Ending Wars, Addressing Existential Crises — Global Issues


“The central goal of our multilateral system must be peace – a prerequisite for sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights,” he told the heads of state attending the largest regional organizational meeting in the world in the capital of Kazakhstan.

António Guterres named several conflicts where a ceasefire and lasting peace are needed, from the Middle East to Ukraine and from Sudan to the Sahel, but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Myanmar and Haiti.

“We need peace in Afghanistan and an inclusive government that respects human rights and is integrated into the international community. All countries must unite to prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a hotbed of terrorism again,” he told the Council of the SCO, the world’s largest regional security body that includes Belarus, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

With such a broad representation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has the power and responsibility to bring about peace, the head of the universal organization stressed.

Existential threats

The UN Secretary-General stressed that the meeting in Astana took place amid raging wars, geopolitical divisions, “an epidemic of impunity” and a backsliding on sustainable development – ​​a key global goal – which had caused cynicism and a crisis of confidence.

These global challenges cannot be solved on a country-by-country basis. This is the moment to reaffirm our shared commitment to multilateralism, with the United Nations at its center. bound by the principles set out in the UN Charterinternational law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights“, said the UN chief, warning that people are losing faith in multilateralism as they point to broken promises, double standards and growing inequalities.

The UN Secretary-General also stressed the urgent need for collective action against two looming existential challenges: the climate crisis and the unbridled rise of digital technologies, especially AI.

Climate collapse

UN climate experts have confirmed that while 2023 was the warmest year on record, it could soon be seen as one of the coolest in a rapidly warming future. The Secretary-General warned that the devastating impacts of our changing climate are already visible in melting glaciers, deadly floods, storms, droughts and extreme heat waves ravaging countries around the world.

“Our climate is collapsing,” he said, highlighting the dire consequences for water and food security, development and global stability. The call to action must be clear, he insisted, calling for ambitious measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate justice, with the greatest responsibility falling on the world’s biggest emitters.

Mr Guterres outlined solutions to the global climate crisis and urged all governments to submit new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) next year, fully aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These NDCs should include absolute emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2035 and outline plans for crucial global transitions, with key actions including ending deforestation, tripling renewable energy capacity and reducing fossil fuel production and consumption by at least 30 percent by 2030. In addition, countries should commit to completely phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2040, the UN chief said.

Financial mobilization for climate action

The Secretary-General stressed the crucial role of finance in supporting climate action and called for a strong financial outcome from COP29, the global climate conference to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November. He stressed the need to expand the lending capacity of multilateral development banks and attract more private capital to climate initiatives. Developed countries should also double their financing for climate adaptation and meet their commitments, including substantial contributions to the new Loss and Damage Fund, the UN chief said.

To support these efforts, the Secretary-General advocated for innovative financial mechanisms, including carbon pricing and taxes on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies. He called on early adopters to implement solidarity levies on sectors such as shipping, aviation and fossil fuel extraction before COP29.

AI: balancing potential and risk

On AI – the second existential threat to the planet – the Secretary-General stressed the transformative potential of the technology to accelerate sustainable development. However, he warned that AI is advancing faster than regulatory frameworks can keep up, increasing power inequalities, concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, undermining human rights and heightening global tensions.

To address these challenges, the UN AI Chief Advisory Body outlined five priorities: establishing an international scientific panel on AI, initiating regular policy dialogues to develop common ethics and standards for AI, ensuring governance of the data used to train AI algorithms, and supporting capacity building in developing countries through a global fund. Mr. Guterres also proposed the creation of a compact, dynamic and flexible UN AI office to oversee these efforts.

Top of the future

The Secretary-General expressed the hope that the coming Top of the future will be a turning point in renewing global unity and addressing the existential threats facing humanity. “I look forward to welcoming you to New York in September,” he said, before urging leaders of the regional bloc to seize this crucial opportunity for collective action.

The UN Secretary-General attended the SCO summit during his tour of Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The trip covered a range of topics, from peace and non-proliferation to sustainable development.

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