UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Warning that the world is in “great danger,” the head of the United Nations says leaders meeting in person for the first time in three years must address conflicts and climate catastrophes, increasing poverty and inequality, and addressing divisions. among the major powers that have worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine.
In speeches and remarks before the start of the leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited the “immense” task of not only saving the planet, “which is literally on fire,” but addressing the persistence of COVID-19. 19 pandemic. He also noted “developing countries’ lack of access to finance to recover, a crisis not seen in a generation” that has seen education, health and women’s rights lose ground women.
Guterres will deliver his “state of the world” address at Tuesday’s opening of the global high-level meeting. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be “a sober, substantive and solutions-focused report card” for a world “where geopolitical divisions put us all at risk.”
“There will be no sugar coating in his comments, but he will outline the reasons for hope,” Dujarric told reporters on Monday.
The General Assembly’s 77th meeting of world leaders meets in the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II: the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has triggered a global food crisis and opened fissures between the great powers in a way not seen since the Cold. war
However, nearly 150 heads of state and government are on the list of final speakers. This is a sign that, despite the fragmented state of the planet, the United Nations remains the key meeting place for presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and ministers not only to express their views, but to meet privately to discuss the challenges of the global agenda, and hopefully. make some progress
At the top of that agenda for many: Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which not only threatens the sovereignty of its smaller neighbor but has raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe at the center Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in the southeast of the country now occupied by Russia.
Leaders of many countries are trying to prevent a wider war and restore peace in Europe. Diplomats, however, do not expect any progress this week.
The loss of important grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has led to a food crisis, especially in developing countries, and inflation and a rising cost of living in many others. These issues are one of the priorities on the agenda.
At a meeting on Monday to promote the UN’s 2030 goals, including ending extreme poverty, ensuring quality education for all children and achieving gender equality, Guterres said the many pressing dangers of the world make it “tempting to set aside our long-term development priorities”. “
But the UN chief said some things cannot wait, including education, decent jobs, full equality for women and girls, comprehensive health care and action to tackle the climate crisis. He asked for public and private funding and investments, and above all for peace.
The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, attended by many world leaders, have created last-minute headaches for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and UN staff have struggled to cope with changes in travel plans, the calendar of events and the logistically complex agenda of speaking to world leaders.
The global meeting, known as the General Debate, went completely virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic, and hybrid in 2021. This year, the 193-member General Assembly is returning to in-person speeches only, with one exception: the Ukrainian President Volodymyr. Zelensky.
Over objections from Russia and some allies, the assembly voted last Friday to allow the Ukrainian leader to pre-record his speech for reasons beyond his control: the “ongoing foreign invasion” and military hostilities that force him to carry out their “national defense and security duties”.
By tradition, Brazil has spoken first for more than seven decades because, in the first sessions of the General Assembly, it volunteered to start when no other country did.
The President of the United States, representing the host country at the United Nations, is traditionally the second speaker. But Joe Biden is attending the Queen’s funeral and his speech has been pushed up to Wednesday morning. Senegalese President Macky Sall is expected to take Biden’s place.
Edith M. Lederer is chief UN correspondent for The Associated Press and has covered international affairs for more than half a century. For more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly.