To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the United Nations (UN) launched a global conversation in January 2020 – the UN75 Initiative – consulting 1.5 million people in 193 countries, and reflecting on their hopes and fears for the future, and their views of international cooperation. The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies collaborated with the UN75 Initiative, seconding Global Governance Centre senior researcher, Dr. Cecilia Cannon to the United Nations to serve as academic advisor – to engage the academic and policy research communities globally, and to manage the analysis and reporting of UN75 data received across 2020.
In June 2021, the UN Development Programme, working with Dr. Cannon, finalised the UN75 data portal, which makes all UN75 data and analyses publically available. The data portal includes interactive data visualizations, and five data sets:
Global UN75 survey – 1.3 million responses, capturing people’s priorities for recovering from the pandemic, longer-term priorities, and views of international cooperation;
UN75 Dialogues – 1,142 dialogue summaries from 94 countries, received from over 3,000 dialogues held in classrooms, boardrooms, parliaments, think tanks and community groups;
Independent public opinion polling – Polling of a representative sample of 50,000 people in 50 countries, conducted by Edelman Intelligence and Pew Research Centre;
Media analysis – Analysis of print, broadcast, online and social media in 70 countries, conducted by Edelman Intelligence;
Academic and policy research mapping – A database of 700+ publications, catalogued by topic, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian publications.
The data portal also hosts the official UN75 reports, including the final report “Shaping our future together: Key findings of UN75 survey and dialogues,” published in January 2021 by the UN75 Office, in collaboration with the Graduate Institute. A product of quantitative and qualitative analysis of UN75 data collected between January and November 2020 in all 193 UN Member States, it provides a snapshot of global opinion at a turbulent time for the world, as well as concrete priorities and recommendations for improving international cooperation in the next decades.
Dr. Cannon led the data analysis and authorship of all three UN75 reports, with support from Graduate Institute researchers: Till Fust, Catherine Monagle, Eva Bortolotti, Meaghan Keenan Haff, Negar Mansouri, Dario Piselli and Chi Xu, as well as external research consultants and with guidance from Pew Research Centre. In the final UN75 report, the Graduate Institute’s Global Governance Centre worked with the Institute for Economics and Peace and the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index team, to cross-analyse the UN75 survey data with the Global Peace Index and the Human Development Index.
The results show that as COVID-19 widened inequalities and caused global setbacks in human development, many respondents prioritized access to basic services and support to the hardest hit places and communities. This included tackling shortages in access to healthcare, education and safe water, with many respondents, especially in low and middle-income countries, also prioritizing global solidarity and addressing inequalities.
Climate change and environmental issues were identified by respondents in all regions as the number one longer-term global threat, particularly in Europe, Latin America and North America, where more than 70% of respondents listed this as a top threat. While respondents in higher human development countries gave greater priority to the environment and human rights, those in lower human development countries focused more on reducing conflict and meeting basic needs, such as employment, healthcare and education. Health-related risks and situations of armed conflict were seen as major threats in all territories, and up to 40% of respondents in countries with the lowest levels of peace chose more respect for human rights as the top long-term priority.
The report also shows that confidence in international cooperation increased during the pandemic for 50% of respondents. While the UN is credited for its promotion of human rights and peace, only around half of respondents agree that the institution deals effectively with international issues or cares enough about the needs of ordinary people. In order to bridge this gap, the report shows public demand for greater gender equality, more engagement with public & private actors, including youth, and other areas of reform at the United Nations, including increased transparency and accountability, changes to the Security Council, the UN Charter, and for the UN to step into its role as global, moral leader.
Dr. Cannon also led the authorship of two earlier UN75 reports – The Future We Want, the United Nations We Need, which the Secretary-General presented to Member States at the official September 2020 commemoration of the United Nations' 75th anniversary; and preliminary findings that were made available to Member States in April 2020, as they negotiated the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, adopted in the General Assembly in September 2021. The Secretary-General is considering the final UN75 data and analyses in preparation of his recommendations on how the United Nations will address the UN75 Declaration's 12 priority areas of work, to be presented to Member States in September 2021.