UNITED NATIONS, Nov 12 (APP): Amid geopolitical divides threatening to spark new conflicts and make older ones harder to resolve, the global economy cannot afford to be split into two opposing camps, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday.
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), according to a UN press release issued in New York.
“As I told yesterday’s summit meeting, we must avoid at all costs the division of the global economy into two parts, led by the two biggest economies – the United States and China,” he said.
“Such a rift, with two different sets of rules, two dominant currencies, two internets, and two conflicting strategies on artificial intelligence, would undermine 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 one global economy and global market with access for all.”
The UN chief also reported on some of the issues discussed at the summit, including the situation in Myanmar which he described as “an unending nightmare for the people of that country, and a threat to peace and security across the region.”
Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021 and since then, the country has been in the grip of a political, human rights and humanitarian crisis.
Guterres said ASEAN has taken a principled approach to the issue through its Five-Point Consensus.
The plan was adopted in April 2021 and calls for an immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue among the parties, appointment of a Special Envoy, provision of humanitarian assistance, and a visit to the country by the Special Envoy.
“I urge all countries, including ASEAN members, to seek a unified strategy towards Myanmar, centred on the needs and aspirations of the country’s people,” he said.
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,” Guterres told reporters.
The Secretary-General travelled to Cambodia from Egypt, where the COP27 UN climate change conference is underway.
The UN chief will next travel to Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit of the world’s major economies, which begins on Tuesday.
“My priority in Bali will be to speak up for countries in the Global South that have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and now face crises in food, energy and finance – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and crushing debt,” he said.
Guterres said he wants G20 leaders to adopt a stimulus package to provide developing countries with much-needed investments and liquidity.
The UN, he said, is also working to alleviate the global food crisis by extending a landmark initiative to get Ukrainian grain back on markets, and by removing obstacles to the Russian food and fertilizers exports.