UN chief warns world leaders: World is in ‘great danger’

Warning the world is in “great danger”, the United Nations chief said leaders meeting face-to-face for the first time in three years must address conflict and climate disasters, growing poverty and inequality, and the division between major powers that has been worsened by Russia. . invaded Ukraine.

In speeches and remarks ahead of the leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited the “enormous” task of not only saving the planet, “which is literally on fire,” but dealing with the lingering epidemic of Covid-19. . She also noted the “lack of financing for developing countries to recover, a once-in-a-generation crisis” that has lost ground for education, health and women’s rights.

Guterres will deliver his “State of the World” address at the opening of the annual high-level global meeting on Tuesday. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be “a sober, realistic, solutions-focused report card” for a world “where geopolitical divisions threaten us all”.

“There will be no sugar coating his comments, but they will give reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters on Monday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an event called “SDG Moment” at the United Nations headquarters on September 19, 2022. Photo: AP

The 77th session of the General Assembly of world leaders meets in the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II: the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has fueled a global food crisis and opened a rift between the major powers that has not been seen since. Cold War.

However, about 150 heads of state and government are on the most recent list of speakers. It’s a sign that, despite the divided state of the planet, the United Nations is a key place for presidents, prime ministers, kings and ministers to meet not only to express their views, but also to privately discuss challenges. global agenda, and hopefully it will make some progress.

At the top of that agenda for many: Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which not only threatens the sovereignty of its tiny neighbor, but threatens nuclear destruction at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in the country’s southeast. by Russia.

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

The loss of important grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has led to food crises in developing countries in particular, and inflation and rising costs of living in many other countries. Those issues are high on the agenda.

At Monday’s meeting to promote the UN’s 2030 goals, which include ending extreme poverty, ensuring quality education for all children and achieving gender equality, Guterres said the world’s many pressing risks make it “tempting to set aside our long-term development priorities”. is

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire on Russian positions from an M777 howitzer in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on July 14, 2022. Photo: AP

But the UN chief said some things could not wait, including education, decent jobs, full equality for women and girls, comprehensive health care and action to tackle the climate crisis. He called for public and private funding and investment and above all for peace.

The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, which was attended by many world leaders, created a last-minute headache for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and UN staff have scrambled to deal with changing travel plans, timing of events and a logistically complex schedule of speeches by world leaders.

The global gathering, known as the General Debate, was completely virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic and hybrids in 2021. This year, the 193-member General Assembly again spoke only in person, with only one exception: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Despite objections from Russia and some allies, the assembly voted last Friday to allow the Ukrainian leader to pre-record his speech due to reasons beyond his control: “ongoing foreign aggression” and military hostilities that he claims are his “nationality”. need to be carried out. Defense and Security Duties”.

By tradition, Brazil has been the first to speak for more than seven decades because, in the first sessions of the General Assembly, it started voluntarily when no other country did.

The President of the United States, who represents the host country of the United Nations, is traditionally the second speaker. But Joe Biden will attend the Queen’s funeral and his speech has been postponed until Wednesday morning. Senegalese President Mackie Sale is expected to replace Biden.

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