We live in a threshold moment, a liminal space in human history where the world we have known is dying and a new one is yet to be born. During this unsettling interregnum, the multilateral governance system expected to help us navigate the ongoing state of reconfiguration  Villanueva, Idoia. A More Multipolar but not more Democratic International Scenario: The Geopolitical (dis)Order of a World in Reconfiguration, Metapolis V3N2, October 2022.Available here: https://metapolis.net/project/a-more-multipolar-but-not-more-democratic-international-scenario-the-geopolitical-disorder-of-a-world-in-reconfiguration/ is under severe stress. Imaginaries such as the much-flouted rule-based international order and other single normative narratives that presided over its creation nearly eight decades ago are proving woefully inadequate for the interlocking and complex economic, ecological and security emergencies of our time. Unable to imagine new narratives, understandings and arrangements, the system’s effectiveness and legitimacy have waned over the years and, as a result, lost the trust of people living in nations big and small, in particular those that did not participate in its creation. Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations declared that multilateralism was lying on its deathbed.  Statement by Amb. Martin Kimani, during the Security Council Urgent Meeting on the Situation in Ukrainea, 21 February 2022. Available here: https://www.un.int/kenya/sites/www.un.int/files/Kenya/kenya_statement_during_urgent_meeting_on_on_ukraine_21_february_2022_at_2100.pdf A nail to its coffin has been recently added after a divided UN Security Council failed on four occasions to act in the face of the horrifying violence in the Palestinian Occupied Territory, prompting the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to hold an emergency special session and pass a non-binding resolution on the matter. Time will tell whether the Council’s subsequent adoption of a resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors through the Gaza Strip will redeem its dented credibility.
The current 78th session of the UNGA convened under these and other inauspicious circumstances, was charged with rebuilding  Letter from President elect of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 29 June 2023. Available here: https://www.un.org/pga/77/wp-content/uploads/sites/105/2023/07/Letter-from-President-elect-of-the-78th-session-of-the-United-Nations-General-Assembly-Theme-for-the-78th-session-of-the-United-Nations-General-Assembly.pdf trust in the multilateral system and reigniting global solidarity, which is approaching a danger zone.  Global Solidarity Report 2023. Available here: https://www.democracywithoutborders.org/29725/new-report-global-solidarity-in-a-danger-zone/ Now that the high-level week of the Assembly and related summits have come and gone, many observers are wondering whether Member States have measured up to expectations  STEWART, Patrick & MIHN-TU, Pham. Five Things to Watch for at the UN General Assembly Opening, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. September 14, 2023. Available here: https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/09/14/five-things-to-watch-for-at-un-general-assembly-opening-pub-90563 and produced the level of energy and commitments needed to lay the transformative foundations for next year’s Summit of the Future (Sept 2024). The Summit was called for by the UN SG in his September 2021 “Our Common Agenda” report for the purpose of forging “a new global consensus on what the future should look like and what we can do today to secure it.”  Our Common Agenda, Report of the Secretary-General. United Nations, New York. Available here: https://www.un.org/en/content/common-agenda-report/assets/pdf/Common_Agenda_Report_English.pdf The Summit is expected to provide concrete answers on how to reinforce the cooperative “frameworks that are necessary to move us from the path to destruction to the path to prosperity”.These frameworks “must be […] grounded on trust, solidarity and universality”, the SG further expounded in the New Agenda for Peace (NAfP).
