UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
File Photo

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 21 (APP):The United Nations marked its 75th anniversary Monday, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for improving world governance as he pointed to a surplus of multilateral challenges, but a deficit of solutions.

“No one wants a world government — but we must work together to improve world governance,” he said in the UN General Assembly hall where the anniversary meeting was held, with sharply reduced number of delegates attending , while observing social distancing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Today we have a surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions, the UN chief said.

At the same time, he said, “Never in modern history have we gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers, this is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud and which we must always strive to preserve.”

Guterres said much remained to be done, however. He called gender inequality the “greatest single challenge for human rights” globally. Biodiversity “collapsing”, hatred that was engendering geopolitical tensions and increasing the threat from nuclear weapons, were among the challenges the Secretary General listed.

“And the COVID-19 pandemic as laid bare the world’s fragilities. We can only address them together today. We have a surplus of multilateral challenges and the deficit of multilateral solutions,”

The commemoration of the landmark 75 years of the world organization is largely virtual as world leaders did not travel to New York due to the pandemic raging across the world that has in over six months infected more than 30 million people and will soon reach a grim milestone of over a million deaths.

The special UNGA event to mark the 75th anniversary was held on the eve of high-level General Debate beginning on Tuesday.

For the week-long debate, Heads of State and Government, including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, will deliver their speeches through pre-recorded video statements, a first in the 75-year history of the world body.

On this occasion, the 193 UN Member States also adopted by consensus a political Declaration commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

In his remarks, Guterres said the world has seen historic accomplishments including peace treaties and peacekeeping, decolonization, human rights standards and mechanisms to uphold them, triumph over apartheid, eradication of diseases, steady reduction of hunger and landmark agreements to protect the environment and the planet – most recently, unanimous agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide an inspiring vision for the 21st Century.

He said no other global organization gives hope to so many people for a better world.
Reminding participants that the UN “is only as strong as its members’ commitment to its ideals and each other”, he made a strong call on Member States to act together: “It is now time to mobilize your resources, strengthen your efforts and show unprecedented political will and leadership, to ensure the future we want, and the United Nations we need”.

The top UN official maintained that multilateralism is a necessity in building back “better and greener” for a more equal, resilient, and sustainable world.

He stressed that the UN must be at the centre of these efforts, and that “an upgraded UN must respond to these challenges and changes to stay relevant and effective”.

During his opening remarks, Volkan Bozkir, the new President of the General Assembly, evoked the “smouldering wreckage” of World War Two, which, he said, demonstrated the clear need for a forum that could harmonize the actions of nations, an aim the UN has been striving to achieve over the past 75 years.

The GA President mentioned various achievements, including the development of arms control regimes to prevent nuclear conflict, peacekeeping Missions that have kept the peace and protected civilians, and electoral assistance, which has reinforced public trust in democracy, including in crucial transition periods.

Looking ahead, he said that an “upgraded” UN must respond to today’s challenges: earlier this month, UN News interviewed Bozkir, to discuss the ways the UN can remain relevant in the decades to come, why he will be making the protection of vulnerable people and communities a key issue, and how he intends to cope with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.