World in ‘great peril’, UN chief warns, as leaders gather for UN General Assembly meeting 0

Warning that the world is in “great peril”, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged world leaders to tackle conflicts, climate catastrophes, increasing poverty, and inequality, as well as address divisions among major powers.

In speeches and remarks leading up to the start of the leaders’ meeting Tuesday, the top UN official said the planet “is literally on fire” and pointed to the “immense” task of saving it and of dealing with the persisting coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres also referred to “a lack of access to finance for developing countries to recover — a crisis not seen in a generation” that has an adverse impact on education, health, and women’s rights.

His remarks come as leaders are meeting in-person for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guterres also urged world leaders to address divisions among major powers that have widened since Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine in February, which saw Western countries slapping unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

The raging conflict in Ukraine is expected to top the agenda during the 77th summit of the UN General Assembly, where Guterres will deliver his “state of the world” speech on Tuesday.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be “a sober, substantive and solutions-focused report card” for a world “where geopolitical divides are putting all of us at risk.”

“There will be no sugar-coating in his remarks, but he will outline reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters Monday.