We the Peoples: In Conversation with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Preview Language:   English
10-Jan-2021 00:46:44
The UN Secretary-General delivers his first major speech of the year at a virtual event that offers a powerful opportunity to communicate why the UN remains the best global forum to find solutions to the challenges we face – from the climate emergency to COVID-19, conflict – to a broad and diverse global audience. The event will also serve as a global commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary, with the UN returning – virtually – to London, where it held its first meetings in 1946.

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In his first major speech of the year, the UN Secretary-General underlined the need for global cooperation to address today’s challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

António Guterres was speaking on Sunday during a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, which was held in London.

“The work of the General Assembly has helped to boost global health, literacy, and living standards, and to promote human rights and gender equality,” he said, reflecting on some of its accomplishments since then.

The General Assembly is familiarly known as the world’s town hall.

It is the place where UN Member States can peacefully address their differences and find solutions to global challenges, according to the current President, Volkan Bozkir of Turkey.

“Over the past 75 years, we have achieved more together than we could have apart,” he said in a video message for the online commemoration, which was co-hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

“As we move into the next 75 years and our world becomes ever more connected, let us tighten those bonds, so we can best protect and deliver for the peoples we serve.”

While the international community can be proud of its collective accomplishments, the Secretary-General stressed the need for greater action in the face of pressing issues, including the pandemic.

Following the official segment, the Secretary-General answered questions from several young people working in areas such as climate action, gender equality, global health and peace.

Josie Naughton, co-founder of Choose Love, an organization that supports people displaced by conflict or persecution, asked about his appeal for a global ceasefire during the pandemic. She wondered if it could be a reality.

Mr. Guterres reported on tentative progress, including in Syria, Libya and South Sudan, but noted that conflict still rages in places such as Yemen. He cited mistrust and “spoilers”, or external involvement in a country’s affairs, as obstacles to peace.

“Look at Libya: the spoilers are making it much more difficult to move forward after the ceasefire into a political solution. And we need to make sure that we are able to put an end to this kind of interference of countries that undermine the possibility of those that are in conflict in one country to come together,” he said.

The Secretary-General underscored the importance of a unified UN Security Council, and for major powers to overcome their differences and work together.

“We need a strong Security Council able to take decisions and to implement them to make sure the ceasefires that are declared are implemented, and those that have not yet been possible become possible.”

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