The Summit has been hailed by a number of eminent persons as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help restore trust in multilateral cooperation in a world with long-simmering rivalries and competing visions over the future trajectory of the international order.  PRIYAL, SINGH, As global powers seek support for their competing worldviews, will Africa capitalise on its rising strategic value? Institute for Security Studies, 30 Aug 20222. Available here: https://issafrica.org/iss-today/africa-has-a-rare-chance-to-shape-the-international-order
The Pact is expected to be negotiated and endorsed by countries in the lead-up to and during the Summit. To facilitate the preparatory intergovernmental work for the summit, the UN SG provided Member States with 11 policy briefs, including a proposal for a New Agenda for Peace (NAfP) with five key messages and outlines reforms for the UN’s fracturing multilateral governance. The UN SG hopes to see a future version of a new agenda for peace as one of the outcomes of the Summit.  Summit of the Future: What would it deliver? United Nations. Available here: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/our-common-agenda-summit-of-the-future-what-would-it-deliver.pdf
In addition to the NAfP and the report of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism (HLAB), numerous policy briefs, reports, studies and essays were also widely disseminated and debated ahead and in the margins of the GA high-level week. They all call to varying degrees for fresh thinking and normative and policy shifts to revitalise or strengthen the multilateral system. Some are of the view that the UN, for all its flaws, remains an indispensable forum  MINH-THU, Pham, UN Expert on the Institution’s Successes, Failures, and Continued Relevance, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sept 21, 2023. Available here: https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/09/21/un-expert-on-institution-s-successes-failures-and-continued-relevance-pub-90610 for dialogue and action on global political, security and development issues, especially for developing countries often excluded from minilateral clubs such as the G20 or the expanding BRICS.  STEWART, Patrick, & KLEIN, Emma, United Nations, Divided World, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. September 28, 2023. Available here: https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/09/28/united-nations-divided-world-pub-90659?utm_source=ctw&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=buttonlink&mkt_tok=ODEzLVhZVS00MjIAAAGOfOPGFsfLdgVeoWeVUVcxD6SNK7-e4g0EXTvLjLhPG8QlLCL2eRQd8Ot01OmZm-1F57_jvS1TGfxtDrV3jVIva6EaCJfaJLqbOg0pF7UeOQ Others believe that the time for incremental structural reforms has long passed. Even if agreed and enacted, these reforms are likely to keep in place a deteriorating global governance system with diminishing effectiveness and legitimacy.
Yet, at this time of geopolitical disorder and entrenched divisions and interests, others view the hope for deeper structural change as fanciful. While international cooperation and multilateralism are at a historic low, it’s an open question, they contend, whether a Charter negotiated now would rise to the level of ambition of the current Charter. The Security Council is often cited as an entity in need of an overhaul. The prospects for such a transformational change are also judged dim,  DAYAL, Anjali, & DUNTON, Caroline, The U.N. Security Council Was Designed for Deadlock — Can it Change? United States Institute of Peace. Available here: https://www.usip.org/publications/2023/03/un-security-council-was-designed-deadlock-can-it-change short of a major geopolitical shock akin to the one that impelled the creation of the current multilateral system, including the UN. The Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel, the unfolding climate disasters and other ruptures were judged not sufficiently galvanising as geopolitical tipping points to bring about such an outcome.
The UN, so far, has changed under the pressure of external events. There is now a growing consensus that if it wants to remain relevant, it must lean into the future and start changing by design rather than by accident. The question before us is what needs to be done to help ensure that the Summit of the Future lives up to its touted transformational potential and helps the United Nations become the organisation that wants to be born,  The Future We Want: The United Nations We Need, September 2020. Available here: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/2020/09/un75report_september_final_english.pdf fit for delivering global public goods and serving as a catalyst for bringing about an equitable, just, humane and democratic global governance system. Short of this, those who fear that the most likely outcome of the Summit would be laudable words on a page would be proven right.
This paper offers some action points and process suggestions on what could be done to make this undesirable outcome less likely. The points are designed to support the collective leadership of those member states entrusted with the intergovernmental negotiations of the Pact, planting the seeds of hope that a transformed UN could rise in these times when the world seems unmoored and in turmoil. In formulating these suggestions, the paper draws on the cornucopia of innovative ideas generated by the above-mentioned policy briefs and a multitude of civil society inputs.  Declaration of the Global People’s Assembly 2023. New York, 18 September 2023. Available here:
https://gcap.global/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/GPA-Declaration-2023.pdf?utm_source=Stimson+Center&utm_campaign=47a8875824-GGIN-Update%2FGlobalGov%2FUN+Day+GGIN+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_-47a8875824-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D It also draws on insights from complexity theory, thinking systems practices and the three-horizon foresight tool  Three Horizons, International Future Forum. Available here: https://www.internationalfuturesforum.com/three-horizons to reflect on current assumptions, emerging changes, and possible and desired futures. The process points suggested in this paper are also inspired by the work of pathfinders who know how to lead in uncertain times and how to treat the collapse of current regimes  MACHADO DE OLIVEIRA, Vanessa, Hospicing Modernity: Facing Humanity’s Wrongs and the Implications for Social Activism, North Atlantic Books, Sept 2021. as a gestation period or compost for their renegotiation or replacement.
