NEW YORK: The UN Security Council must be reformed to meet the demands of the modern world amid an “unhinging” of the global system, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
He began his speech by highlighting the tragedy in Libya, where thousands have died as a result of flooding.
Those living in the coastal city of Derna and surrounding areas were “victims many times over,” Guterres said.
They were “victims of years of conflict, victims of climate chaos and victims of leaders near and far.”
Derna is a “sad snapshot of the state of our world — the flood of inequity, of injustice, of inability to confront the challenges in our midst,” Guterres said.
And amid a world that is “becoming unhinged,” where “geopolitical tensions are rising” and “global challenges are mounting,” it is “high time to renew multilateral institutions based on 21st-century political and economic realities.”
He noted the transition of the global system toward multipolarity — where different power centers maintain influence — but warned that the new reality requires “strong and effective multilateral institutions” to operate peacefully and effectively.
Guterres described the UN as reflecting the world of 1945, “when many countries in this Assembly Hall were still under colonial domination.”
He added: “The world has changed. Our institutions have not. We cannot effectively address problems as they are if institutions don’t reflect the world as it is.”
As a result of the outdated system, “divides are deepening,” Guterres warned, highlighting “divides among economic and military powers,” and “divides between north and south, east and west.”
The world is “inching ever closer to a great fracture in economic and financial systems and trade relations, one that threatens a single, open internet, with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence, and potentially clashing security frameworks.”
Guterres called for the UNSC and global financial system to be reformed in line with the demands of the modern world. But reforms are “a question of power,” he said. “I have no illusions.”
Statesmanship should serve as the target instead of gamesmanship and gridlock, he said, adding: “It is time for a global compromise. Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise. Effective leadership is compromise.”
Guterres also noted crises affecting the Arab world and Africa, including in the Sahel, where a “series of coups is further destabilizing the region as terrorism is gaining ground.”
He added: “Sudan is descending into full-scale civil war; millions have fled and the country risks splitting apart.”
And the “escalating violence and bloodshed” in Palestine is “taking a terrible toll on civilians,” he said, adding that the two-state solution is “the only pathway to lasting peace and security.”
Syria, meanwhile, “remains in ruins while peace remains remote,” said Guterres, who concluded by calling for climate action, noting that COP28, hosted by the UAE, is “around the corner.”
He added: “To all those working, marching and championing real climate action, I want you to know you are on the right side of history. I’m with you. I won’t give up this fight of our lives.”