The General Debate of the United Nations is under way in New York. It opened with a frank assessment of the state of the world by the Secretary-General who warned member states that the world was becoming unhinged with geopolitical tensions rising and global challenges mounting.
Among the key speakers during the opening session were the President of Brazil who made a triumphant return to the United Nations after winning re-election last year, while the US President used the platform to reaffirm Washington’s support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was clear in his global assessment – a multi-polar world needed strong and effective multilateral institutions.
But he warned that global governance was stuck in time.
“Democracy is under threat. Authoritarianism is on the march. Inequalities are growing. And hate speech is on the rise. In the face of all these challenges and more, compromise has become a dirty word.Our world needs statesmanship, not gamesmanship and gridlock. As I told the G20, it is time for a global compromise. Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise. Effective leadership is compromise. Leaders have a [special] responsibility to achieve compromise in building a common future of peace and prosperity for our common good.”
United Nations General Assembly debate
Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – announcing that his country was back – railed against global inequities that have framed the emergence of power blocs including the now expanding BRICS, while calling for governments to break away from the increasing dissonance between the voice of the markets and the voice of the streets.
“The foundations of the new economic governance have not been laid. The BRICS was the result of this paralysis and constitute a strategic platform to promote cooperation between emerging countries in the region. Expansion of the group at the Johannesburg summit meeting strengthens the fight for an order which accommodates the economic, geographic and political polarity of the 21st century.
Da Silva adds, “We are a force that works towards fairer global trade in the context of a serious crisis in multilateralism. Rich countries protectionism has gained strength in the World Trade Organisation remains paralyzed, especially its dispute settlement system. Nobody remembers the Doha Development Round anymore. In the meantime, unemployment and precarious work has been undermining people’s confidence in better times, especially the youth.”
President Lula said the war in Ukraine exposed the world’s collective inability to enforce the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, calling for the creation of space for negotiations.
US President Joe Biden vowed to stand with Kyiv as long as it took.
“Like every nation in the world, the United States wants this war to end. No nation wants this war to end more than Ukraine. We strongly support Ukraine and its efforts to bring about diplomatic resolution that delivers just and lasting peace. Russia alone, Russia alone bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately. As Russia alone stands in the way of peace because of Russia’s price for peace is Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory and Ukraine’s children.
Biden adds, “Russia believed that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalise Ukraine without consequence. But ask you this: if we abandon the core principles of United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?”
Biden also indicated that the world found itself at an inflection point, again reiterating Washington’s support for reforming multilateral institutions, calling for more voices and perspectives at the table while pointing to the looming challenges of Artificial Intelligence.
“Together with leaders around the world, the United States is working to strengthen rules and policies so AI technologies are safe before they’re released to the public. To make sure we govern this technology, not the other way around, having to govern us.”
The General Debate continues.
UN General Assembly Debate I ‘The world has changed but our institutions have not’ : Guterres: