Guterres to the 78th UN General Assembly: “Inequality defines our era”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ speech focused on calling on world governments to find consensus and “renew institutions” to adapt to new times.

This Tuesday, the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations began with the presence of prominent heads of state and government gathered at the headquarters in New York. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres opened the session by calling on governments around the world to end “inequalities” as they pose a threat to democracy and “inequality defines our era.”

“Democracy is threatened, authoritarianism is advancing, inequalities are increasing and hate speech is increasing,” Guterres said, while lamenting the lack of consensus between governments.

For this reason, he stressed the need to promote global action to combat this situation, which, according to him, is one of the main axes to achieve progress for the most vulnerable nations.

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Guterres began his speech by recalling the natural disaster in the city of Derna, Libya, where “thousands of people lost their lives in floods of epic and unprecedented proportions.”

“They were victims of years of conflict, they were victims of climate chaos and they were victims of leaders near and far who failed to find the path to peace,” he said.

This scenario, he argues, must serve to highlight “inequality, injustice and the inability to face the challenges” of world leaders.

“Geopolitical tensions are rising, global challenges are intensifying and we seem unable to respond together. “We face a range of existential threats, from the climate crisis to technologies that are changing everything,” he added.

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In this sense, he called on institutions to adapt to new times because, in his opinion, “the world has changed, but our institutions have not.”

“We cannot effectively address today’s problems if institutions do not reflect the world as it is today. Instead of solving problems, they could become part of the problem,” he said.

Furthermore, he believes that “the gap between economic and military powers, the gap between North and South, East and West” does not facilitate the dialogue and consensus to which he referred in his speech.

“We are increasingly approaching a major rupture in the economic and financial system and in trade relations. A rift that threatens the open Internet with different strategies in terms of technology, artificial intelligence and possibly security frameworks that are at odds with each other,” he commented.

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For this reason, he believes that “the time has come to renew multilateral institutions based on the economic and political realities of the 21st century.”

“That means reforming the Security Council to reflect today’s world, it means transforming the international financial architecture so that it is truly universal and serves as a global support network for developing countries in difficulty.”

With this request he referred to the need to promote a new level of consensus worldwide. “Effective leadership depends on consensus. “Leaders have a special responsibility in seeking consensus to shape a shared future of peace and prosperity for the common good,” he said.