United Nations: Lamenting that geopolitical divides are undermining the work of the Security Council and all forms of international cooperation, UN chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned that the world risks ending up with G-nothing — no collective problem solving — even as cooperation and dialogue is the only path forward to deal with the world’s challenges.
“Our world is in peril and paralysed. Geopolitical divides are: Undermining the work of the Security Council. Undermining international law. Undermining trust and people’s faith in democratic institutions. Undermining all forms of international cooperation. We cannot go on like this, the Secretary General said in his address to the high-level session of the UN General Assembly.
Guterres told the world leaders, gathered in-person at the UN headquarters for the General Debate after two years of COVID disruption, that even the various groupings set up outside the multilateral system by some members of the international community have fallen into the trap of geopolitical divides, like the G-20.
At one stage, international relations seemed to be moving toward a G-2 world; now we risk ending up with G-nothing. No cooperation. No dialogue. No collective problem solving, he said.
The UN chief underlined that the reality is that we live in a world where the logic of cooperation and dialogue is the only path forward. No power or group alone can call the shots .
No major global challenge can be solved by a coalition of the willing. We need a coalition of the world, he said.
Guterres said the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the agreement on the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, is multilateral diplomacy in action.
Ukraine and the Russian Federation with the support of Turkiye came together to make it happen — despite the enormous complexities, the naysayers, and even the hell of war. Some might call it a miracle on the sea. In truth, it is multilateral diplomacy in action, he said, adding that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has opened the pathway for the safe navigation of dozens of ships filled with much needed food supplies.
Guterres said much of the world’s attention remains focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The war has unleashed widespread destruction with massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The latest reports on burial sites in Izyum are extremely disturbing.”
He also highlighted the forest of red flags across a host of new technologies, saying social media platforms based on a business model that monetises outrage, anger and negativity are causing untold damage to communities and societies.
Hate speech, misinformation and abuse targeted especially at women and vulnerable groups are proliferating. Our data is being bought and sold to influence our behaviour while spyware and surveillance are out of control all, with no regard for privacy, Guterres said.
Artificial intelligence is compromising the integrity of information systems, the media, and indeed democracy itself and quantum computing could destroy cybersecurity and increase the risk of malfunctions to complex systems. We don’t have the beginnings of a global architecture to deal with any of this, he said.
On climate change, the UN chief said the world must end our suicidal war against nature .
The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. It must be the first priority of every government and multilateral organisation. And yet climate action is being put on the back burner despite overwhelming public support around the world, he said.
Guterres stressed that the climate crisis is a case study in moral and economic injustice. The G20 emits 80 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. But the poorest and most vulnerable those who contributed least to this crisis are bearing its most brutal impacts.
He said the fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and the planet burns. “Fossil fuel interests need to spend less time averting a PR disaster and more time averting a planetary one.
With developing countries getting hit from all sides amid the global challenges, Guterres called for concerted action and for the launch of an SDG Stimulus led by the G-20 to massively boost sustainable development for developing countries. The upcoming G20 Summit in Bali is the place to start.
He voiced concern that the divergence between developed and developing countries between North and South between the privileged and the rest is becoming more dangerous by the day.
It is at the root of the geopolitical tensions and lack of trust that poison every area of global cooperation, from vaccines to sanctions to trade. But by acting as one, we can nurture fragile shoots of hope. The hope found in climate and peace activists around the world calling out for change and demanding better of their leaders. The hope found in young people, working every day for a better, more peaceful future.
The hope found in science and academia, racing to stay ahead of deadly diseases and end the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope found in humanitarian heroes rushing to deliver lifesaving aid around the globe,” Guterres said.
Outlining areas where the coalition of the world must urgently overcome divisions and act together, he said this starts with the core mission of the UN achieving and sustaining peace. PTI