UN chief Guterres says trust in political leadership is crumbling

Secretary general stresses importance of dialogue to halt the proliferation of global conflicts

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at an event launch for the climate TRACE initiative in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name. AFP
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the world is in crisis, trust in political leadership is crumbling and divisions between developed and emerging economies are widening.

“We know that to tackle global inequalities, we need to provide developing countries with the resources and support they need to invest in their future from education and health care to eradicate poverty and realise full equality for women and girls,” Mr Guterres told participants at the ninth global forum for the UN Alliance of Civilisations in Fez, Morocco.

He called for urgent action to prevent further instability and hunger, from the Horn of Africa and the Sahel to Afghanistan to Haiti and beyond.

“We need to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century and urgently reduce emissions this decade,” he said.

“That is why at Cop27, I proposed a Climate Solidarity Pact that combines the capacities of developed and emerging economies for the benefit of all.”

He said a growing number of conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, were “devastating lives and undermining economies” and stressed the importance of dialogue to stop the proliferation of conflict.

Mr Guterres also spoke of “rampant” intolerance and irrationality where hate is “finding fertile ground in a landscape marred by injustices and conflicts”.

“Hate speech, disinformation, and abuse are proliferating, targeting women and vulnerable groups.”

Also speaking at the conference, Miguel Moratinos, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, said the war in Ukraine has affected the peace and stability of the entire international order and the fragility of the financial system has once again placed the priority of the need to “avoid greater evils, including nuclear armageddon”.

The UNAOC was created after the 9/11 attacks on the US as the political initiative of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to think of civilisations as categories of international diplomacy and to focus on culture within civilisations as a potential source of conflict and peace.

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, told The National that the world is polarised and “suffering when it comes to extremism, climate change, food security, water” and “I think the youth are expecting a better world.”

She said the UAE is taking a “human-first” approach in its policy, which is driven by a culture that will show “the way forward to better navigate the multi-crises engulfing the international community today”.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 2:25 PM