Lazy eyes listen
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned nations on Monday that the possibility of further escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict means the world is on the verge of a “wider war.”
In a gloomy speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the secretary-general outlined his priorities for the year, focusing on Russia’s invasion, the climate crisis, and extreme poverty.
“We have begun 2023 facing a confluence of challenges unprecedented in our lifetimes,” he told diplomats in New York.
Last month, top scientists and security experts moved the “Doomsday Clock” to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to signaling humanity’s annihilation.
The secretary-general described it as a warning sign.
“We need to wake up — and get to work,” he pleaded, listing his pressing concerns.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is approaching its one-year anniversary, was at the top of the list.
“The prospects for peace continue to dwindle. “The likelihood of further escalation and bloodshed grows,” he said.
“I fear the world is not dozing off into a larger war. I’m afraid it’s doing so with both eyes open.”
Other threats to peace, according to Guterres, include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Sahel, and Haiti.
“The right to peace would be guaranteed if every country fulfilled its obligations under the [UN] Charter,” he said.
He went on to say that it’s “time to transform our approach to peace by recommitting to the Charter — putting human rights and dignity first, with prevention at the center.”
More broadly, Guterres decried a lack of “strategic vision” and a “bias” toward the short term among political and business decision-makers.
“The following poll. The next political maneuver to maintain power. But also the next business cycle — or even the stock price the next day.
“This short-term thinking is not only irresponsible, but also immoral,” he added.
The secretary-general reiterated his call for a “radical transformation” of global finance, emphasizing the importance of acting with future generations in mind.
Ambition on climate change
“Something is fundamentally wrong with our economic and financial system,” Guterres said, blaming it for rising poverty and hunger, widening wealth disparities, and developing-country debt burdens.
“Without fundamental reforms, the richest countries and individuals will continue to amass wealth, leaving crumbs for the Global South’s communities and countries,” he added.
According to the UN Development Program, the world has regressed five years in terms of human development, including health, education, and living standards.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are “disappearing in the rearview mirror,” according to Guterres.
By 2030, the 17 goals established in 2015 aim to eliminate poverty, provide food security for all, and provide access to clean and affordable energy.
“We have opportunities to save [them],” said Guterres, who is organizing a summit on the subject in September in New York.
The fight against global warming and “climate ambition” will be central to another summit in September, to which he has invited world leaders “with a condition.”
“Show us accelerated action this decade and renewed ambitious net zero plans — or please don’t show up,” he said, before launching another attack on fossil fuel companies.
“You should not be in business if you cannot set a credible course for net-zero, with 2025 and 2030 targets covering all of your operations.”