UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has 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, Xinhua news agency quoted Guterres as saying in his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture address, which was delivered virtually on Saturday.
“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 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.
“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 inequalities and gaps in solidarity, like those we see today in the fragmented global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In his address entitled “Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: a New Social Contract for a New Era,” Guterres said COVID-19 has laid bare risks that have been ignored for decades: inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection, structural inequalities, environmental degradation, the climate crisis.
The New Social Contract, between governments, people, civil society, business and more, must integrate employment, sustainable development and social protection, based on equal rights and opportunities for all.
A New Global Deal, based on a fair globalization, on the rights and dignity of every human being, on living in balance with nature, on taking account of the rights of future generations, and on success measured in human rather than economic terms, is the best way forward, said Guterres.
Meanwhile, illicit financial flows, money laundering and tax evasion must be prevented, he said, adding a global consensus to end tax havens is essential.