UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The head of the United Nations warns the world is in “grave peril” and says leaders, meeting in person for the first time in three years, are discussing conflict and climate catastrophe, address rising poverty and inequality and address divisions among major powers that have worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine.
In speeches and remarks before the start of the leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke of the “immense” task of not only saving the planet “which is literally on fire” but also dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 to deal with. 19 pandemic. He also pointed to “a lack of access to finance for the recovery of developing countries – a crisis unseen in a generation” that has caused education, health and women’s rights to lose ground.
Guterres will deliver his state of the world address on Tuesday at the opening of the annual high-level global gathering. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was “a sober, substantive and solution-oriented testimony” to a world “where geopolitical divisions endanger us all.”
“His statements will not be glossed over, but he will outline reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters on Monday.
The 77th General Assembly of world leaders is taking place in the shadow of the first major war in Europe since World War II – the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has sparked a global food crisis and opened rifts between the major powers, as has been the case since the common cold was no longer the case war.
But the most recent list of speakers includes almost 150 heads of state and government. It is a sign that, despite the fragmented state of the planet, the United Nations remains the premier gathering place for Presidents, Prime Ministers, Monarchs and Ministers not only to voice their views but also to meet privately to discuss the challenges on the global discuss the agenda – and hopefully make some progress.
High on the agenda for many is Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which not only threatens the sovereignty of its smaller neighbor but has also fueled fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in the country’s now Russian-occupied south-east .
Leading politicians in many countries are trying to prevent a major war and restore peace in Europe. However, diplomats do not expect any breakthroughs this week.
The loss of key grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has sparked a food crisis, particularly in developing countries, and inflation and rising living costs in many others. These issues are high on the agenda.
At a meeting Monday to promote the UN’s 2030 goals — including ending extreme poverty, ensuring a quality education for all children and achieving gender equality — Guterres said the world’s many pressing dangers make it “tempting.” to put aside our long-term development priorities. ”
But the UN chief said some things couldn’t wait – including education, decent jobs, full equality for women and girls, comprehensive healthcare and action to tackle the climate crisis. He called for public and private funding and investment, and most importantly, peace.
The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, attended by many leaders, have caused a last-minute headache for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and UN officials have grappled with changes in travel plans, the timing of events and the logistically complicated speaking schedule for world leaders.
The global gathering, known as the General Debate, was entirely virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic and hybrid in 2021. This year, the 193-member General Assembly is returning to speaking in person only, with one exception – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Despite objections from Russia and some allies, last Friday’s assembly voted to allow the Ukrainian leader to pre-record his speech for reasons beyond his control — the “ongoing foreign invasion” and military hostilities forcing him to its “national defense and security missions.”
Traditionally, Brazil has spoken first for over seven decades, having volunteered at the early sessions of the General Assembly to begin as no other country.
The US President, representing the host country at the United Nations, is traditionally the second speaker. But Joe Biden is attending the Queen’s funeral, and his speech has been pushed back to Wednesday morning. Senegalese President Macky Sall is expected to take Biden’s place.
Edith M. Lederer is chief UN correspondent for The Associated Press and has been reporting on international affairs for more than half a century. For more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, see https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly.
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