Due to limited space, the action points will focus primarily on reform and possible transformation of the international peace and security system that fall under chapters 2 and 5 of the Pact.
Ensure bottom-up conversations are generative and future-anchored
In his October 2023 letter to the co-facilitators of the preparatory process for the Summit of the Future, the President of the 78th UNGA requested that all relevant stakeholders participate and engage meaningfully in this process. Germany and Namibia, entrusted with facilitating the intergovernmental negotiations leading up to the outcome document “A Pact for the Future”, sent a letter  Letter available here: https://www.un.org/pga/78/wp-content/uploads/sites/108/2023/10/Co-Facs-letter-SOTF_informal-consultations-Nov_decfinal.pdf to member states outlining the schedule of informal consultations on the various chapters of the Pact. On 13 November, the co-facilitators invited major groups and other stakeholders, as well as civil society, to a virtual consultation on 13 December 2023 and announced plans for the UN civil society conference to take place in May 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya.  Letter available here: https://mcusercontent.com/58c42baf66eb872b48c3bc796/files/6f8f9506-d07f-1b7d-7a29-7fc47f0d586d/SOTF_Co_Facs_Letter_MGoS_and_Civil_Society_13_Nov_2023_1_.pdf
On 12 September, the UNGA decided that the theme of the Summit of the Future shall be “multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow.”  Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2022. Available here: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/A_RES_76_307.pdf To ensure that these hybrid consultations lay the foundations for a transformative Pact, it is highly recommended that they be generative, with visions of the future serving as a starting point. Generative in the sense that these conversations should engage in fresh thinking, probing the assumptions,  CHATTOPADHYAY, Sahana, “Holding Space” for Generative Conversations, Medium, Dec 11, 2019. Available here: https://medium.com/age-of-emergence/holding-space-for-generative-conversations-78bcf9d9bf84 biases, and deeply held beliefs that have informed the work of multilateralism and discern the ones that are no longer fit for purpose. The conversations should also engage in future-back thinking as a way of disrupting the present and generating visionary aspirations for a United Nations that is fit for a radically different world.
Starting with a vision of the future breaks away from the present-forward thinking approach that tends to focus on what needs to be done to fix existing broken systems. Once a “better UN future” is re-imagined,  A Second Charter, Imagining a Renewed United Nations, Global Governance Forum, 2023-2024. Available here: https://globalgovernanceforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SecondCharter_Imagining-Renewed-United-Nations.pdf a consensus will then be developed around the options or the “solutions” that need to be explored in the present and under the various chapters of the Pact to make that future a reality. On the part of the conversation participants, this back-casting exercise requires fearless imagination, open curiosity and deep listening, characteristics that challenge inherited ways of thinking and resist offering “solutions” that might unwittingly extend the lifespan of a problematic present—one whose expiry date may have long passed.
For these bottom-up conversations to yield the expected generative and transformative results and have a catalytic impact beyond the Summit, they should not be treated merely as fora for consultations on an already agreed Pact draft. Genuine listening motivated by the desire to reflect the views of civil society in the formulation of the Pact should be the overarching approach.
Such outreach and consultations with civil society through which imagined futures are leveraged to transform the present. They could also be initiated by individual member states as part of a national listening exercise, as suggested by the UN SG in his “Our Common Agenda”. If properly facilitated, these national consultations could go a long way towards strengthening a culture of genuine multilateral cooperation and a sense of solidarity and trust across the societies in which they are embedded.
In curating the outcomes of these conversations, every effort should be made to ensure that the voices of youth, the custodians of the future, are properly reflected and that these youth and the young women among them are afforded the space for meaningful participation in the Summit, as foreseen by the modalities announced by the UNGA.  Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2022. Available here: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/A_RES_76_307.pdf
Other pathways for unleashing the transformational potential of the Summit
Parallel to or enriched by the outcome of the above people-generated dialogues, a coalition of like-hearted and like-minded member states and UN officials and staff could engage in similar conversations in the margins of or as part of the intergovernmental negotiation processes aimed at facilitating agreement on a meaningful Pact of the Future. To help ensure that the text paves the way for transformative change and not only recommitment to or repairing what exists -important as these are- the following additional steps are suggested. As alluded to above, these steps are inspired by the work of conscious systems entrepreneurs  CHRISTIAN WAHL, Daniel, The Three Horizons of innovation and culture change, Medium, Jun 7, 2017. Available here: https://medium.com/activate-the-future/the-three-horizons-of-innovation-and-culture-change-d9681b0e0b0f and the imaginal cells among them who, as they coalesce and multiply, help a collapsing system gradually transit from breakdown to breakthrough and regeneration.
