The UN chief fears the world is heading towards a broader war

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief warned Monday that the world faces a convergence of challenges “unlike any in our lifetimes” and expressed fears of a broader war as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches. from Ukraine.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres said experts studying the state of the world in 2023 set the doomsday clock at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has come to “total global catastrophe.”

He pointed to the war in Ukraine, “runaway climate catastrophe, growing nuclear threats,” the widening chasm between the world’s haves and have-nots, and “epic geopolitical divides” that undermine “solidarity and world 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 looking at “what It will happen to all of us.” tomorrow, and act.

He said the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year 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, beginning in Ukraine, where unfortunately, he said, the prospects for peace “continue to dwindle” and “the chances of further escalation and bloodshed continue to grow.”

“I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a broader war. He is doing it with his eyes wide open,” she said.

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

He also called for stepping up peace efforts in military-ruled Myanmar, which is facing new violence and repression, in Haiti, where gangs are holding the country hostage, “and in other parts of the world for the two billion people living in countries affected by conflicts and humanitarian crises.

The secretary-general said it is time for all countries to recommit to the UN Charter, which calls for the peaceful resolution of disputes and a new focus on conflict prevention and reconciliation.

The proposed new UN Peace Agenda, he said, calls for “a new generation of peace enforcement missions and counter-terrorism operations, led by regional forces,” with an enforceable UN Security Council mandate. militarily and with guaranteed financing. “The African Union is an obvious partner in this regard,” she added.

Guterres also said it is time for nuclear-armed 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 greatest risk in decades of a nuclear war that could start by accident or design. We need to end the threat posed by the 13,000 nuclear weapons stored in arsenals around the world.”

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

He pointed to the rise in poverty and hunger around the world, developing countries forced to pay five times more to borrow money than advanced economies, vulnerable middle-income countries denied concessional financing, and the debt relief, and the richest 1% of the world’s population capturing “nearly half of all new wealth over the past decade.”

Multilateral development banks must change their business model to invest more capital in developing countries to achieve UN goals, including ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change, Guterres said.

Guterres told diplomats that 2023 must also be “a year of revolutionary climate action,” not excuses or baby steps, and that “there must be no more bottomless greed from the fossil fuel industry and its enablers.”

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

It also means cutting emissions from the highest-emitting industry sectors: steel, cement, shipping and aviation, he said.

Guterres had a special message for fossil fuel producers who, he said, are struggling to expand production “and making monstrous profits.”

“If you can’t set a credible course for net zero, with 2025 and 2030 targets covering all of your operations, you shouldn’t be in business,” he said.

The Secretary General invited any government, business or civil society leader to the Climate Ambition Summit that he will convene in September, on one condition.

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