At the UN, the fear of divisions in the face of an avalanche of crises
“Fractures”, “paralyzed” world, “solidarity” needed: the successive heads of state and government on the podium of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday warned of the dangerous divisions in a world that is already piling up in crises as a result of the war in Ukraine to global warming.
“The purchasing power crisis is unleashed, confidence is crumbling, inequalities are exploding, our planet is burning” and despite everything “we are locked in a colossal global dysfunction”, lamented UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as he opened this high-level week of the General Assembly, which after personally resumed two years marked by COVID-19.
“These crises threaten the future of humanity and the destiny of the planet,” he said. “Let’s not delude ourselves (…) A winter of global dissatisfaction is looming on the horizon.”
Among the dangers threatening the world, the Secretary-General mentioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is the focus of this high-level diplomatic week. Notably, with an intervention by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday – via video thanks to a special mandate decided by member states last week – and a security council on Thursday at the level of foreign ministers.
In the latest development in the conflict, Moscow-installed authorities in four regions of Ukraine announced on Tuesday that urgent “referendums” on Russia’s annexation would be held September 23-27. Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized “sham referendums” that were not acceptable. A “parody” of French President Emmanuel Macron.
But the countries of the South are increasingly irritated that the West is turning its attention to Ukraine. Therefore, Americans and Europeans in particular have called for more to be done for food security, a consequence of this war that is affecting the whole planet, and especially the poorest countries.
– Not “the West against the rest” –
The time is not “for the opposition of the West to the rest,” hammered the French head of state.
“This is not about choosing a side between East and West or between North and South, it is the responsibility of all who cling to our most precious thing, peace (…),” he added. Russia frontally accused of being responsible for a “return of imperialism and colonialism”.
“Let’s not reconcile the breaking up of the world and the increase in threats to peace,” he stressed during a sometimes fiery speech from the podium.
“The only way to bring a glimmer of hope to this bleak picture of humanity is to strengthen international cooperation and solidarity in a just approach,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Senegalese head of state Macky Sall, chairman of the African Union, also underlined the urgency of “acting together”. “I came to say that Africa has suffered enough from the burden of history that it doesn’t want to be the home of a new Cold War,” he added.
Tensions created by the war in Ukraine reflect North-South resentments in the fight against climate change.
Poor countries, at the forefront of the devastating consequences of global warming, for which they are not responsible, are particularly struggling to ensure that rich countries finally keep their promises of financial aid.
– A “suicidal war” –
“It’s high time to put these endless discussions behind us,” said Antonio Guterres.
He attacked the big fossil-fuel-producing corporations “luxuriating” on profits inflated by the war in Ukraine, and called on rich countries to tax those profits in order to “redirect” some of them to the countries that are dying suffer from “loss and damage”. due to the devastating effects of climate change and population inflation.
Two months before the UN climate conference COP27 in Egypt, he also denounced that “climate protection” had taken a back seat to other crises and called for an end to “our suicidal war against nature”.
Due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, the schedule for the week has been disrupted. US President Joe Biden thus postponed his speech until Wednesday, while the United States, host country of the United Nations headquarters, traditionally speaks first.
Another issue preoccupying the international community is Iran’s nuclear program, whose President Ebrahim Raisi is also in New York for his first general assembly.
“The ball is now in Iran’s hands,” Emmanuel Macron stressed after a lengthy meeting with his Iranian counterpart amid negotiations underway to revive the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iranian dissidents have announced they will file a lawsuit in New York against Mr. Raisi over his role as a judge during the revolution that sentenced thousands to death.
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