UN chief warns of crisis as world powers meet remotely

  • Wednesday 23, September 2020 01:05 AM
  • UN chief warns of crisis as world powers meet remotely
Sharjah 24 – BNA: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the U.N.’s first-ever virtual meeting of global leaders Tuesday that the world is facing an “epochal” health crisis, the biggest economic calamity and job losses since the Great Depression, threats to human rights and worries of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China.
In his grim state of the world speech to the U.N. General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, the U.N. chief said the coronavirus that “brought the world to its knees” was but “a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come.”

He called for global unity, first and foremost to fight the pandemic, and sharply criticized populism and nationalism for failing to contain the virus and for often making things worse, reported AP.

But the pre recorded speeches from world leaders at the opening of the six-day session reflected deep global divisions.

Days after the pandemic shut down big parts of the world in March, Guterres called for a global cease-fire to tackle it. On Tuesday, he appealed for a 100-day push by the international community, led by the U.N. Security Council, “to make this a reality by the end of the year.”

“There is only one winner of conflict during a pandemic: the virus itself,” the secretary-general stressed.

Reiterating a warning he made to world leaders a year ago about rising U.S.-China rivalry, he said, “We are moving in a very dangerous direction.”

“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities,” Guterres said.

“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geostrategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs.”

In his appeal for a global cease-fire, Guterres said ending wars in the Middle East and Africa is critical to defeating the coronavirus.
Guterres said armed movements from Cameroon to Colombia, the Philippines and beyond responded to his original appeal even if several cease-fires they announced didn’t last.

But there are reasons to be hopeful, he said, pointing to a new peace agreement in Sudan, the launch of Afghan peace negotiations, and cease-fires largely holding in Syria’s Idlib province, Ukraine and elsewhere.

The U.N. chief delivered his speech in the vast General Assembly Hall, where only one mask-wearing diplomat from each of the U.N.’s 193 member nations was allowed, spread out in the chamber.

“In a world turned upside down, this General Assembly Hall is among the strangest sights of all,” Guterres said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our annual meeting beyond recognition. But it has made it more important than ever.”