UN chief appeals for cooperation to address ‘world in peril’

UNITED NATIONS— UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for solidarity and cooperation to address a “world in peril” at the opening of the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

“We face a world in peril across our work to advance peace, human rights and sustainable development,” Guterres said, citing conflicts and climate change, a “broken global financial system,” poverty, inequality, hunger and divisions.

“Addressing common challenges will require continued solidarity as we demonstrate the great promise and potential of this organization,” he said ahead of the start of the General Assembly’s high-level event.

Next week, dozens of heads of state and government from around the world will take turns speaking at the General Assembly.

While there are currently no changes to the schedule, the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II next Monday, which many leaders are expected to attend, leaves uncertainty about the week’s proceedings.

A summit on education scheduled for Monday, for which 90 leaders had previously confirmed their attendance, will go ahead.

Guterres will not travel to London for the queen’s funeral, his spokesman said.

 The 77th session of the UN General Assembly was declared open on Tuesday by new General Assembly President Csaba Korosi.

In his opening remarks, Korosi called for solutions through solidarity, sustainability, and science.

The only way to achieve better outcomes is to transform, he said. “The contours of the transformation we need are already known. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework (for disaster risk reduction), the Paris Agreement (on climate change), and Our Common Agenda (proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ), all point us in the right direction. What remains to be seen is whether we will deliver.”

The world is looking to the United Nations for answers. As the world body’s chief deliberative body, the General Assembly bears a special responsibility, he said.

“Having begun my tenure as president, I aim to harness the great talents of this community of member states in forging the systemic solutions needed to transform our world. In accepting this privilege, I vowed to serve as an agent of multilateralism, multiculturalism, and multilingualism,” said the president. “I pledge that impartiality would be the hallmark of our operation. My team and I will do our best to push for ‘Solutions Through Solidarity, Sustainability and Science,’ the motto I’ve chosen for this presidency.”

He vowed to stand firm on the principles of the UN Charter, which brought member states together 77 years ago and hold them together today.

“Encoded in international law, they (the principles of the UN Charter) provide us with a solid foundation from which to build. From here, I wish to pursue integrated approaches and enhance the role of science in our decision-shaping. I will work to foster measurable progress in the sustainability transformation and cultivate solidarity we need to achieve breakthroughs or to avert further crises and disasters,” he said.

He promised to engage closely with the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and other relevant UN bodies to further the critical revitalization process, and pursue the ongoing key reforms led by Guterres to make the General Assembly and the United Nations as a whole fit-for-purpose.

Korosi was sworn in on Monday at the closing of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Apart from the General Debate, the high-level week will also see a high-level meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities on Sept. 21, and a high-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sept. 26.

On Monday, Sept. 19, two high-level events convened by UN Secretary-General Guterres — the Transforming Education Summit and the Sustainable Development Goals Moment — will be held.