1. Help the system see its cracks so the light gets in
Unable to adapt and transform in the face of mounting global challenges, the United Nations as a complex system  COOK, Richard, How Complex Systems Fail, HindSight 31, Winter 2020-2021. Available here: https://skybrary.aero/sites/default/files/bookshelf/5926.pdf kept revealing over the past decade’s internal contradictions and systemic and normative cracks that can no longer be papered over or managed through incremental change or reforms. Yet in both Our Common Agenda and the New Agenda for Peace, the SG kept inviting us to observe the multiple gaps in the existing multilateral system and offering recommendations for future solutions without interrogating the outdated and, at times, hegemonic assumptions and worldviews informing the system.
Some of the systemic cracks and gaps outlined in the NAfP could benefit from the generative systems entrepreneurship approach outlined above. Under the overarching heading of “normative challenge”, the Secretary-General laments the violation of international law and the erosion of human rights and other international frameworks. These normative gaps, in his view, pose a potentially existential dilemma for the United Nations “when the different interpretations by Member States of universal normative frameworks become so entrenched as to prevent adequate implementation”. To solve this dilemma, he proposes “rebuilding consensus on the meaning of and adherence to these frameworks as an essential task for the international system”.
A generative, honest conversation would dig deeper into the diagnosis and discuss whether the proposed solutions would lead to transforming these frameworks or entrench their inherent contradictions and their contested normative moorings.
In a separate section of the report, the SG mentions the growing backlash against women’s rights and calls for “the dismantling of the patriarchy and oppressive power structures which stand in the way of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political and public life”. Unlike the prescriptions for addressing the normative challenge, this proposal carries the seeds of transformation and can benefit from the thought leadership of key entrepreneurial member states supported by some think tanks and young women’s associations who have begun focusing on some of the innovative steps  DONELLY, Phoebe, WPS in the New Agenda for Peace: Seeing Patriarchy but Missing Innovation, IPI Global Observatory, September 11, 2023. Available here: https://theglobalobservatory.org/2023/09/wps-in-the-new-agenda-for-peace-seeing-patriarchy-but-missing-innovation/ that can help the sprouting of these seeds, for which the Pact should serve as fertile ground.
Another major systemic fissure or gap that could benefit from a genuine regenerative conversation is the dysfunctional structure of the UN Security Council, which has become more pronounced during this time of deep geopolitical fractures among its veto-wielding permanent members, as evidenced by its paralysis in the face of the raging Israeli-Hamas war. The reasons for this dysfunction are well-known and legion,  FRIEDMAN, Uri, How the UN Security Council Can Reinvent Itself, The Atlantic, July 7, 2022. Available here: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/07/un-security-council-russia-ukraine/661501/ as are the competing plans for its reform.  GOULD, M., RABLEN, M.D. Reform of the United Nations Security Council: equity and efficiency. Public Choice 173, 145–168 (2017). Available here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-017-0468-2https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11127-017-0468-2 The most recent proposal is contained in the NAfP where the UN SG emphasises the urgent need for a Security Council “more representative of the geopolitical realities of today, and of the contributions that different parts of the world make to global peace”, as well as a “genuine democratisation of its working methods”. With respect to structural reform, the NAfP recommends that “urgent progress” be made in the intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform in the General Assembly. This process, which began in 2008, has yet to make clear progress. Global perspectives on the likelihood of such progress in the near future are not optimistic.  STEWART, PATRICK, SITHEMBILE MBETE, MATIAS SPEKTOR, ZHANG GUIHONG, ALEXANDRA NOVOSSELOFF, CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN, ROHAN MUKHERJEE, PHILLIP Y. LIPSCY, MIGUEL RUIZ CABAÑAS IZQUIERDO, ADEKEYE ADEBAJO, ANDREY KOLOSOVSKIY, JOEL NG, PRIYAL SINGH, BARÇIN YINANÇ, RICHARD GOWAN, ANJALI DAYAL, UN Security Council Reform: What the World Thinks, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 28, 2023. Available at: https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/06/28/un-security-council-reform-what-world-thinks-pub-90032#:~:text=In%20October%202008%2C%20the%20UN,never%20agreed%20to%20negotiate%20on
