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The United Nations hosted a national conversation aiming to provide an opportunity for Malaysians to join the global conversation regarding the UN’s new direction moving forward titled, The Future We Want and The UN We Need. It focuses on global cooperation and partnership whilst also highlighting the three important documents namely the UN@75 Survey Report, the UN75 People’s Declaration and Plan for Global Action and Zero Draft of the UN75 Political Declaration by member states. A range of high This platform is also keen on listening in to the Malaysian perspectives on several global concerns ranging from human rights to environmental sustainability, and to strengthen Malaysia’s commitment towards multilateralism.

The program was kickstarted by an opening remark by Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Hishamuddin Hussein providing a recap on the current COVID-19 situation and that Malaysia pushes for a global ceasefire for nations to refocus its resources in combatting the pandemic and spoke of the need for an improved multilateralism. He concluded his remark by stating that it is high time for a United Nations reform to make it a more effective international organization and that these sorts of conversations are pertinent towards the objective.

Fabrizio Hochschild, the Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General then echoed the Foreign Minister’s ideas of multilateralism saying that unfortunately there is a diminishing spirit of international cooperation. He also mentioned about a global reality check where the UN ought to keep its head close to the ground, listening to what the people want. The COVID-19 pandemic further increases the digital divide where those who could connect benefitted, and those who couldn’t were left behind. This has intense ramifications as we enjoyed an increasing trend of upward social mobility, but this year we could see it reverse. He emphasized that we will endanger billions if do not get into grips of our current issues.

Eric Paulsen, representative of Malaysia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) added that COVID-19 together with the growth of nationalism, protectionism and isolationism is a threat to multilateralism. In a globalized world, human rights impacts and violations are more likely to transgress borders or have extraterritorial effect thus regional and international cooperation is key to ensuring people are protected from harm and now more than ever, we need collective action, international cooperation and renewed commitment to multilateralism. Speaking of equal rights, Jerald Joseph, Comissioner of SUHAKAM talked about equal rights and the recent Black Lives Matter protest should be a focal point for us to reflect nationwide where although we wish to paint a wonderful picture where everything is fine, we have to be honest with ourselves in which racism is still present in our social fabric. YB Maria Chin then spoke of not leaving anyone behind where Malaysia needs to revise its poverty level definition so its policies do not miss out a large chunk of those vulnerable to economic shocks caused by the pandemic. We need to review the labor market and provide upskilling and reskilling training to benefit the unemployed and underemployed and Tan Sri Dr. Sharifah Hapsah reiterated that gender equality still needs to be worked on although the gap has shrunk significantly since her female reformative movements in the 1970s but the gap is still there.

Date: 1st August 2020

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