The Sunday Magazine

Bob Rae and Stephen Lewis on the United Nations at 75 and Canada's place in the world

As the United Nations General Assembly marks its 75th session Piya Chattopadhyay speaks with Bob Rae and Stephen Lewis about the organization's role amidst a global pandemic and Canada's place in the world.

The two Canadian ambassadors to the UN weigh in on multilateralism and the global fight against COVID-19

L to R: Bob Rae is Canada's ambassador to the United Nations. Stephen Lewis served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in Africa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press, Codie McLachlan/CP)

As the United Nations marks its milestone 75th anniversary, it also faces a profound crisis.

The fight against COVID-19 has renewed long-standing questions about the UN's relevance and resilience, at a time when its efforts are needed the most. And the very ideals that define the organization's origins — international cooperation, multilateralism, and global leadership — seem more under threat in this moment than ever before.

Canada, meanwhile, continues to search for its place at the United Nations and on the world stage. In June, Canada lost its bid for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council. And that's prompted questions about just what the rest of the world thinks of Canada and our foreign policy.

Bob Rae, Canada's new ambassador to the UN joins The Sunday Magazine's Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about the UN's place in the world as it turns 75 and his vision for Canada on the world stage. 

And humanitarian and former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis joins Piya to offer both a passionate defence and a sharp critique of the UN, and to talk about what can be done to protect multilateralism when, as he argues, we need it most.

Interview produced by Donya Ziaee

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