General debate of the 78th UN General Assembly begins
NEW YORK (United Nations) – The general debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (GA) began Tuesday in New York with the participation of leaders of 140 countries, including the President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres began his speech to the General Assembly, ahead of the start of its high-level general debate, by talking about the Libyan town of Derna, which was hit by torrents and floods last week, killing thousands of people.
Mr. Guterres said that “Derna sadly depicts the state of our world: a flood of inequality, injustice and an inability to confront challenges”, “As geopolitical tensions and international challenges increase, we seem incapable of working together to meet the challenges,” added the UN Secretary-General.
In this context, he stressed the need in the multipolar world for effective multilateral institutions, but said that international governance still lived in the past. He cited the United Nations Security Council and the Bretton Woods financial institutions, including the World Bank, as examples. He explained that these institutions reflected the political and economic reality of 1945, when many countries present at the General Assembly today were under occupation control: “The world has changed, but our institutions have not’’.
“We will not be able to effectively solve problems if institutions do not reflect the world as it is,” added the UN chief.
He stressed the need to reform the Security Council and rethink the international financial structure, before explaining that “the alternative to reform is not to maintain the situation as it is. The alternative is a increased fragmentation. Either reform or rupture.”
The UN chief also discussed a number of security challenges facing the world. He highlighted the series of unconstitutional changes across Africa’s Sahel region, then spoke of “Sudan (which) was sliding toward a global civil war, as millions fled and the country faced the risk of dividing.”
In Afghanistan, 70% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, with women and girls systematically deprived of their rights. In the Middle East, he said “unilateral actions are increasing and undermining the prospects for a two-state solution, which is the only path to peace.”
Furthermore, the UN Secretary General stressed the need to tackle the most urgent threat to the future: global warming.
“Climate change is not just climate change. Climate change is changing life on our planet and affecting every aspect of our work. It is killing people and destroying societies.
Around the world, we are seeing not only accelerating temperatures, but also accelerating sea level rise and mass decline.”
All this represents only the beginning, according to the Secretary General, who stressed that the last summer months have been the hottest on record. He recalled that all records are being broken, economies and lives are being destroyed and entire countries are on the brink of collapse.
“Despite the long list of international challenges, the same spirit of determination can guide us,” concluded the United Nations Secretary-General at the end of his speech.