The intergovernmental organization is more divided at present than it was during the Cold War, its leader has said
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the world is moving towards an “age of chaos” as a divided Security Council struggles to adapt to critical geopolitical issues and ongoing global crises.
In his annual address presenting his priorities for 2024 to the Security Council in New York, Guterres said that conflicts and wars across the globe are creating a “dangerous and unpredictable” reality for innocent civilians.
“For millions of people caught up in conflict around the world, life is a deadly, daily, hungry hell,” Guterres told the UN’s General Assembly. This “age of chaos,” as he described it, has created a “dangerous and unpredictable free-for-all” at a time when the United Nations Security Council “is deadlocked by geopolitical fissures.”
Among the issues dividing the UN, Guterres said, is Israel’s war in Gaza. He added that he was “especially alarmed” by reports that Israel intends to focus its military offensive in the southern area of the besieged enclave, where more than a million people have sought shelter from aerial and ground bombardment.
“Such an action would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare, with untold regional consequences,” he warned.
The secretary-general was also critical of states seeking to bolster their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, measures that, he said, serve only to increase global insecurity and inflame regional tensions.
“After decades of nuclear disarmament, states are competing to make their nuclear arsenals faster, stealthier and more accurate,” he said. The weapons are being developed without guardrails, he added, “creating new ways to kill each other – and for humanity to annihilate itself.”
Guterres stated that, while the Security Council has experienced division in the past, “today’s dysfunction is deeper and more dangerous.”
“During the Cold War, well-established mechanisms helped manage superpower relations” he said. “In today’s multipolar world, such mechanisms are missing.”
The UN chief also called on member states to “make peace with the planet” by committing to reducing harmful emissions and working to phase out fossil fuels, pointing out that humanity’s “war with nature” is a “crazy fight to pick.”
Amid the bleak global outlook, Guterres called on world leaders to come together for the ‘Summit of the Future’ to be held in New York in September, adding that it was an opportunity for global leaders to “shape multilateralism for years to come.”