Guterres warns on the state of the world as leaders meet at UNGA

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Guterres warns about the condition of the World which he termed as ‘Great Peril” after meeting with other World leaders at the UNGA conference in New York.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the UN General Assembly conference during a special session to pay tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 15, 2022.

The UN chief warned that the world is in “great peril,” noting that the privilege of leaders meeting in person for the first time after three years is a great opportunity to tackle conflicts and climate catastrophes, intensifying poverty and inequality and address divisions among major powers that have gotten worse since Russia invaded Ukraine.

United Nations General Assembly held in Manhattan New York

In speeches and remarks leading up to the start of the leaders’ meeting Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited the “immense” task not only of saving the planet, “which is literally on fire,” but of dealing with the persisting Covid-19 pandemic.

He also pointed to a lack of access to finance for developing countries to recover from a crisis not seen in a generation that has seen ground lost for education, health, and women’s rights.

Guterres delivered his ‘State of the world’ speech at the Tuesday opening of the annual high-level global gathering.

On the other hand, the United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be a sober, substantive, and solutions-based report card for a world where geopolitical divides are putting all of us at risk.

“There will be no sugar-coating in his remarks, but he will outline reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters Monday.

The 77th General Assembly meeting of world leaders convenes under the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has caused a global food crisis and a split among major powers in a way not seen since the Cold War.

With nearly 150 heads of state and government on the speaker’s list indicating that despite the split among the states of the planet, the United Nations remains the key uniting place for presidents, prime ministers, monarchs, and ministers to not only deliver their views but to meet privately to discuss the challenges on the global agenda and hopefully make some progress.

The issue that has topped most leaders’ agenda has been Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which threatens the authority of its smaller neighbor but also raises fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in the country, given that it is now Russia-occupied southeast.

Leaders from different countries are making effort to prevent a wider war and reinstate peace in Europe. However, Diplomats are not expecting any breakthroughs this week.

The war between Ukraine and Russia has led to the loss of important grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia, triggering a food crisis, especially in developing countries, inflation, and a rising cost of living, among other things.

On Monday 19th, in a meeting held at the UN headquarters, with a focus on 2030 goals, among them eradication of extreme poverty, Quality education for all children, and achieving Gender Equality.

Guterres further noted that “the world’s many pressing perils make it tempting to put our long-term development priorities to one side.”

On the other hand, the UN chief said some things cannot delay, like Education, dignified jobs, Equality for women and girls, comprehensive health care, and action to tackle the climate crisis.

He called for public and private finance and investment, and above all for peace.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, which many world leaders attended, caused last-minute headaches for the high-level meeting.

Diplomats and UN staff had to deal with changes in travel plans, the timing of events, and the logistically complicated speaking schedule for world leaders.

“The global gathering, known as the General Debate, was entirely virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic, and hybrid in 2021. This year, the 193-member General Assembly returns to only in-person speeches, with a single exception” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted in his prerecorded speech.

Ukrainian President Zelensky

Following the objections from Russia and a few allies, the assembly voted last Friday to allow the Ukrainian leader to prerecord his speech because of the ongoing foreign invasion, and military hostilities that require him to carry out his national defense and security duties.

It is a custom for Brazil to speak first for over seven decades because, at the early General Assembly sessions, it volunteered to start when no other country did.

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The U.S. president Biden, representing the host country for the United Nations, is traditionally the second speaker, but since Joe Biden was attending Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in the United Kingdom, his speech was postponed to Wednesday morning as Senegalese President Macky Sall took Biden’s slot.

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