We are living in “a world of disquiet”, the United Nations chief told the High-level session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, urging the Heads of States present to advance “common good” while upholding “shared humanity and values”.
Presenting his annual report on the work of the UN, Secretary-General António Guterres told the overflowing Assembly Hall that a “great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left out and left behind”.
“Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future”, he detailed.
And because people still believe in the UN, “we, the leaders, must deliver”, he underscored.
Apart from promising developments, such as peaceful elections in Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Greece-North Macedonia name dispute resolution; political dialogue in Sudan; and an agreement in Syria, he spoke of persisting conflicts, terrorism and “the risk of a new arms race growing” across the world.
He lamented over unresolved situations in Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan; a threatened two-State solution between Israel and Palestine; Venezuelan displacements; and “the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf”.
Keeping the peace
The UN chief spoke about the importance of investing in peace through crisis prevention, mediation and diplomacy, saying that some 100,000 UN peacekeepers were currently protecting civilians and promoting peace.
And humanitarian workers ease suffering around the world.
“Fully half of all international relief aid is channeled through the United Nations – ensuring that millions receive protection, food, medicine, shelter, water and other life-saving assistance”, said Mr. Guterres, noting sadly that this “year alone…we have lost at least 80 peacekeepers, humanitarians and others, all of whom gave their lives trying to better the lives of others”.
The Secretary-General explained that the UN has bolstered its counter-terrorism architecture; defined new strategies to tackle violent extremism; embarked on a new disarmament agenda and stressed the need for strengthening disarmament treaties.
He expressed concern over “a new risk looming on the horizon”, elaborating on “the possibility of a great fracture: the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero sum geopolitical and military strategies”.