UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal to address inequality across the world.
COVID-19 is a human tragedy. But it has also created a generational opportunity to build back a more equitable and sustainable world, said Guterres in his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture address, which was delivered virtually. “The response to the pandemic, and to the widespread discontent that preceded it, must be based on a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal that create equal opportunities for all and respect the rights and freedoms of all.”
This is the only way that the world will meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development — agreements that address precisely the failures that are being exposed and exploited by the pandemic, he said.
A New Social Contract within societies will tackle inequality, enable young people to live in dignity, will ensure women have the same prospects and opportunities as men, and will protect the sick, the vulnerable, and minorities of all kinds.
However, he said, the global political and economic system is not delivering on critical global public goods: public health, climate action, sustainable development, peace. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the tragic disconnect between self-interest and the common interest, and the huge gaps in governance structures and ethical frameworks.
“To close those gaps, and to make the New Social Contract possible, we need a New Global Deal to ensure that power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the international level.”
A new model for global governance must be based on full, inclusive and equal participation in global institutions, he said. “Without that, we face even wider inequality and gaps in solidarity, like those we see today in the fragmented global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Guterres’ address was delivered on Mandela Day, an international day in honor of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on July 18, Mandela’s birthday.