UN chief fears world is heading for wider war

THE UNITED NATIONS — The UN chief warned on Monday that the world faces a convergence of challenges “unprecedented in our lives” and expressed fear of a wider war as the first anniversary of the invasion approaches. Ukraine by Russia.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said experts studying the state of the world in 2023 have set the doomsday clock at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest ever to “total global catastrophe”.

He pointed to the war in Ukraine, “the rampant climate catastrophe, growing nuclear threats”, the widening gap between the world’s haves and have-nots, and the “epic geopolitical divisions” undermining “global solidarity and trust”.

In a wide-ranging speech, Guterres urged the 193 member countries of the General Assembly to change their mindset on decision-making from short-term thinking, which he called “irresponsible ” and “immoral”, to “what will happen to all of us”. tomorrow – and take action.

He said this year’s 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should serve as a reminder that the foundation of the inalienable rights of all people is “freedom, justice and peace”.

Guterres said the transformation needed today must start with peace, starting with Ukraine – where sadly, he said, the prospects for peace “continue to dwindle” and “the chances of a new escalation and bloodshed continue to grow”.

“I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a larger war. It is doing so with its eyes wide open,” he said.

The world must work harder for peace, Guterres said, not just in Ukraine but in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict “where the two-state solution is slipping away day by day,” in Afghanistan where rights women and girls “are being trampled on and deadly terrorist attacks continue” and in Africa’s Sahel region where security is deteriorating “at an alarming rate”.

He also called for intensified peace efforts in military-ruled Myanmar facing renewed violence and repression, in Haiti where gangs are holding the country hostage, “and elsewhere in the world for the two billion people living in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises”.

The Secretary-General said it was time for all countries to recommit to the UN Charter, which calls for the peaceful settlement of disputes, and a new emphasis on conflict prevention and reconciliation.

The new UN Agenda for Peace, he said, calls for “a new generation of peace enforcement missions and counter-terrorism operations, led by regional forces”, with a mandate from the Security Council. UN security that can be applied militarily and guaranteed funding. “The African Union is an obvious partner in this regard,” he added.

António Guterres also said it was time for nuclear-weapon countries to renounce the first use of all nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons, a possible use that Russia has raised in Ukraine.

“The so-called ‘tactical’ use of nuclear weapons is absurd,” he said. “We are at the highest risk in decades of a nuclear war that could begin by accident or by design. We must end the threat posed by the 13,000 nuclear weapons held in arsenals around the world.”

As for the global financial system, António Guterres called for a “radical transformation” to put the needs of developing countries at the center of every decision.

He pointed to increasing poverty and hunger around the world, developing countries forced to pay five times more to borrow money than advanced economies, vulnerable middle-income countries deprived of concessional finance and debt relief, and the richest 1% of the world’s population capturing “almost half of all the new wealth of the last decade.

Multilateral development banks must change their business model, said António Guterres.

António Guterres told diplomats that 2023 must also be “a year of groundbreaking climate action”, not of excuses or baby steps – and that there must be no more “bottomless industry greed fossil fuels and their catalysts”.

The world must focus on halving global warming greenhouse gas emissions this decade, which means far more ambitious action to reduce carbon pollution by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels towards renewable energy, especially in the world’s 20 richest global economies, he said.

It also means cutting emissions from the highest emitting industrial sectors – steel, cement, shipping and aviation, he said.

Guterres had a special message for fossil fuel producers who he said are striving to increase production “and rake in monster profits.”

“If you can’t set a credible course for net zero, with 2025 and 2040 targets covering all of your operations, you shouldn’t be in business,” he said.

The Secretary-General has invited any leader from government, business or civil society to the Climate Ambition Summit he is calling in September – with one condition.

“Show us accelerated action in this decade and renewed ambitious net zero plans – or please don’t show up,” Guterres said.


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