UN chief message to world leaders: ‘Get up, change course, unite’



“The establishments now we have, don’t have any tooth. And typically, even once they have tooth, like in the case of the Security Council, they haven’t a lot urge for food to chew”, the UN chief mentioned. 

With solely just a few days till the 76th session of the General Assembly kicks of its high-level week, Mr. Guterres sat down with UN Information to reply questions on a bunch of matters, from the COVID-19 pandemic, to gender equality.  

He known as for an equitable international vaccination plan, with variants persevering with to look, that sooner or later, would possibly turn out to be resistant to present innoculations. “And on that day, no person will likely be protected, within the south and within the north, not even within the international locations the place all people was vaccinated,” he mentioned.  

On Afghanistan, he argues that the scenario is “unpredictable” and warned: “What occurred in Afghanistan, would possibly embolden now, terrorist teams or different insurgent actions to turn out to be extra aggressive.” 

The UN Chief additionally highlighted local weather change, saying the world is “on the verge of the abyss” and requested all Member States to make the following UN Local weather Change Convention, COP26, a hit.  

The interview has been edited for readability and size. 

UN Information: In your current report on Our Widespread Agenda, you singled out multilateralism as one of the best instrument for rebuilding a sustainable world within the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why do you maintain this robust conviction that multilateralism is the one positive means ahead for our world right now? 

António Guterres: Properly, look what has occurred to our world; a virus has defeated the world. A couple of 12 months and a half after the whole lot began, we nonetheless have the virus spreading in all places. And we see a dramatic influence on the lives of individuals, a dramatic enhance of inequalities, economies in extraordinarily troublesome conditions, and naturally, probably the most susceptible struggling enormously. 

The world was not capable of come collectively and to outline a international vaccination plan, and convey the international locations that may produce vaccines collectively, with the World Well being Group, with the worldwide monetary establishments, to then take care of the pharmaceutical business and double the manufacturing, and ensure that there’s an equitable distribution on the manufacturing. This can’t be executed by a rustic alone; it must be executed by all. 

The issue is that the multilateral establishment now we have now – which is basically WHO – WHO has not even the facility to acquire details about the scenario. It doesn’t have the facility to analyze the origins of a illness. 

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited the low-lying island of Tuvalu in May 2019 to see how Pacific Ocean nations would be effected by the rise in sea levels.

UN Photograph/Mark Garten

The UN Secretary-Basic António Guterres visited the low-lying island of Tuvalu in Might 2019 to see how Pacific Ocean nations could be effected by the rise in sea ranges.

So, we have to resolve the issue multilaterally, bringing all people collectively, however we have to have multilateral establishments with a stronger capability of governance so as to have the ability to stop, and so as to have the ability to resolve the challenges that we face. 

Should you discuss local weather, it’s the identical. We’re on the verge of the abyss. The reality is that our goal could be very clearly mounted by the scientific neighborhood, that temperature shouldn’t go above 1.5 levels till the tip of the century.  

We’re risking not to have the ability to do it, as a result of international locations usually are not cooperating amongst themselves. There’s quite a lot of distrust between developed international locations, creating international locations. There’s a north-south divide that’s making it troublesome for all to imagine commitments, to scale back emissions, in an effort to have a drastic discount the following decade or two and attain carbon neutrality in 2050. 

So, we want a strengthened multilateralism, it is clear that solely cooperating we are able to resolve the issues. However the establishments now we have, don’t have any tooth. And typically, even once they have tooth, like within the case of the Safety Council, they haven’t a lot urge for food to chew.  

We’d like a multilateral group of establishments community working collectively, as a result of the whole lot now could be interlinked, and with extra authority so as to have the ability to mobilize the entire worldwide neighborhood to unravel the issues that we face. 

And that’s precisely one of many goals of the Widespread Agenda – to detect the worldwide commons and the worldwide public items that want improved governance and to work with member states to search out mechanisms to ensure that that governments to be simpler for us to have the ability to stop future pandemics, for us to have the ability to defeat local weather change, for us to have the ability to handle the dramatic inequalities in right now’s world. 

UN Information: Allow us to now concentrate on COVID-19. You have got been insisting that nobody is protected till everyone seems to be protected, however the actuality is totally different, particularly in Africa, the place lower than 2% of the folks are vaccinated and in lots of elements of the world vaccines usually are not getting used. What have to be executed for developed or richer nations to just accept and act on the truth that the battle towards COVID-19 can solely succeed as a standard international enterprise? 

António Guterres: Properly, as I mentioned, we want the worldwide vaccination plan, and we want to have the ability to deliver collectively all those who produce or can produce vaccines and double the manufacturing after which have an equitable distribution. 

This has been clearly our attraction, sadly, not but met. And the result’s what you mentioned. 

It’s mutating, it’s altering and there’s a threat that, at a sure second, considered one of these mutations will deliver a virus that’s in a position to withstand the vaccines that now are utilized.  

I imply, my nation [Portugal], that has been very profitable, now has 80 per cent of the inhabitants absolutely vaccinated.  In Africa, as you talked about, there are international locations with lower than two per cent.  

