UN chief calls for multilateralism to be remade for the 21st century
Addis Ababa, September 19, 2023 (FBC) – Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday warned the world is “becoming unhinged” and underscored the United Nations’ raison d’être, to resolve global crises during times of “maximum danger and minimum agreement.”
Mr. Guterres highlighted UN’s successful effort in preventing an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as testament to its determination and effectiveness.
“When no one else could or would, UN determination got the job done,” he said
He emphasized that despite the numerous global challenges, the same spirit of determination can guide the world forward, urging leaders to remain committed to unity, peace, human rights, and sustainable development for all.
“Let us be determined to … come together for the common good.”
Presenting his annual report on the work of the Organization, the Secretary-General stressed the need for a modernizing the multilateral system to address contemporary issues.
He pointed out that while the world has evolved, international institutions have not kept pace, potentially making them part of the problem rather than the solution.
Mr. Guterres made it clear that there is no alternative to reform, stating “it’s reform or rupture.”
He reminded world leaders of the opening words of the UN Charter, emphasizing the pledge to “end the scourge of war”.
“When countries break those pledges, they create a world of insecurity for everyone,” he said, stressing that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has serious implications for everyone worldwide.
“We must not relent in working for peace – a just peace in line with the UN Charter and international law. And even while fighting rages, we must pursue every avenue to ease the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and beyond,” he added.
The UN chief also drew attention to the human suffering resulting from conflicts and natural disasters worldwide, from Sudan to Haiti, and from Afghanistan to Myanmar.
“Needs are rising and funding is drying up. Our humanitarian operations are being forced to make massive cuts,” he said, urging countries to step up funding for the UN Global Humanitarian Appeal.
Mr. Guterres reiterated the UN Charter’s call for promoting social progress, connecting it with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing the issue of global inequality.
Africa’s allocation of more funds for debt interest than healthcare exemplified this inequity, he stressed, stressing the need for immediate steps to advancing the SDG stimulus package of $500 billion annually and alleviating financial burdens on developing and emerging economies.
The UN chief further emphasized the urgency of addressing the climate chaos, which is breaking new records, “but we cannot afford the same old broken record of scapegoating and waiting for others to move first.”
He recalled the Climate Solidarity Pact, with large emitters leading emission reductions and wealthier nations supporting emerging economies.
Mr. Guterres also outlined key immediate steps, including ending fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing, and countries fulfilling climate financing promises.
“And to all those working, marching and championing real climate action, I want you to know: You are on the right side of history. I’m with you. I won’t give up this fight of our lives,” he said.