A generative conversation among systems change entrepreneurs, and their imaginal cell allies would not necessarily use the above cursory state of play as a starting point for transforming the Security Council. In looking deeper and listening with humility, the starting point could address the myth  HELAL, Mohamed S.l, The Myth of U.N. Collective Security, 32 Emory Int’l L. Rev. Recent Dev. 1063 (2018). Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/eilr-recent-developments/9/ that the Council was designed by the framers of the Charter as a collective security mechanism. It is not. It is a tool for selective security  NADIN, Peter, What the UN Security Council Is Not, Our World, United Nations University, Apr 2014. Available at: https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/what-the-un-security-council-is-not whose primary aim is maintaining peaceful relations between the most powerful states in the international system. To incentivise these states to both join the United Nations and remain within the organisation, the Charter granted them permanent membership on the Council and endowed them with the ability to veto any proposed action that they deemed would threaten or jeopardise their security or interests: “The veto is viewed to be a power unrestrained by law.”  HELAL, Mohamed S.l, The Myth of U.N. Collective Security, 32 Emory Int’l L. Rev. Recent Dev. 1063 (2018). Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/eilr-recent-developments/9/
https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/research-reports/the-penholder-system.php This has added grist to the mill of those who find it untenable that 5 member states that won WWII, some of whom are instigating crises, should wield more power than the rest of the membership in the context of a radically changed world and a Charter that prescribes the much debated sovereign equality of all nations large and small.
Once the cobwebs around this myth are out in the open and their implications are understood, UN member states may need to make an informed judgment as to whether shifting the power away from the P5 or adding new permanent members would be the appropriate entry point for enhancing multilateral actions for dealing more effectively with pressing international peace and security issues. They might come to the realization that it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick system, to paraphrase J. Krishnamurti. Thus, they may decide that the time has come to shift the conversation away from the obsession with reforming a dysfunctional entity that has become an insecurity Council  MURITI, Tim. Rethinking Humanitarianism. What could an alternative to the UN look like? The New Humanitarian Podcast, 5 October 2022. Available at: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/podcast/2022/10/05/How-to-reform-the-UN-Security-Council&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1702297957312072&usg=AOvVaw0fDK_NHYLe5ffvlrk6RI1o to imagining a new collective, not selective, security model. Just as it takes the total disintegration of the caterpillar’s structure in order to create a butterfly—it may take the complete breakdown of the present system before a better future dawns.
In order to hospice what is breaking down and midwife what needs to replace it, three simultaneous catalytic processes are required. The first is to nurture the innovative self-corrections the international system has improvised over the years to repair its cracks. The second is to interrogate, unlearn and let go of the dominant epistemic and ontological narratives informing some of the paradigms and frameworks whose universality can no longer be taken for granted. The third is to initiate a transformation process before the global order moorings implode and the system irretrievably hits the shores of irrelevance.
2. Nurture reforms and innovations as stepping stones towards transformation
Engaging in people-centric generative conversations and helping the UN patiently diagnose and contemplate its cracks are critical first steps towards creating systemic self-renewal and transformation conditions. To better leverage the outcomes of these two strategies, a deliberate collective effort is needed to nurture the multiple ways in which the organisation, as a complex system, has attempted over the years to improve its inherent ability to renew itself without resorting to a review of its Charter. This pragmatic approach is informed by the view that structural change should be gradual, and any additional innovations or repairs should build on and safeguard the hard-won reform gains while recommitting to the values and principles enshrined in the present Charte—that still benefit from the adherence to the overwhelming majority of the UN membership. This does not mean giving up on transformational change, but rather, in the face of an obdurate international system, secure what seems to be working and hold space for additional repairs, which, as they coalesce, become seeds for new future paradigms—that would eventually make old ones irrelevant or obsolete. In this connection, it is incumbent on the system entrepreneurs to ensure that the collapsing system does not coopt these seeds to justify its continued relevance.
