UNITED Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says trust is on the decline, within and among nations.
He says people are losing faith in political establishments – national and global.
In his remarks on Friday at UN Security Council Open Debate on “Strengthening Multilateralism and the Role of the United Nations”, Guterres said in other realms, multilateral efforts were under immense stress.
“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade,” he said.
“It is a period when people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers in search of safety or opportunity. We are still wrestling with the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and only beginning to reckon with the potential dangers of new technologies.”
Guterres said there was anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world.
“Trust is on the decline, within and among nations. People are losing faith in political establishments – national and global,” he said.
“Key assumptions have been upended, key endeavours undermined, and key institutions undercut. It often seems that the more global the threat, the less able we are to cooperate. This is very dangerous in the face of today’s challenges, for which global approaches are essential.”
Guterres said “in this difficult context, we need to inspire” a return to international cooperation.
“We need a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system,” he said.
Guteres said in the end multilateralism was nothing more than countries coming together, respecting one another, and establishing the forms of cooperation that guarantee peace and prosperity for all in a healthy planet.
He called for stronger commitment to a rules-based order, with the UN at its centre, with the different institutions and treaties that bring the Charter to life.
“But it is not enough to have laws and international conventions, vital as they are. We need new forms of cooperation with other international and regional organisations – a networked multilateralism,” Guterres said.
“And we need closer links with civil society and other stakeholders – an inclusive multilateralism.”
He said the Security Council had a central role to play in showing the value of international cooperation.
“I think we can all agree that crises in Syria, in the Middle East peace process and elsewhere have shaken popular faith in the potential of the international community to deliver solutions,” Guterres said. “I encourage you to do more to overcome divisions, embrace the prevention and peacebuilding agendas, and make greater use of mediation and the other tools set out in Chapter VI of the Charter for the resolution of disputes through peaceful means.”
He urged for a surge in diplomacy.
“There should be no room for demonising minorities, migrants and refugees, and for stifling the diversity that enriches societies,” Guterres said. “As we mark the centennial of the First World War, we must draw its lessons, and buttress our practice of multilateralism for the tests and threats of today and tomorrow.”
Guterrez said as 21st-century challenges threatened to outpace 20th-century institutions and mindsets, “let us reaffirm the ideals of collective action while pursuing a new generation of approaches and architecture capable of responding.”