UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system to deal with today’s global challenges.
“Toward that end, we need a stronger commitment to a rules-based order, with the United Nations at its center, with the different institutions and treaties that bring the (UN) Charter to life,” Guterres told an open debate of the Security Council on strengthening multilateralism and the role of the United Nations.
“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 organizations — a networked multilateralism. And we need closer links with civil society and other stakeholders — an inclusive multilateralism.”
The world is facing many challenges. But at the same time, trust is on the decline, within and among nations. People are losing faith in political establishments, national and global. Key assumptions have been upended, key endeavors undermined, and key institutions undercut, he said.
“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade. 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.”
There is anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world, he said. “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.”
Multilateralism is 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 explained.
“As 21st century challenges threaten 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,” he said.
Guterres stressed the necessity to stick to the UN Charter.
“Reform of the United Nations has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort. But most of all it is our resilient and still visionary UN Charter that points the way — with its articulation of universal values, its grounding in peace, development, human rights and the rule of law, and its vision of countries living as good neighbors and sharing a common fate and future,” he said. “Strengthening multilateralism means strengthening our commitment to the charter. Such a commitment is needed now more than ever — from all around this table, and around our world.”
The Security Council has a central role to play in showing the value of international cooperation, said Guterres.
The UN Charter endows the Security Council with special stature, powers and responsibilities, and therefore this body also bears the burden of not just its own but the world body’s overall reputation, he said.
“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. 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 encouraged all UN member states to make greater investments in building a fair globalization that works for all, and in social cohesion that gives a stake in society to all. “There should be no room for demonizing minorities, migrants and refugees, and for stifling the diversity that enriches societies,” he said.
Guterres noted that the Security Council open debate was held just days before the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Europe was multipolar at that time. But that was not enough to keep violence at bay. Without multilateral mechanisms for international problem solving, war erupted and lasted for years, he 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,” said the UN chief.