Warning the world is in “great danger”, UN chief says leaders meeting in person for first time in three years warn of conflict and climate disasters, rising poverty and addressing inequality and addressing divisions. among the major powers that have deteriorated since Russia invaded Ukraine.
In speeches and comments ahead of the start of Tuesday’s leaders’ meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke of the “immense” task of not only saving the planet “which is literally on fire,” but also in the face of to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He also noted “the lack of access to finance for the developing world’s recovery, a crisis not seen in a generation” that has caused education, health and women’s rights to lose ground.
Guterres will deliver his “State of the World” address at the opening of the annual high-level world gathering on Tuesday. UN Speaker Stephane Dujarric said it would be “a sober, substantive, solution-oriented testimony” to a world “where geopolitical divisions endanger us all.”
“There will be no sugar- his comments overdo it , but he will offer reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters on Monday.
The 77th session of the General Assembly of world leaders is taking place in the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II: The conflict between Russia and Ukraine that triggered a world food crisis in and created rifts between the major powers that have not been visible since the Cold War.
Nevertheless, almost 150 heads of state and government are on the most recent list of speakers. It is a sign that, despite the fragmented state of the planet, the United Nations remains the premier gathering place for presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and ministers not only to express their views but also to meet privately to discuss the challenges facing us the world’s global agenda, and hopefully make some progress.
At the top of that agenda for many is: Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which not only threatens the sovereignty of its smaller neighbor, but also fears of a nuclear catastrophe in the largest country in Europe. Nuclear power plant in the southeast of the country now occupied by Russia.
Leaders of many countries are trying to prevent a major war and restore peace in Europe. But diplomats don’t expect any progress this week.
The disappearance of key grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has triggered a food crisis, particularly in developing countries, as well as inflation and a rising cost of living in many others . These issues are high on the agenda.
At a meeting on Monday to promote the UN Goals for 2030, including ending extreme poverty, ensuring a quality education for all children and achieving gender equality, Guterres said the world’s many pressing dangers make it “tempting to change our priorities for the long term putting development aside.”
But the UN chief said some things cannot 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, attended by many world leaders, caused a last-minute headache for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and UN staff have grappled with the changing travel plans, the timing of events and the logistically complex speaking schedule of world leaders.
The global gathering, known as the General Debate, took place entirely virtually in 2020 , because of the pandemic and hybrid in 2021.
This year, all 193 members of the General Assembly are only returning to speak in person, with one exception: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Despite objections from Russia and some allies, the assembly voted last. on Friday to allow the Ukrainian leader to pre-record his speech for reasons beyond his control: the “ongoing foreign invasion” and military hostilities forcing him to carry out his “national defense and security duties”.
Brazil has traditionally spoken first for more than seven decades, having volunteered to begin in the early sessions of the General Assembly when no other country has.
The President of the United States, representing the United States as the host country of the nations, is traditionally the second speaker. But Joe Biden will attend the Queen’s funeral and his speech has been postponed to Wednesday morning.