UN Secretary General – at the 77th session of the General Assembly: hope is not enough, action is needed

Numerous crises

The head of the UN listed the numerous crises that humanity has recently faced: war, the catastrophic consequences of climate change, growing inequality and poverty, the threat of hunger in many regions of the world. However, as António Guterres noted, “When we come together in a troubled world, thoughts of hope come to mind.”

Black Sea Grain Initiative

This feeling of hope for something good was compared by the Secretary-General to a ship brave commanderthat “under the proud flag of the United Nations” delivered a shipment of Ukrainian grain destined for the people of the Horn of Africa, millions of whom are on the brink of starvation.

The ship passed through the war zone – led by the parties to the conflict themselves – as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was adopted to ensure the delivery of food and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia.

“This is an example of multilateral diplomacy,” António Guterres said. According to him, every ship that passes through this route as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative carries not only an important cargo, but also a “rare hope in our time”: Ukraine and the Russian Federation – with the support of Turkey – have come together. forces, despite the enormous difficulties, that few people believed in the possibility of such a solution, despite all the horrors of war.

Guterres is convinced that it is multilateral diplomacy and the solidarity of peoples in the face of the threats they face that can change the world for the better.

Duty to act

“We need to act on all fronts. Make no mistake: the world is in a storm. […] Trust is broken. Inequality is on the rise. Our planet is on fire. The Charter of the United Nations and the ideals it represents are under threat. People suffer, and the most vulnerable suffer the most. We have to act”, said the general secretary.

Food and fertilizers

The threat of famine hangs over many regions of the world. Droughts, floods, poverty, the consequences of a pandemic, war have brought the world to the brink of a food crisis. The Black Sea Grain Initiative reduced the severity of the problem in the short term. But, according to António Guterres, this is not enough.

There is food in the world this year, the problem arose with its delivery. But if the fertilizer market doesn’t stabilize, food availability itself could become a problem next year.

“There is food in the world this year, the problem arose with its delivery. But if the fertilizer market is not stabilized, the availability of food itself could become a problem next year”, warned the general secretary.

According to him, there are already reports that in West Africa and beyond, due to rising fertilizer prices and reduced availability of fertilizers, farmers are cultivating less agricultural land.

Therefore, the head of the UN believes, it is of fundamental importance to remove obstacles to the export of Russian fertilizers and their components, including ammonia. These assets should not be subject to sanctions. They urge the UN to pay attention to the problem of the impact of high gas prices on the production of nitrogen fertilizers.

If action is not taken now, the fertilizer shortage will quickly turn into a global food shortage, and that, according to the head of the world organization, will lead to general discontent caused by the rising cost of living.

Solidarity for Peace

António Guterres set out areas in which – overcoming differences – countries must act. The main mission of the United Nations, he recalled, is to achieve and maintain peace.

The attention of many on the planet is riveted on the Russian invasion of the territory of Ukraine. This war, the Secretary-General noted, has caused widespread destruction, massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Thousands of people died because of the fighting. Millions were forced to leave their homes. The consequences of the invasion affected billions of people around the world.

The head of the UN sees this and other tragic events around the world as a threat to a dangerous division between the West and the South, between the rich and the have-nots. Conflicts and humanitarian crises are on the rise, but are often overlooked. Among the problematic points on the world map, which were listed by the Secretary-General:

– Afghanistan, where more than half of Afghans suffer from extreme hunger and human rights are violated, especially those of women and girls;

– the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where armed groups terrorize the civilian population;

– Ethiopia, where hostilities resumed;

– Haiti, where gangs run amok;

– countries in the Horn of Africa, where an unprecedented drought threatens the lives of 22 million people.

The list also includes Libya, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Myanmar: in all these countries, disagreements continue to threaten stability and create the risk of further escalation.

Threats with the use of nuclear weapons

The already tense situation, Guterres expressed his concern, is overshadowed by the attempts of several countries to threaten the use of nuclear weapons, as well as by cases of threats to the safety of nuclear power plants.

“At the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, no consensus was found, and a nuclear deal with Iran remains elusive,” the Secretary-General noted with regret.

But there are also events that give hope. António Guterres referred to them, in particular, the national truce in Yemen and the peace process in Colombia.

