Mr Guterres was speaking to journalists a day after addressing regional leaders attending the 12th summit between the UN and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Avoid at all costs
“As I told the summit yesterday, we must avoid at all costs the division of the world economy into two parts, led by the two largest economies – the United States and China,” he said.
“Such a divide, with two different sets of rules, two dominant currencies, two Internets, and two conflicting strategies on artificial intelligence, would undermining the world’s capacity to respond to the dramatic challenges we face“.
He said ASEAN countries are well placed to bridge this divide, stressing that “we must have a global economy and global market with access for everyone.”
‘Unending nightmare’ in Myanmar
The UN chief also reported on some of the issues discussed at the summit, including the situation in Myanmar, which he described as “an endless nightmare for the people of that country, and a threat to peace and security throughout the region.”
The Myanmar military took power in February 2021 and since then the country has been in the grip of a political, human rights and humanitarian crisis.
Unified strategy needed
The plan was adopted in April 2021 and calls for an immediate cessation of violence, a constructive dialogue between the parties, the appointment of a special envoy, the provision of humanitarian aid, and a visit to the country by the special envoy.
“I urge all countries, including ASEAN members, to seek a unified strategy towards Myanmar, centered on the needs and aspirations of the country’s people,” he said.
Solutions for turbulent times
The war in Ukraine, the global energy and food crisis, and the climate emergency were also on the agenda at the day-long summit.
“In these turbulent times, regional organizations including ASEAN are essential to building global solutions,” Mr Guterres told reporters.
The Secretary General traveled from Egypt to Cambodia, where the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference is underway.
Climate Solidarity Pact
Mr. Guterres calls for a climate solidarity pact for developed and emerging economies to combine resources and capacities to defeat climate change.
He also pressed the leaders to reach an agreement on a financial mechanism to support countries that suffer loss and damage from climate disasters.
The UN chief will next travel to Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit of the world’s major economies, which begins on Tuesday.
Stimulus package proposal
“My priority in Bali will be to speak to countries in the Global South that have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and are now facing crises in food, energy and finance – aggravated by the war in Ukraine and crying debt ,” he said.
Mr. Guterres wants G20 leaders to adopt a stimulus package to provide developing countries with much-needed investment and liquidity.
The UN is also working to alleviate the global food crisis by extending a landmark initiative to get Ukrainian grain to markets, and by removing obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer exports.
Answer to questions
The Secretary General was asked his view on human rights in the ASEAN region, and in the host country Cambodia.
Although the situation is different from country to country, he emphasized that human rights are fully respected.
“Actually, my appeal, and indeed my appeal in a country like Cambodia is for the public space to be open and for To protect human rights defenders and climate activistsand for Cooperation with civil society to be extended,” he said.
The Secretary-General also expressed concern for Myanmar, saying there are systematic violations of human rights there “absolutely unacceptable” in the causing immense suffering for the population.
Hope for Indonesian presidency
Asked about UN and ASEAN cooperation to resolve the Myanmar crisis, he said it was important that the five-point consensus move forward.
Indonesia will chair ASEAN next year, and Mr Guterres expressed hope that his presidency will see the development of initiatives towards this goal.
“We have to go back to a democracy, to a transition to democracy. We have to release political prisoners. We have to build an inclusive process, and I am confident that the Indonesian presidency will work hard in that respect in the coming year.
Peace in Ukraine
Mr. Guterres also emphasized the clear position of the UN on Ukraine and again answered a journalist’s question.
The Russian invasion was a Violation of the UN Charterhe said, and a violation of the territorial integrity of the country.
At the same time, he emphasizes that it is very important to create the conditions to gradually rebuild the dialogue that will lead to a future where peace will prevail, adding “not just any peace – peace based on the values of the UN Charter , and peace based on international law”.