And the issue is that this virus is spreading like wildfire within the international south. It’s mutating, it’s altering and there’s a threat that, at a sure second, considered one of these mutations will deliver a virus that’s in a position to withstand the vaccines that now are utilized.  

And that day, no person will likely be protected within the south and within the north, not even within the international locations the place all people was vaccinated. 

So this can be a cause to grasp that the precedence have to be to vaccinate all people in all places. And that’s the reason we made an attraction for all of the measures to be taken in an effort to assure that 70 per cent of the inhabitants of the world will likely be vaccinated in the midst of subsequent 12 months. 70 per cent in an equitable means, not one % in a single place and 20% in one other. 

UN Information: Let’s flip now to Afghanistan the place the scenario is a big concern, particularly for ladies. The brand new Taliban [leadership] doesn’t have a single lady in it and most ethnic teams have additionally been ignored. What broad technique do you assume the UN and its companions ought to undertake to finest assist the folks of Afghanistan now? 

António Guterres: Properly, the scenario is unpredictable. All of us need Afghanistan to have inclusive authorities. 

All of us need Afghanistan to respect human rights particularly of ladies and ladies. All of us need Afghanistan by no means to be once more a centre for terrorists, to have a protected haven; all of us need Afghanistan to battle drug trafficking, however it’s troublesome to forecast what is going on to occur. It is nonetheless unclear what is going on to occur.  

I feel that UN has an obligation, and our obligation is to have interaction, to have interaction primarily based on what we are able to ship, and what we are able to ship is important humanitarian assist, at present second, and to have interaction in an effort to clarify to the Taliban how essential it’s for them to have an inclusive authorities of all of the totally different ethnicities, and,  after all, with ladies, to have ladies and ladies’ rights revered. 

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, discusses humanitarian issues with the leadership of the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Martin Griffiths, Underneath-Secretary-Basic for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Aid Coordinator, discusses humanitarian points with the management of the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Girls should have the ability to work, ladies should have the ability to have all ranges of schooling, and, on the identical time, to cooperate with the worldwide neighborhood combating terrorism in an efficient means. So, we have to interact with the Taliban, and that is what now we have executed. 

As you realize, now we have despatched Martin Griffiths, our Emergency Aid Coordinator and head of the Workplace of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to go to Kabul and to talk with the Taliban management on how can we ship humanitarian assist or the way it can be executed in a protected atmosphere or in an equitable means wherein there aren’t any discriminations of any type? And, on the identical time, to have interaction with them on the opposite facets that I discussed, about human rights and different types of cooperation which are important? So, we have to interact. We do not know the way issues will develop, however we all know that if we do not interact, they’ll in all probability go within the incorrect route. 

After which we have to mobilize worldwide neighborhood to offer humanitarian assist. The Afghan persons are struggling a lot. It is important to deliver to the Afghans, meals, drugs and different primary types of assist to keep away from a catastrophic scenario within the nation.  

And the opposite concern now we have is, due to all of the totally different measures and sanctions that exist, that there’s a threat of utterly strangling the economic system.  

So, I feel the worldwide neighborhood should discover methods to inject some money within the Afghan economic system in an effort to keep away from the collapse of the economic system, that can have devastating penalties in relation to the lifetime of Afghans, and in addition upsetting an enormous exodus that, after all, will likely be an element of instability in the entire area. 

Energy right now on this planet remains to be primarily targeting males and with the male dominated tradition.  

UN Information: In lots of international locations world wide, ladies are nonetheless left behind on a number of fronts. You’ve got executed lots to advance the problem of gender parity right here within the United Nations. However many critics cost that the UN ought to be driving this agenda extra forcefully. What actions do you want to see carried out to make sure that gender equality is a actuality by 2030? 

António Guterres: Properly, there are a lot of dimensions. After all, the illustration of ladies within the totally different organs of the UN, and in addition at a nationwide and worldwide degree; the questions of a assist to ladies entrepreneurs and the financial empowerment of ladies combating gender-based violence. That’s nonetheless, as you realize, a horrible scenario in battle areas, however at dwelling, in lots of, many circumstances, abolishing all discriminatory laws that also exists in lots of international locations the place full equality between men and women usually are not within the regulation. 

So, all these items are priorities for us, however there’s a central query, which is a query of energy. Energy right now on this planet remains to be primarily targeting males and with the male dominated tradition.  

And energy is normally not given, energy is taken. So, we want ladies to totally battle for his or her rights and we want males that perceive that solely with full gender equality, the world will enhance and the issues we solved. 

We’d like these males, to have interaction successfully within the battle for gender equality. And on this query of energy within the UN, as you realize, now we have now parity, equal variety of men and women in 180 excessive rating workplaces of the UN and within the leaders of our groups world wide, as a result of we really feel that if within the organs the place the facility exists, there’s parity, this may inevitably have penalties, down the road. 

So, we should have the identical in governments, we should have the identical in parliaments, we should have the identical in all our bodies.  

