| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Alarm to wake up world: Key points from strong speech by Secretary General Antonio Guterres at UNGA

COVID-19 pandemic, a global climate crisis, and unrest in Afghanistan and other countries are examples that the world has never been more threatened or more divided, and is facing the “greatest cascade” of crises, warned UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.

In his address to the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Guterres stated that human rights are under attack, science is under attack, and economic lifelines for the most vulnerable are arriving too late and too little, if at all, and solidarity is lacking in action just when the world needs it most.

Here are the highlights of his strong speech:

  • “I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial, and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence, — and ultimately, two different military and geopolitical strategies,” he said.
  • “I am here to sound the alarm: The world must wake up. We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction. Our world has never been more threatened. Or more divided. We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes,”.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 4.6 million people and infected over 228 million people globally, has exposed glaring inequalities among nations over vaccine access and affordability.
  • “More than 5.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but only 2 per cent of them in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).Perhaps one image tells the tale of our times. The picture we have seen from some parts of the world of COVID-19 vaccine doses… in the garbage. Expired and unused, ” Guterres said.
  • The UN chief noted that while on the one hand, vaccines have been developed in a record time, on the other hand, “we see that triumph undone by the tragedy of a lack of political will, selfishness, and mistrust.”
  • “A surplus in some countries. Empty shelves in others. A majority of the wealthier world is vaccinated. Over 90 per cent of Africans are still waiting for their first dose. This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity, “.