The General Assembly’s innovative inroads in the area of peace and security illustrate the above argument. The Assembly, as commonly known, has had a long-standing ad-hoc working group charged with identifying ways to further enhance its role, authority, effectiveness and efficiency. Over the years, it has made commendable advances  Outcomes of resolutions on revitalization, General Assembly of the United Nations. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/ga/revitalization/outcomes.shtml towards the revitalization of its work. In the area of international peace and security, the Assembly played, most recently, a critical role in the uniting for peace resolution, which is activated whenever the Security Council fails to exercise its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. In addition to the above, the Assembly has undertaken several notable normative and procedural innovations that would benefit from the nurturing approach outlined above.
One of these is the landmark resolution, adopted in April 2022, aimed at holding the five Permanent Security Council members accountable for the use of the veto. By the text of the resolution, which was adopted without a vote, the Assembly decided that its President shall convene a formal meeting of the 193‑member organ within 10 working days of the casting of a veto by one or more permanent members of the Council and hold a debate on the situation to which the veto was cast, provided that the Assembly does not meet in an emergency special session on the same situation. Further, the Assembly invited the Council, in accordance with Article 24 (3) of the Charter of the United Nations, to submit a special report on the use of the veto in question to the Assembly at least 72 hours before the relevant discussion is to take place. As intimated earlier, the above processes were activated most recently  Letter from the President of the General Assembly – Security Council Report on the use of the veto at the 9442nd meeting of the Security Council. 24 Oct 2023. Available at: https://www.un.org/pga/78/2023/10/24/letter-from-the-president-of-the-general-assembly-security-council-report-on-the-use-of-the-veto-at-the-9442nd-meeting-of-the-security-council/ when the veto was used under the agenda item “The Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question”.
Since its adoption in April 2022, the veto resolution, despite its uneven application, has enabled the General Assembly to aspire to a more robust role in matters of peace and security when the Council fail. Some have argued  BLAIS, Louise, The First Step Toward World Peace? Fix the UN. Pass Blue, October 30, 2023. Available at: https://www.passblue.com/2023/10/30/the-first-step-toward-world-peace-fix-the-un/?utm_source=PassBlue+List&utm_campaign=1da935e948-RSS_PassBlue&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4795f55662-1da935e948-55009193 that the General Assembly needs to go further and pass an existential resolution that would give it precedence over the Council in times of conflict.
Pending this radical transformative step, serious thought should be given to the recommendation by the SG in the NAfP calling, under the sub-heading “Revitalization of the General Assembly” for the Assembly to put forward measures for the peaceful settlement of any situation that it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations.
When we are stuck in the same patterns of thought, knowledge and behaviour that led to our problems, we are unlikely to find a way out of it all.
The above systemic innovations, many initiated by small states, and similar ones introduced by elected members of the Security Council to improve the working methods of the Security Council,  Open debate on Implementation of Note 507: Working methods. Statement on behalf of the 10 Elected Members of the Security Council to be delivered by Ambassador Hernan Perez Loose, Permanent Representative of Ecuador, May 2023. Available at: https://www.un.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/jointstatement090523.html must be valued and cultivated as steadying ballast in these times of systemic turbulence and radical uncertainty. They constitute a critical component of a gestation period that could go awry if not properly steered towards system renegotiation and transformation. In this regard, the vigilance and collective leadership of small states is critical and should not be underestimated.
3. Unlearning and relearning: navigating epistemic and ontological transitions
Albert Einstein famously said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. This essentially means that when we are stuck in the same patterns of thought, knowledge and behaviour that led to the problems we are facing, we are unlikely to find a way out of it all. Most of these patterns, which dictate our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with each other and the world around us, remain steeped in single narratives about how the world should be ordered, policies governed, nature harnessed, economies developed and peace and security built.
Building foundations for transformative change would not be possible without disentangling ourselves from the above epistemological and ontological certainties. This entails unlearning what we know and entering a liminal space where we no longer belong to the old identity. This state of unknowing, while unnerving, opens us to learn alternative ways of knowing, being and doing that may have been displaced by hegemonic, top-down paradigms judged to be universal. To paraphrase futurist Alvin Toffler, the illiterate of the 21st century are those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.  TOFFLER, Alvin, Future Shock (1984). New York: Bantam Books.
