UN chief: The world is ‘paralyzed’ and equities are slipping

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – In an alarming assessment, the UN chief warned world leaders on Tuesday that nations are “stuck in an enormous global crisis” and are prepared to tackle challenges threatening the future of humanity. Or are not ready – and the planet’s . “Our world is in danger – and paralyzed,” he said.

Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made sure to emphasize that hope remains. But his remarks reflect a tense and anxious world. He cited the war in Ukraine and escalating conflicts around the world, the climate emergency, the dire financial situation of developing countries, and failures in the UN goals for 2030, which include extreme poverty and quality education for all children.

He warned about a “forest of red flags” surrounding new technologies, despite promises to cure diseases and connect people. Guterres said social media platforms are based on a model that “monetises outrage, anger and negativity” and buys and sells data “to influence our behavior”. Artificial intelligence is “compromising the integrity of the information system, the media and indeed democracy,” he said.

The world doesn’t even have a “global architecture” to deal with the ripples caused by these new technologies because of “geopolitical tensions,” Guterres said.

His opening remarks came as leaders from around the planet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York after a three-year pandemic halt, which included a fully virtual meeting in 2020 and a hybrid last year. This week, the halls of the United Nations are once again filled with delegates depicting the cultures of the world. Many faces were visible, although all delegates are required to wear masks, except when speaking out to protect against the corona virus.

Guterres made sure to start off with a hopeful tone. He showed a photo of the first UN-chartered ship carrying grain from Ukraine – part of a deal between Ukraine and Russia that the United Nations and Turkey helped broker – to the Horn of Africa, where millions were on the edge of famine. Huh. He is an example of promise and hope “in a world full of turmoil”.

He stressed that cooperation and dialogue is the only way to maintain global peace – two fundamental principles of the United Nations since its inception after World War II. And he warned that “no power or group alone can call the shots.”

He urged the leaders gathered in the huge General Assembly Hall, “Let us work as one, as a coalition of the world, as one United Nations.”

It’s rarely that easy. Guterres said geopolitical divisions are undermining the work of the UN Security Council, international law, people’s faith in democratic institutions and most forms of international cooperation.

“The distinction between developed and developing countries, between the North and the South, between the privileged and the rest is becoming increasingly dangerous by the day,” the Secretary-General said. “It is at the root of geopolitical tensions and a lack of trust that is poisoning every area of ​​global cooperation, from vaccines to sanctions to trade.

Before the global meeting began, leaders and ministers roamed the assembly halls, interacting individually and in groups, wearing masks to avoid a COVID-19 super-spreader event. This was a sign that despite the fragmented state of the planet, the United Nations remains an important gathering place for presidents, prime ministers, kings and ministers.

Nearly 150 heads of state and government are on the list of the latest speakers, a high number indicating that the United Nations is the only place to meet in private not only to give their views but to discuss challenges on the global agenda – and hopefully that some progress.

The meeting of the 77th General Assembly of World Leaders was convened in the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II – the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which sparked a global food crisis and opened a rift between the major powers that Haven’t seen since winter. war.

Top of many’s agenda: Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which threatened not only the sovereignty of its smaller neighbour, but also nuclear power at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in the now Russian-occupied southeast of the country. The threat of devastation has been expressed.

Leaders of many countries are trying to prevent widespread war and restore peace in Europe. However, diplomats do not expect any success this week.

The loss of significant grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has led to a food crisis, especially in developing countries, and to inflation and rising cost of living among many others. Those issues are also prominent on the agenda.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, traditionally the first speaker, called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, the protection of civilians and the “maintenance of all channels of dialogue between the parties”. He opposed “unilateral or unilateral” Western sanctions, saying they harm economic recovery and threaten the human rights of vulnerable populations.

Senegalese President Maki Saal, who chairs the 55-nation African Union, and steps onto the next stage, called for “de-escalation”, a negotiated solution to halt hostilities and “avoid the catastrophic risk of a potentially global conflict.” “Called. He called or “high-level mediation mission” and said the union was ready to contribute.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said the pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and increased hunger due to the crisis in Ukraine. “Many affluent countries experiencing empty food shelves for the first time” are discovering a truth that people in developing countries have long known—for countries to thrive, affordable food is on every family’s table, he said. There should be food.

“Globally, this calls for collective measures to ensure fair access to affordable food and speed up the movement of staples to countries in need,” Abdullah said.

The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, which was attended by several world leaders, caused a last-minute headache for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and UN staff have scrambled to deal with changes in travel plans, timing of events and logistically complicated speaking schedules for world leaders.

There is an exception in personal speeches. Over objections from Russia and some allies, the assembly voted last Friday to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pre-record his speech for reasons beyond his control – “ongoing foreign aggression” and military hostility that For this they need to defend their “national defence”. and security duties. His address will be shown on Wednesday afternoon.

The US President is traditionally the second speaker representing the host country for the United Nations. But Joe Biden attended the Queen’s funeral, and his speech was pushed to Wednesday morning.

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Edith M. Lederer is the United Nations chief correspondent for the Associated Press and has been covering international affairs for more than half a century. For more AP coverage of the United Nations General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly.

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