We have to have men and women in full equality the place choices are taken, the place energy exists, to ensure that we modify this unbalanced energy relationship, that’s the results of centuries of male domination and patriarchy. 

Secretary-General António Guterres (2nd right, front) with women who comprise part of his leadership team of which has achieved gender balance within the Senior Management Group.

UN Photograph/Mark Garten

Secretary-Basic António Guterres (2nd proper, entrance) with ladies who comprise a part of his management staff of which has achieved gender steadiness inside the Senior Administration Group.

UN Information: One other marginalized group is youth, and you’ve got been calling for everybody to offer youth a seat on the desk, as nation try to construct an inclusive and equitable world for all. What would you prefer to see the youth themselves do to ensure that they get that chance? 

António Guterres: I feel younger folks now have huge devices to come back collectively and to make their voice heard. 

Younger folks dominate social media far more than my technology. Younger folks have an infinite capability of mobilization as now we have seen within the actions towards racism, towards local weather change, towards inequalities of various types, the motion for gender equality, the place the younger technology is extraordinarily progressive in relation to the older ones. 

So, we have to create the institutional mechanisms to permit for the voice of younger folks to be extra current the place choices are taken. 

And that’s why, once more, within the Widespread Agenda, now we have plenty of essential measures to provide younger folks voice and affect in the best way the UN works. 

UN Information: Let’s focus now on Africa, on the problems of battle. You’ve got warned just lately that occasions in Afghanistan may additionally affect what occurs subsequent in sure unstable hotspots in Africa, particularly the place extremist ideology is driving battle. May you please clarify the way you see this? 

António Guterres: If one appears to be like at a scenario just like the Sahel, I’m very apprehensive. We see a discount of the French presence. Now we have seen Chad transferring troops from probably the most harmful space. 

We see the terrorist teams emboldened by the scenario in Afghanistan, the victory of the Taliban. And so, I feel it is time to actually rally efforts, to ensure that we create an efficient safety mechanism within the Sahel. 

What occurred in Afghanistan, would possibly embolden terrorist teams now, or different insurgent actions to turn out to be extra aggressive

That’s the reason I have been all the time advocating for a robust African pressure by the African union along with the regional organizations, with assist from the Security Council and a Chapter 7 decision [the means by which the Security Council can authorize the use of force], and with contributions, obligatory contributions, to ensure that pressure will likely be successfully supported. 

However then we additionally know that army pressure shouldn’t be sufficient. We have to have improvement, we have to battle the influence of local weather change, and we have to do the whole lot to enhance the governance of the world. 

So, we want actually to spice up our efforts and I attraction to the worldwide neighborhood to totally assist it within the totally different dimensions. 

Within the safety dimension, within the improvement dimension, in the humanitarian dimension, within the governance and human rights dimensions. And if we do it, we can defeat terrorism within the Sahel. 

But when we maintain the identical scenario now we have right now, I am very apprehensive about that improvement. And the identical could be mentioned about different elements of Africa, the place what occurred in Afghanistan, would possibly embolden terrorist teams now, or different insurgent actions to turn out to be extra aggressive. 

UN Information: And on international safety, because the world continues to grapple with extra safety threats – after all, you spoke concerning the situation of extremism, and different types of conflicts, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. What extra can the UN do to make the world a safer place? 

António Guterres: Properly, the largest drawback right now is the shortage of belief. And particularly the shortage of belief among the many large powers. You see that within the difficulties of the Safety Council to take sufficient choices with the remainder of the totally different disaster on this planet. 

And so, with this division, with this divide among the many large powers with this lack of belief, what we see is an atmosphere of impunity, folks assume they will do no matter they need.  

UN Secretary-General António Guterres holds a virtual conversation about climate action with youth activists Paloma Costa from Brazil (left on screen) and Marie Christina Kolo from Madagascar.

UN Photograph/Manuel Elías

UN Secretary-Basic António Guterres holds a digital dialog about local weather motion with youth activists Paloma Costa from Brazil (left on display) and Marie Christina Kolo from Madagascar.

So, we have to rebuild belief, and we have to rebuild belief amongst those who have extra affect in world affairs to have the ability to cooperate in an effort to ensure that we’re capable of unite the worldwide neighborhood in addressing the crises which are multiplying now. 

We see extra coup d’états, we see new conditions of battle, we see social instability and unrest. 

We have to have a Safety Council that’s united, that’s robust. And for that, we want a severe dialogue among the many large powers to attempt to discover widespread floor. 

UN Information: The final debate is subsequent week, Mr. Secretary-Basic, what’s your key message the world leaders as they’re coming subsequent week? 

António Guterres: My major message: It is time to ring the alarm bell. We’re on the verge of a precipice and we’re transferring within the incorrect route. 

Have a look at [COVID-19] vaccination, have a look at the difficulties in bringing collectively all international locations to ensure that we make COP26 a hit. 

Have a look at the multiplication of conflicts now we have witnessed in the previous couple of months. We have to change course, and we have to get up. So, my message to the leaders: Get up, change course, unite, and let’s attempt to defeat the large challenges we face right now. 




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