One aspect that can benefit from this process of unlearning and relearning is the notion of peace so central to the work of the UN. Even though we are beginning to understand what drives people to work for it,  KILLELEA, Steve, (2021). Peace In The Age Of Chaos: The Best Solution For A Sustainable Future. Chicago: One Tree Films. peace remains largely an elusive goal. Its fortunes continue to be tied to the presence or absence of violent conflict. Attempts to value its importance tend to be conveyed through counting the costs of war.
One of the reasons for this enduring negative appreciation of peace is the proposition that if we can gain a sophisticated enough understanding of what drives violence we will be able to better foster and sustain peace. This linear assumption of peace continues to inform the practice of UN peacebuilding, largely conceived as time-bound, exogenous interventions solely relevant to unstable contexts. While such interventions may calm the ravages of conflict, numerous studies have shown that all they produce is a modicum of stability often mistaken for peace.
In light of these deficits,  NEWMAN, Edward, PARIS, Roland, RICHMOND, Oliver P. (2009). New Perspectives on Liberal Peacebuilding. Tokyo: United Nations University Press. researchers, policymakers and practitioners have been calling to make room for decolonial peace and for multiple understandings of peace, conceived in a majority of societies as the norm of human life, not the exception. Likened to a tree that grows from the bottom, peace is experienced as an ongoing quest, the doors to which open only from the inside. A quest that is motivated by the humility to learn from what still works well in societies under stress and to respect that these societies, however broken they may appear, are not blank pages and their peoples are not projects. On the contrary, they have knowledge and agency, not just needs waiting to be fulfilled by well-meaning outsiders.  MAHMOUD, Youssef, & ALBERT, Mbiatem (2021). Whose Peace Are We Building?: Leadership for Peace in Africa. London: I.B. Tauris.
Unless we pluralise our understanding of peace,  MAHMOUD, Youssef, A New Agenda for Peace: Making Peace Plural and Healing Historical Traumas. IPI Global Observatory, Apr 2023. Available at: https://theglobalobservatory.org/2023/04/a-new-agenda-for-peace-making-peace-plural-and-healing-historical-traumas/ a task that could be entrusted to the Peacebuilding Commission, and rethink the ways we analyse and build peace in conflict contexts, the UN will continue to prioritise securitised stabilisation as a default solution with little self-sustainable peace to show for it.
Such an unlearning and relearning and the space it creates for epistemic and ontological  FITZGERALD, Garret, Pluriversal Peacebuilding: Peace Beyond Epistemic and Ontological Violence. E-International Relations, Nov 27, 2021. Available at: https://www.e-ir.info/2021/11/27/pluriversal-peacebuilding-peace-beyond-epistemic-and-ontological-violence/ freedom and diversification could equally apply to other pillars of the UN’s work, be it in the sustainable development, humanitarian or climate emergency fields. All of these endeavours are beholden to a mindset designed to address the symptoms but not the root of the institutional failures and the spurious knowledge systems underpinning them, including the monomyth of growthism and the disastrous social, economic and ecological divides it has spawned.
The above conveys that subverting what we know and embracing other epistemologies that have been othered will help us transition to a pluriversal world without a centre or margins, a multiverse world made up of multiple worlds. Pluriversality  KOTHARI, Ashis, SALLEH, Ariel, ESCOBAR, Arturo, DEMARIA, Federico, & ACOSTA, Alberto, Pluriverse, A Post-development Dictionary (2019). New Delhi: Tulika Books. Available at: https://www.ehu.eus/documents/6902252/12061123/Ashish+Kothari+et+al-Pluriverse+A+Post-Development+Dictionary-2019.pdf/c9f05ea0-d2e7-8874-d91c-09d11a4578a2 thus becomes a gateway to regenerative futures that work for all and, in the short term, might address the normative challenge that the UN SG laments in the NAfP.
4. Midwifing transformation: a litmus test for the Summit
Harnessing the outcomes of people-centred, generative conversations, helping a stressed system contemplate its cracks, recommitting to what still works, valuing and nurturing curative reforms and engaging in unlearning and relearning are catalytic processes which, when simultaneously and aptly deployed, could lay the foundations for system’s transformation.
