The world is heading “with wide-open eyes” towards a “broader war” in the face of the growing “risks of escalation” in Ukraine, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, warned this Monday at the General Assembly, who kept a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Guterres expressed his “deep sadness” at the news of the many deaths after the earthquake, noting that the UN is “deeply committed to supporting the response” to help the victims. More than 2,300 people have lost their lives in Turkey and Syria due to the quake.
War in Ukraine, climate crisis, extreme poverty, were present at the Assembly. “We have entered 2023 in the sights of a convergence of challenges never before seen in our lifetimes,” Guterres warned, in a particularly somber speech laying out his 2023 goals.
At the top of the list is the war in Ukraine. “The prospects for peace continue to shrink. The risks of further escalation and carnage continue to increase,” she stressed.
“I fear that the world is sleepwalking towards a broader war and I fear that it is doing it with wide-open eyes,” said Guterres, who also recalled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the situation in Afghanistan, Burma, the Sahel or Haiti.
“If all countries fulfilled the obligations that emanate from the Charter (of the United Nations), the right to peace would be guaranteed”he insisted.
As for climate change, one of his big concerns, he said that the clock is on the verge of “total global catastrophe,” before urging “wake up and get to work,” because “the price of inaction far exceeds the price Of action”.
More broadly, he denounced the lack of “strategic vision” and the short-term “bias” of political and economic leaders, which is not only “deeply irresponsible, but also immoral.”
Underlining the need to think about future generations, the Secretary General recalled his call for a “radical transformation” of the global financial architecture.
“There is something fundamentally perverse in our economic and financial system,” he insisted, highlighting the responsibility for the increase in poverty and hunger, the gap between rich and poor or the weight of the debt of developing countries.
“Without fundamental reforms, the richest countries and individuals will continue to accumulate wealth and leave only crumbs to the communities and countries of the South.”
With the risk that in these countries a difficultly acquired development will be erased.
Last September, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that the world had regressed five years in terms of human development (health, education, standard of living).
“The Development Goals (ODD) are disappearing in the rearview mirror”Guterres lamented, referring to the 17 objectives set in 2015 to eliminate poverty, guarantee food security for all or access to affordable clean energy by 2030.
“We have the opportunity to save them,” said the head of the UN, which is organizing a summit in New York in September to assess development goals.
He also called on the G20 to adopt support measures for developing countries and their responsibilities in the fight against global warming.
Climate ambition will also focus another summit in September in New York to which it has invited senior world leaders, “with conditions.”
“Show us accelerating action for this decade and ambitious new carbon neutrality plans, or please don’t come!” he said.
He also sent a special message to oil producers: “If they are not able to establish a credible course towards net zero energy (…) they should not be in business,” he said.
“We need a renewable energy revolution, not a self-destructive resurgence of fossil fuels,” he said.
Likewise, he considered that the rights of women experiencing an “intense setback” in Afghanistan, although not only. “Half of humanity is facing the most widespread human rights violations of our time,” she insisted./AFP