UN chief says he will not give up on his push for ceasefire in war-ravaged Gaza

Antonio Guterres

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 (APP): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Sunday pledged that he would “not give up” on appealing for a humanitarian ceasefire in war-ravaged Gaza, adding that inaction on the part of the Security Council was undermining its credibility.

“The preeminent forum for the peaceful resolution of international disputes is paralyzed by geostrategic divisions”, he told the Doha Forum taking place in Qatar, following Friday’s meeting in New York during which the United States vetoed a resolution demanding that Israel and Palestinian militants end the intense fighting across the enclave which erupted on 7 October, according to a press release issued at UN Headquarters in New York.

Nearly 18,000 Palestinians have so far been killed and 49,500 wounded in deadly Israeli bombardments, including 297 in the past 24 hours.

“I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared”, said the UN chief.

“Regrettably the Security Council failed to do it but that does not make it less necessary. So, I can promise I will not give up”, he told delegates to the global platform in Qatar, which brings world leaders together to discuss collective security and other challenges.

He said a sclerotic Security Council where splits between the permanent members, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US have produced only one resolution narrowly focused on aid delivery, needed reform.

“We need a serious effort to bring global structures up to date, rooted in equality and solidarity and based on the United Nations Charter and international law”, he said, noting that the Council’s divisions were “undermining solutions from Ukraine to Myanmar and the Middle East.”

The horrific terror attacks by Hamas and resulting “relentless bombardment” of Gaza, have only produced a single resolution “which I welcome. But that delay comes at a cost”, he added.

“And the resolution is not being implemented”.

Also addressing the conference in Qatar, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said the dehumanisation of Palestinians has allowed the international community to tolerate Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza, which has led to more than 17,000 deaths since 7 October.

“There is no doubt that a humanitarian ceasefire is needed if we want to put an end to the hell of the earth right now in Gaza”, said Philippe Lazzarini.

Together with other ‘forces of fragmentation’ gaining ground, Mr. Guterres said now is the time to build bridges and find shared solutions to global challenges. Beyond the Security Council, Mr Guterres said global governance is failing to manage two existential threats.

First, on the climate catastrophe, he said far more ambition was needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure climate justice.

“Despite promises and pledges, our climate is in breakdown. Emissions are at an all-time high. And fossil fuels are a major cause,” he said and added: “Renewable energy is cheap, clean, and infinite,” and can meet the world’s growing energy demand without poisoning the environment and suffocating our planet.

He urged fossil fuel companies and their backers to use their enormous resources to lead the renewables revolution. And likewise urged leaders at COP28 in Dubai to agree on deep cuts to emissions, in line with the 1.5-degree limit.

“This is the only road not only to climate sustainability, but economic sustainability,” the Secretary-General said.

Multilateral Development Banks must change their business model and leverage far more private finance at a reasonable cost for developing countries to invest in climate action and Sustainable Development Goals.

Also, he highlighted the threat posed by new technologies, saying generative AI could provide solutions to many global challenges, but without adequate regulation, “it will also lead us into deep and troubled waters.”

“These technologies cry out for governance,” Guterres continued, lamenting that AI is already supercharging hate speech and division, enabling data harvesting and mass surveillance, and exacerbating vast inequalities.

To help advance the search for solutions, he has appointed a multistakeholder High-Level Advisory Body on AI which will provide preliminary recommendations by the end of this year. It met in New York last week.

He went on to say that reforms to global governance must be grounded in the Universal Declaration and the enduring values of the UN Charter.

Next September’s Summit of the Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for these important decisions.

APP Services