Transformation is not incremental change. It is the death of the obsolete and the birth of the new.  KUNKEL, Petra, & RAGNARSDOTTIR, Kristine V., (2022), Transformation Literacy. Pathways to Regenerative Civilizations. Cham: Springer. Available at: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-93254-1#toc The processes outlined above provide us with the wisdom needed to hospice what must pass and birth what is waiting to emerge. Properly harnessed, this wisdom would enable systems entrepreneurs to leverage the fractious geopolitical realities of today and the existential planetary tipping points as sobering entry points for initiating transformative change. It would also allow them to activate the self-renewal mechanisms foreseen in the system’s act of creation.
In the case of the United Nations, this self-correcting mechanism is enshrined in Article 109 of its Charter. It stipulates that a Charter review can be called by “a two-thirds vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any nine members of the Security Council”.
As alluded to above, much has been written about this article and the pros and cons of activating it. Those against it remind us of the least quoted sobering part of Article 109, which states, “Any alteration of the present Charter recommended by a two-thirds vote of the conference shall take effect when ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the Members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council”. (italics added). This is admittedly a tall order given the historical realities that presided over the creation of the Council, the myth surrounding its work and the ongoing bitter rivalries among its permanent members.
In light of the above and fearing that an overall review of the Charter might be long overdrawn and costly and might distract the organisation from other equally pressing emergencies, the High-Level Advisory on Multilateralism (HLAB) recommended that “The Summit of the Future is an opportunity to reaffirm our common commitment to the UN Charter and announce a Charter Review conference focused on Security Council reform.”  Peace and Prevention. Empower Equitable, Effective Collective Security Arrangements, High-Level Advisory on Multilateralism (HLAB), 2022. Available at: https://highleveladvisoryboard.org/breakthrough/pdf/highleveladvisoryboard_breakthrough_Shift5.pdf
While I agree with those who have argued that the focus of the Charter review needs to be broader,  A Second Charter, Imagining a Renewed United Nations, Global Governance Forum, 2023-2024. Available at: https://globalgovernanceforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/SecondCharter_Imagining-Renewed-United-Nations.pdf no reform of other organs would have far-reaching consequences for the future relevance of the United Nations than a reform of the Security Council. If the Summit, under Chapters 2 or 5 of the Pact, concurs with this HLAB’s recommendation, it might breathe new life into the stultified intergovernmental process looking into the reform of the Council. More importantly, such a Charter review would create a regenerative space for the other catalytic processes outlined above to take root and even flourish.
The action points outlined in this paper, calling for recommitting to what is working, reforming what is not and interrogating the anachronistic assumptions informing the current system’s structures, they are all self-reinforcing and must be pursued simultaneously.  LOPEZ-CLAROS, Augusto, & PERELL, Daniel, UN Reform: Three Paths Forward. Global Governance Forum, Oct 26, 2023. Available at: https://globalgovernanceforum.org/un-reform-three-paths-forward/ By themselves, however, they will not make headway towards transformation if the Pact does not, at a minimum, endorse the recommendation of HLAB on Charter review. Such an endorsement would trigger the difficult but necessary conversation on the palliative care the Council should receive pending its transformation or replacement and make room for the majority of member states to continue exploring the role of parallel inter-governmental fora for maintaining international peace and security. It will also create an incentive for the United Nations as a whole to gradually and proactively move from what is to what if. For this to happen, the generative leadership of the Pact’s co-facilitators supported by like-minded and like-hearted member states is critical. Without such leadership, the Summit of the Future may not measure up to its transformative potential. In this scenario, the goals of addressing the trust, universality and solidarity deficits plaguing the United Nations will remain elusive.
Disheartening as the above prospect may sound, it does not have to be an inevitable outcome. A better outcome is possible if member states can forge a common vision of the UN they need and “we the peoples” are enabled to produce a compelling People’s Pact for the Future that can enrich that vision and guide the transformative steps needed to realise it.  Interim Peopleʼs Pact for the Future: 2023 Civil Society Perspectives on the Summit of the Future, Coalition for the UN We Need, January 2023. Available at: https://c4unwn.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Interim-Peoples-Pact-for-the-Future-Compressed.pdf
Should the Summit meaningfully seize the transformative opportunities these urgent times offer and decide not to sacrifice the historic mission entrusted to it on the altar of the lowest common denominator consensus, it will be remembered for midwifing a thriving, living Pact that is truly fit for the Future.