He called for greater coherence in actions based on respect for international law and the protection of human rights, and the establishment of dialogue mechanisms to resolve differences.

On behalf of the Organization, Guterres pledged to use all diplomatic tools for the peaceful resolution of disputes provided for in the UN Charter – negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judgment – and to prioritize prevention and peace building.

War of self-destruction

“Suicidal war” called the Secretary-General how humanity relates to the planet on which it lives. The climate crisis has become the defining issue of our time, and addressing this issue should be a priority for both multilateral organizations and all governments, says António Guterres.

Climate catastrophe is already happening. Millions of animal and plant species are in danger of extinction

“Despite widespread public support around the world, action on climate change is stalling. But to maintain any hope of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, by 2030 the volume of harmful emissions into the atmosphere must to be reduced by 45 percent. However, emissions are growing at a record pace, and the trend is that they will increase by 14 percent in this decade,” said the Secretary General.

“The climate catastrophe is happening now. One million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction. No region remains unaffected. Once-in-a-generation climate shocks could soon become annual,” warns Guterres.

At the same time, he is sure that the climate crisis is a clear example of moral and economic injustice, because 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the G20 countries, the most economically developed countries. And the most affected by this crisis are the least affected by it: the developing countries, whose populations are most affected by poverty.

The reasons for what is happening, according to António Guterres, are the unwillingness to be treated for “fossil fuel drug addiction”. He proposes holding fossil fuel companies and those who tolerate them accountable. These include banks, closed-end funds, asset managers and other financial institutions that continue to invest and finance the carbon footprint.

With the help of a huge public relations machine that receives billions, the fossil fuel industry is shielded from criticism, says the head of the UN.

“Just as they did with the tobacco industry in previous decades, today lobbyists and public relations professionals are spreading harmful misinformation. [в поддержку ископаемых видов топлива]”, – Guterres expressed outrage.

New energy – to replace the fossil

Recognizing that fossil fuels cannot be phased out overnight, the UN chief is calling on all developed countries to impose a tax on the excess profits of fossil fuel companies. These funds, in his opinion, should be redistributed in two directions: the countries that are being harmed by the climate crisis, and the people who are suffering from the increase in food and energy prices.

António Guterres sees the need to invest more in renewable energy, help countries transition to new technologies, help countries adapt to growing climate shocks and address losses and damage caused by disasters.

“It is time to go beyond endless discussions. Vulnerable countries need real action,” the UN Secretary General addressed those gathered in the General Assembly Hall.

Crises of a new generation

Among the possible crisis situations for which humanity should be prepared, Guterres also attributed the consequences of the misuse of new technologies. Recently, new technical solutions have appeared in the use of humanity, which are designed to change life for the better. “In the time since I became Secretary General, a genome editing tool was created, neurotechnologies – the connection of technology with the human nervous system – went from idea to proof, cryptocurrencies and other applications of blockchain technology went from idea to proof .be generalized”, – listed António Guterres.

But with respect to many new technologies, there are a number of reasons for concern, believes the UN Secretary-General. Thus, the social networks through which misinformation and insults, anger and rejection are spread cause enormous damage to people and society. Personal data is bought and sold to influence people’s behavior, and spyware and digital surveillance are out of control, violating the right to privacy.

The secretary-general is concerned that artificial intelligence threatens the integrity of information systems and media, and that quantum computing could destroy cybersecurity and increase the risk of failure of complex systems. But humanity does not even have the rudiments of a global architecture to deal with at least one of these problems, Guterres warned.

Coalition from around the world

Let us work as one, as a worldwide coalition, as united nations

António Guterres emphasized that it would be impossible to achieve results in all areas that require special attention without overcoming geopolitical tensions.

“The reality is that we live in a world where the logic of cooperation and dialogue is the only way forward. No power or group of countries can solve everything alone. No major global problem can be solved by a coalition of volunteers alone. We need a coalition from all over the world”, the general secretary is sure.

To conclude his speech to the Heads of State and Government, Guterres said: “We know that high ideals must be embodied in people’s lives. So, based on the goodwill, trust and rights common to each person, let us seek common solutions to common problems. Let us work as one, as a worldwide coalition, as united nations.”

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