carnegie Mellon University DC Chapter
Ambassador George Moose, George Washington University, former U.S. Institute of Peace
Mary Oakes Smith, American Foundation of Iraq, former World Bank
Ted Piccone, The Brookings Institution
Tony Pipa, The Brookings Institution
Richard Ponzio, Stimson Center
Noam Unger, Center for Strategic and International Studies

The UNA-NCA programs promote the SDGs in the DMV area, uplift human and women’s rights, provide educational programs on the environment and climate change, advocate to strengthen UN Peacekeeping and international law, run a Graduate Fellows Program, and engage local youth in its Model United Nations program. UNA-NCA board members involved in this effort include Tom Bradley, Brian Heilman, Olivia Hille, Thomas Liu, and Steve Moseley.

*Organizations listed solely for affiliation purposes

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