Diversity and Representation at the United Nations

How do diversity and representation at the United Nations affect trust in the organisation and perceptions of its relevance and legitimacy?

On 24 June 2021, the Foundation was pleased to host a session at the virtual 2021 Annual Meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS).

The session, ‘Diversity and Representation at the United Nations’, considered how representation and diversity in the international civil service affect trust in the UN and perceptions of its relevance and legitimacy. Speakers reflected on progress made towards increasing representation and diversity, as well as ongoing challenges and their root causes.

The conversation explored demographic factors, such as nationality, gender, race and age; questions related to identity and access, including gender identity, disability, education and class; and broader questions pertaining to how the UN defines and engages with ‘We, the Peoples’, including its relationship to civic actors.

Speakers pointed to internal challenges, such as those related to personnel recruitment and development, different aspects of organisation culture, and resource constraints, external impediments to progress, like power politics and norm-spoiling among UN Member States, and the intersection of these issues.

The Foundation is grateful to the following speakers for contributing with their expertise: Ms. Martha Helena Lopez (Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Resources, United Nations), Dr. Anne Marie Goetz (Clinical Professor, the Center for Global Affairs, New York University), Ms. Lysa John (Secretary General, CIVICUS), Ms. Hannah Davies (PhD Researcher, Ulster University), and Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa (past President of the UN General Assembly).

Watch a video recording of the session below.


Watch the video