At the UN General Assembly, Guterres warns leaders that in the shadow of the Ukraine war, nations are “locked in a colossal global dysfunction.”
In an alarming assessment, the head of the UN has warned world leaders that nations are “stuck in a colossal global dysfunction” and unready or unwilling to address the challenges that threaten humanity’s future.
“Our world is in danger – and paralyzed,” he said on Tuesday.
The 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) of world leaders takes place in the shadow of the Russian war in Ukraine, which has triggered a global food crisis and opened rifts between major powers in a way not seen since the Cold War .
Opening the annual high-level meeting in New York City, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres began his remarks on a hopeful note.
He shared a photo of the first UN-chartered ship carrying grain from Ukraine — part of the Ukraine-Russia deal the UN and Turkey helped broker — to the Horn of Africa, where millions of people have been on the fringes face a famine. He said it was an example of promise and hope “in a world in turmoil.”
He stressed that cooperation and dialogue are the only way to maintain world peace – two fundamental UN principles since its inception after World War II. And he warned that “no single power or group can call the shots”.
“Let us work as one, as a coalition of the world, as a united nations,” he urged the leaders gathered in the vast General Assembly Hall.
“The divergence between developed and developing countries, between North and South, between the privileged and the rest is becoming more dangerous by the day,” said the Secretary-General.
“It is at the root of the geopolitical tensions and lack of trust that poison every area of global cooperation, from vaccines to trade sanctions.”
High on the agenda for many is Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which has not only threatened the sovereignty of its smaller neighbor but also fueled fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in the country’s now Russian-occupied south-east .
The loss of key grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has sparked a food crisis, particularly in developing countries, and inflation and rising living costs in many others.
King Abdullah II of Jordan said the pandemic, exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine, has disrupted global supply chains and increased hunger. Many affluent countries, experiencing empty food shelves for the first time, “are discovering a truth people in developing countries have known for a long time — for countries to thrive, affordable food must make it onto every family’s table,” he said.
“On a global scale, this requires collective action to ensure fair access to affordable food and to speed up the movement of basic necessities to countries in need,” Abdullah said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged world leaders at the UN headquarters on the need for a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine without taking concrete steps.
“This does not necessarily reflect Turkey’s shortcomings as it is a fact of where we are right now where no organ or country has been able to find practical steps to end this war,” said an Al Jazeera correspondent Jamal Elshayyal.
“But perhaps Ankara’s position is much more promising than others as it has managed to find common ground for some of the knock-on effects of this war, particularly in terms of food security and the global supply chain of grains and other important things coming out of it,” he added added.
“Ultimately, Erdogan’s main message to the delegates was to seek support for his country’s attempt to resolve conflicts.”
The gathering comes as officials in four Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine said they will hold referenda on September 23-27 on incorporation into Russia, setting the stage for Moscow to escalate the war could.
NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg described the referendum plans as a “sham”.