The Partnership Agreement between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations poses a dangerous threat to the United Nations system. In the run-up to the World Economic Forum`s annual meeting in DAVOS, hundreds of civil society organizations reaffirm their condemnation of the partnership between the business community and the United Nations. United Nations leaders will participate in the various platforms of the World Economic Forum and use them to promote impact in the above-mentioned areas. The two institutions will review the partnership annually to further strengthen cooperation, take stock of the results achieved and identify additional areas where joint efforts can be invested. We are very concerned that this GEF-UN Partnership Agreement delegates the United Nations and gives transnational companies preferential and respectful access to the UN system. The UN system is already under serious threat from the US government and from those who question a democratic multilateral world. However, this corporatization of the UN poses a much deeper long-term threat, as it will reduce public support for the UN system in the South and North. The acceptance of this partnership agreement by the United Nations pushes the world towards the GEF`s efforts to make multistakeholderism an effective substitute for multilateralism. The GEF argued in its 2010 Global Redesign Initiative that the first step towards its vision of global governance was to “redefine the international system as a broader, multifaceted system of global cooperation, which integrates the intergovernmental legal framework and institutions as a core, but not as a single component and sometimes not the most important component.” The aim was to weaken the role of states in global decision-making and increase the role of a new group of “stakeholders” in order to transform our multilateral system into a multi-Social system in which business is part of government mechanisms. This would bring together transnational corporations, selected representatives of civil society, states and other non-state actors to make global decisions and reject or ignore critical concerns about conflicts of interest, accountability and democracy.
The agreement signed in June 2019 promises to “accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” by deepening institutional coordination and cooperation between the UN and the GEF. The agreement grants transnational groups preferential and respectful access to the UN system, to the detriment of states and public interest actors. Harris Gleckman, a former UN official and senior fellow at the University of Massachusetts, says: “This strategic agreement is a blow to the leaders of Davos, but what does it offer the United Nations and the international community? This gives some of the most controversial companies unprecedented access to the heart of the United Nations, but it has not even been properly debated by UN members, let alone the general public. “Deeply concerned about the takeover of the UN system by business, 289 organisations from all regions of the world and 27 individuals have endorsed a joint letter to UN Secretary-General H.E.M António Guterres denouncing the Strategic Partnership Agreement recently signed by the UNITED Nations and the World Economic Forum. This is a form of corporate confiscation that seriously undermines the mandate of the United Nations and the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of this multilateral body, in particular with regard to the protection and promotion of human rights. . . .