‘Global governance stuck in time’: Guterres calls for Security Council reform to prevent ‘great fracture’

Calling for compromise, he said, “Leaders have a special responsibility to achieve compromise in building a common future of peace and prosperity for our common good”.

Arul Louis Sep 19, 2023
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo: UN)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Monday for reforming the Security Council as one of the urgent measures required to prevent the “great fracture” threatening the polarised world.

“Our world is becoming unhinged”, he warned as he urged far-reaching reform of the global institutions, from the political to the economic, highlighting what he said were inequalities spanning all areas.

At the same time, he acknowledged the difficulties in bringing about the changes: "I have no illusions. Reforms are a question of power. I know there are many competing interests and agendas”.

The world has moved from the Cold War divide to “unipolarity”, and “now we are moving towards a multipolar world”, he said addressing world leaders gathered for the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting.

“A multipolar world needs strong and effective multilateral institutions. Yet global governance is stuck in time”, he said.

The Security Council and the major multilateral international financial “reflect the political and economic realities of 1945, when many countries in this Assembly Hall were still under colonial domination”, he said.

To make them reflect  21st century realities “rooted in equity, solidarity and universality”, he said, “means reforming the Security Council in line with the world of today”. 

“It means redesigning the international financial architecture so that it becomes truly universal and serves as a global safety net for developing countries in trouble”, he added.

While the world is polarised, he said: “Divides are widening within countries. Democracy is under threat. Authoritarianism is on the march. Inequalities are growing. And hate speech is on the rise”.

“In the face of all these challenges and more, ‘compromise’ has become a dirty word” he said, and the world “ needs statesmanship, not gamesmanship and gridlock”, he said.

Calling for compromise, he said, “Leaders have a special responsibility to achieve compromise in building a common future of peace and prosperity for our common good”.

“As I told the G20 [chaired by India in New Delhi this month], it is time for a global compromise. Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise. Effective leadership is compromise”, he said.

Reflecting the growing voice of the Global South, Guterres made a strong pitch for the reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to make them more democratic and responsive to the needs of developing countries.

Guterres raised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “Exhibit A” for the consequences of countries breaking their UN Charter pledges and putting the world at risk.

“The war, in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, has unleashed a nexus of horror: lives destroyed; human rights abused; families torn apart; children traumatized; hopes and dreams shattered”.

Its consequences go beyond Ukraine he said: “Nuclear threats put us all at risk. Ignoring global treaties and conventions makes us all less safe. And the poisoning of global diplomacy obstructs progress across the board”.

But, “we must not relent in working for peace – a just peace in line with the UN Charter and international law”, he said, “and even while fighting rages, we must pursue every avenue to ease the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and beyond”.

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