At the U.N. General Assembly's high level meeting for leaders from its 193 member countries, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised the alarm with his annual state of the world speech. For the first time in nearly two years, more than 100 heads of government and state who were kept out by COVID-19 will be returning to the U.N. in their own person. With the pandemic still in full swing, 60 of these heads will make pre-recorded statements to the U.N. over the next few days.
Guterres stated, "We are at the edge of an abyss -- and we are moving in the wrong directions." "I am here to sound the alarm. The world needs to wake up.
Guterres stated that the world is now more divided and threatened than ever before. He said that people may lose faith in their government and institutions as well as in basic values when they see their human right curtailed, corruption and no future for their children. "When they see billionaires riding to space, while millions of people go hungry on Earth."
The U.N. chief however stated that he still has hope.
Guterres called on world leaders to address six "great divides". He urged them to promote peace and end conflict, restore trust between richer and less developed norths in tackling global warming, promote gender equality, reduce the gap between richer and poorer peoples, and ensure that half of humanity has access to the internet by 2030.
Other pressing issues that are on the agenda for world leaders include increasing U.S.-China tensions and Afghanistan's uncertain future under its new Taliban rulers as well as ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Ethiopia's Tigray region.
On Tuesday morning, the three most watched speakers were U.S. President Joe Biden who will be appearing at the U.N. in his first appearance since defeating Donald Trump in November. Chinese President Xi Jinping will also speak, and Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hardline president, will surprise everyone.
Biden also called this moment "an important turning point in history" and stated that the United States must "engage deeply with the rest the world in order to be successful."
He called for "relentless diplomacy", global cooperation on COVID-19 and climate change, and pledged to work alongside allies.
Biden almost certainly responded to Secretary-General Guterres in an AP interview this weekend warning that the world could fall into a new, potentially more dangerous Cold War unless China and the United States repair their "totally dysfunctional” relationship.
France, America's oldest ally and adamantly supporting the U.S. president, has criticized his secret agreement to supply a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia last week. This deal, which was announced by the Biden administration with UK support, overturns a French-Australian contract worth at least $66billion to build 12 French diesel-electric submarines.
Guterres warned that the world could fall into a new, potentially more dangerous Cold War if the United States and China do not repair their "totally dysfunctional” relationship.
Biden stated that he wasn't seeing a new Cold War, or a world divided, and that Washington was ready to work with any country, "even if there is intense disagreement in others."
Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, stated Monday at a press conference that there was a "crisisof trust" between France and the United States. He also mentioned Europe which has been excluded in the US-UK-Australia alliance, which is focused on the Indo-Pacific, and aimed to confront China. He stated that Europeans should not be ignored and must define their strategic interests.
According to the latest speakers' list, China was expected to deliver its speech on Friday by a deputy Prime Minister. The U.N. has confirmed that Xi will be giving the country's video address. Any comments he makes about the U.S. rivalry will be closely monitored and analyzed. China's presence on the globe and its relationship to the United States have a profound impact on almost every corner of the globe.
Tradition dictates that Brazil was the first country to speak. However, Jairbolsonaro, Brazil's president, dismissed criticism about his administration's handling the pandemic. He also highlighted recent data showing less Amazon deforestation. He claimed he was trying to change the negative image Brazil is given in the media and promoted Brazil as a place that can be invested.
Bolsonaro stated that his government had distributed the first doses to most adults. However, he doesn't support vaccination passports or forcing anyone into getting a shot. Bolsonaro stated several times that he is still unvaccinated during the week.
Bolsonaro stated to the General Assembly that "By November, everybody who chooses to get vaccinated in Brazil" would be done.
He also increased the use of "early treatment" methods like hydroxychloroquine without naming it. Brazil's government promoted the antimalarial even after scientists dismissed it as ineffective against COVID-19.
The common theme of speeches was alarm over global warming. President of the tiny Indian Ocean island country of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, stated that further rises in temperatures were a "death sentence".
"One thing is certain. "One overarching fact remains. The environmental destruction that small islands states are experiencing now will undoubtedly catch up to larger nations sooner or later. Solih warned that there is no guarantee of survival in a world without the Maldives.
He said that the organization was still the pinnacle for what concerted diplomacy could achieve.
Guterres' opening speech highlighted the "supersized glaring disparities" caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Climate alarm bells were "ringing at fever pitch," global upheavals from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Yemen that thwart global peace. A surge of mistrust, misinformation, and "polarizing people, paralyzing societies," and put human rights "under attack."
He said that the solidarity of nations in tackling these and other crises was "missing in action at a time when it is most needed." We see hubris instead of humility when faced with these monumental challenges."