UN chief advocates for hope
General Debate must be about ‘overcoming divisions’
Published: Sep 15, 2022 08:55 PM
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that next week's General Debate of the General Assembly must be about hope.

"This year's General Debate must be about providing hope and overcoming the divisions that are dramatically impacting the world," he told a press conference ahead of the high-level week of the General Assembly session.

"That hope can only come through the dialogue and debate that are the beating heart of the United Nations and that must prevail next week against all divisions," he said.

People need to see results in their everyday lives, or they will lose faith in their governments and institutions, and they will lose hope in the future, he warned.

Guterres said his opening speech on Tuesday to the General Debate will address the urgent issues with concrete recommendations and a call to action. "As fractures deepen and trust evaporates, we need to come together around solutions," he said.

The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril. Geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the Cold War. They are paralyzing the global response to the dramatic challenges the world faces, he said. "Our world is blighted by war, battered by climate chaos, scarred by hate, and shamed by poverty, hunger, and inequality."

Conflicts and unrest continue to rage. The conflict in Ukraine is devastating a country and dragging down the global economy. Global hunger began to rise before the COVID-19 pandemic and has never recovered. The cost-of-living crisis is hitting the poorest people and communities hardest, with dramatic effects. The rights of women and girls are going into reverse. Most developing countries have no fiscal space, and no access to the financial resources needed to recover from the pandemic and protect their people from the devastating impact of climate change, Guterres said.

"The solidarity envisioned in the UN Charter is being devoured by the acids of nationalism and self-interest - by a shocking disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable in our world; by politicians who play to people's worst instincts for partisan gain; by prejudice, discrimination, misinformation and hate speech that pit people against one another; by a global financial system that penalizes those with the least; by fossil fuel corporations killing the planet to rake in the most," said the UN chief.

Guterres said he was shocked by the destruction caused by floods in Pakistan during his recent trip, and called for climate action.

What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it, he said. "Whether it is Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, small islands or least developed countries, the world's most vulnerable, who did nothing to cause this crisis, are paying a horrific price for decades of intransigence by big emitters."