At the UN, the fear of divisions in the face of an avalanche of crises

“Fractures”, “paralyzed” world, need for “solidarity”: the leaders who succeeded one another on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly podium warned against the dangerous divisions of a world which is already undergoing a piling up of crises, from the war in Ukraine to global warming.

“The purchasing power crisis is unleashed, confidence is crumbling, inequalities are exploding, our planet is burning” and despite everything, “we are blocked by a colossal global dysfunction”, lamented UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres by opening this high-level week of the General Assembly, which resumed in person after two years marked by the Covid-19.

“These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of the planet,” he said. “Let us be under no illusions (…) A winter of global discontent looms on the horizon.”

Among the dangers that threaten the world mentioned by the Secretary General, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, at the heart of this high-level diplomatic week. With in particular an intervention on Wednesday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – by video thanks to a special authorization voted last week by the member states – and a Security Council on Thursday at the level of Foreign Ministers.

Last development in this conflict, the authorities installed by Moscow in four regions of Ukraine announced Tuesday the urgent holding, from September 23 to 27, of “referendums” of annexation by Russia. “Mock referendums” which are not acceptable, denounced German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. A “parody” for French President Emmanuel Macron.

But the countries of the South are increasingly irritated by the fact that Westerners are focusing their attention on Ukraine. So Americans and Europeans called in particular to do more for food security, a consequence of this war from which the whole planet is suffering, and in particular the poorest countries.

Not “the West against the rest”

The time is not “for the opposition of the West against the rest”, for his part hammered the French head of state.

“It is not a question here of choosing a side between East and West, nor between North and South, it is the responsibility of all those who are attached (…) to our good the most precious, peace”, he added, accusing Russia head-on of being responsible for a “return of imperialism and colonialism”.

AFP

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on September 20, 2022 in New York

“Let us not resign ourselves to the fracturing of the world and the rise of threats to peace,” he insisted during a sometimes fiery speech from the podium.

“The only way to bring a glimmer of hope to this bleak picture facing humanity is to strengthen international cooperation and solidarity in a just approach,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

An urgency to “act together” also underlined by the Senegalese head of state Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union. “I have come to say that Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history, that it does not want to be the home of a new cold war,” he added.

The tensions caused by the war in Ukraine echo the North-South resentment in the fight against climate change.

Poor countries, on the front line of the devastating impacts of global warming for which they are not responsible, are fighting in particular to ensure that rich countries finally keep their promises of financial aid.

A “suicidal war”

“It is high time to move beyond these endless discussions,” said Antonio Guterres.

Attacking the large companies producing fossil fuels which “revel” in profits inflated by the war in Ukraine, he also called on the rich countries to tax these profits in order to “redirect” them in part to the countries suffering from “loss and damage” due to the devastating impacts of climate change and to populations experiencing inflation.

Two months before the UN COP27 climate conference in Egypt, “climate action has taken a back seat” to other crises, he also denounced, calling for an end to “our suicidal war against nature”.

Due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, the schedule for the week has been disrupted. US President Joe Biden thus postponed his speech to Wednesday, while the United States, host country of the United Nations headquarters, traditionally speaks first.

Another subject of concern to the international community is Iran’s nuclear program, whose President Ebrahim Raisi is also in New York for his first General Assembly.

“The ball is now in Iran’s court”, insisted Emmanuel Macron after a long meeting with his Iranian counterpart as negotiations are underway to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement supposed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. atomic bomb.

Iranian dissidents have announced the filing of a lawsuit in New York against Mr. Raisi for his role as a judge during the revolution in which thousands of people were sentenced to death.

At the UN, the fear of divisions in the face of an avalanche of crises