"Strong commitment" needed "to reform multilateral organizations": UN chief

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Secretary-General António Guterres. Photo: United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK)

A "strong commitment" is needed to reform multilateral organizations like the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres said in a major speech in London on Wednesday.

The UN chief was addressing the UN Association in the United Kingdom, close to the Houses of Parliament.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Guterres told a crowd of close to 2,000 people gathered in historic Central Hall, Westminister, that there were three major challenges facing the world today.

Conflicts had become much more complex, spilling over from internal strife to become regional conflicts, often linked to the growing threat of terrorism, he said.

Second, he described the increasing fragility of many countries and regions, fuelled by "global mega-trends" such as population growth, climate change, and uncontrolled migration.

Thirdly he pointed to the mistrust and anger which years of globalization had left behind:

"When one looks at globalization it is clear that globalization has generated – together with technological progress – enormous increase in global wealth and global trade, that globalization has had a very positive impact in the well-being of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world, that the number of absolute poor has been considerably reduced. But at the same time it is also true that globalization and technological progress have contributed to increased inequality and has left people behind…To rescue multilateralism…we need to have a strong commitment to reform multilateral organizations."

He said that profitable "green" businesses were important to help limit temperature rises in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and he highlighted the UN's role in driving the public-private climate partnership.

Finally, he stressed the need to champion the human rights agenda, which was losing ground to a rising emphasis on national sovereignty in countries around the world.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’32″

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