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‘World on edge of an abyss,’ UN Secretary General Guterres warns

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, the US, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned global leaders that today’s world is the most threatened and divided one, as “we face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetime.”

Addressing the annual UN General Assembly’s gathering of world leaders in New York, Guterres said, “We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction,” adding that there are “supersized glaring inequalities” sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He blamed the world for the unfair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the majority of the wealthier world are immunized while more than 90% of Africa has not even received one dose.

"This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity. We passed the science test. But we are getting an F in Ethics," Guterres told the UN General Assembly.

The UN chief also pointed to the turmoil in Afghanistan and Yemen which hindered global peace, and a wave of mistrust and misinformation “polarizing people and paralyzing societies,” and complained that the solidarity of nations to tackle these crises “is missing in action -- just when we need it most.”

Guterres said that people may not only lose trust in government and institutions, but also in basic values “when they see billionaire’s joyriding to space while millions go hungry on earth.”

He urged world leaders, specifically the United States and China, to engage in dialogue in order to bridge gaps to promote peace, warning of an increasingly divided world.

“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,” Guterres lamented.

“This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War. To restore trust and inspire hope, we need cooperation.”

Last year, no leader personally attended the UN Assembly due to COVID-19, but this year, about two-thirds of the 193 member states have traveled to New York to attend the meeting which ends on September 27.


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