UN chief calls for united front to fight ‘global fire’

By Mario Villar

United Nations, Jan 21 (EFE).- The chief of the United Nations on Friday demanded cooperation from global powers to fight a series of crises that are causing a “global fire.”

The Covid-19 pandemic, a “morally bankrupt” global financial system, the climate crisis, “lawlessness in cyberspace,” and conflicts were the five major problems identified by Secretary General António Guterres, which he described as a “five-alarm fire” in a speech in which he presented his priorities for 2022.

“Our responses to the five emergencies I have laid out today will determine the course of people and planet for decades to come,” warned the Portuguese politician, who insisted that all these crises are fixable with “solidarity.”

However, Guterres warned that mistrust between international powers is approaching a critical juncture that could cause the world to fall into “chaos” if the current geopolitical divides are not managed.

“We face a cauldron of political unrest and ferocious conflicts,” he said in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, in which he stressed that the world is registering the “highest number of violent conflicts since 1945,” a worrying proliferation of coups and an increase in human rights violations.

“Populism, nativism, white supremacy and other forms of racism and extremism are poisoning social cohesion and institutions everywhere,” he said.

Regarding the pandemic, the UN chief said that stopping the spread of the Covid-19 must continue to be a priority for all countries.

“Omicron is yet another warning. The next variant may be worse,” said Guterres, who added that vaccine “distribution is scandalously unequal” with “vaccination rates in high-income countries (…) seven times higher than in the countries of Africa.”

He also denounced that the “divergence between developed and developing countries is becoming systemic – a recipe for instability, crisis and forced migration.”

“Let’s tell it like it is: the global financial system is morally bankrupt. It favors the rich and punishes the poor,” said Guterres, whose demands included a framework for alleviating and restructuring public debt, a fairer tax system – one that more broadly distributes some of the trillions of dollars accumulated by the richest during the pandemic, and measures against illicit financial flows.

In 2022, the fight against the climate crisis will continue to be one of the highest priorities of the UN, which urges an “avalanche of action” to try reduce global emissions.

Guterres also promised to promote measures that respond to the biggest problems of the digital space “where global governance barely exists at all. We must go into emergency mode to put humanity at the center of technology,” he said, including strong regulatory frameworks change the business models of social media companies.

As he denounced, these companies benefit from “algorithms that prioritize addiction, outrage and anxiety at the cost of public safety.”

“Our personal information is being exploited to control or manipulate us, change our behaviors, violate our human rights, and undermine democratic institutions. Our choices are taken away from us without us even knowing it,” he warned. EFE


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