The United Nations Secretary-General has called for effective multilateralism in the world as the globe confronts major challenges like the coronavirus, conflict and climate change. Antonio Guterres was speaking a day ahead of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter.

“In the 21st century, governments are no longer the only political and power reality.  And we need an effective multilateralism that can function as an instrument of global governance where it is needed.  The problem is not that multilateralism is not up to the challenges the world faces, the problem is that today’s multilateralism lacks scale, ambition and teeth,” said Guterres during a virtual media briefing.

“And some of the instruments that do have teeth; show little or no appetite to bite, as has recently been the case with the difficulties faced by the Security Council.  We need to give multilateralism the capacities to confront our challenges, not only to meet immediate needs but to enable future generations to meet theirs,” he added.

Guterres also warned that it would be difficult to achieve meaningful transformation in the global governance sphere without the active participation of world powers. However, he says the most powerful countries are reluctant to allow greater inclusion in such bodies as the Security Council.

“In an ever more interdependent world, national interests are not easily separated from the global good. Shared values, shared responsibility, shared sovereignty; shared progress – these must be our guide and our goals.  I understand the challenge. It is difficult to have a meaningful transformation of the mechanisms of global governance without the active participation of the world powers – and, let me be blunt: relationships today have never been more dysfunctional.  But I firmly believe that an awakening will come when we recognise our shared fragilities – when the factors that today divide instead begin to force people to finally understand that division is a danger to everyone, starting with themselves. Ultimately, that is the way out of the mist. Our charter still points the way,” he concluded.

The United Nations was established after the Second World War in an attempt by the victorious powers – the US, Russia and Britain – to avoid future conflict and foster global co-operation. However, some analysts say world powers have retreated from multilateral co-operation and have in recent years, focused more on self-interest.