Guterres pays ‘tribute’ to India’s leadership of G20; commends Gandhian methods to Palestinians

Asked by a Palestinian journalist why Palestinians “when they resist occupiers” are labeled terrorists, including by UN officials, Guterres said, “I came from India and I went to pay tribute to Gandhi. Let's not forget the example of Gandhi”.

Arul Louis Sep 14, 2023
The 18th G20 Summit was organiused in New Delhi under the presidency of India. | Photo: X/@narendramodi

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid “tribute” to India’s presidency of the G20 for building consensus at the summit and raising the voice of the Global South.

He said on Wednesday,  “I should pay tribute to the Indian presidency. The Indian presidency did its best in order to have the South's voice represented and did its best to put development agenda in the centre of the discussions of the G20”.

“Then, of course, the conclusions are what they are. It depends on what countries are ready to accept. But I think that effort needs to be underlined”, he said.

The G20 consensus document did not adopt two key proposals Guterres has been championing – action to keep global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius and cut out fossil fuel, and an annual fund of at least $500 billion for reaching the UN’s multi-faceted Sustainable Development Goals – but he appeared to accept that it was the cost of consensus.

As for building consensus in a deeply divided forum, he said, “The simple fact of having a consensus means that there was a compromise and compromise is something that is essential in present dates”.

In his opening remarks at the news conference ahead of the high-level General Assembly session, Guterres said, “Effective leadership is compromise”.

He spoke of the emerging multipolar world and said that while “multipolarity can be a factor of equilibrium”, he said that “it can also lead to escalating tensions, fragmentation and worse”.

Therefore, he said, “It is time for compromise for a better tomorrow. Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise”. 

“Today’s multilateral institutions that were created after the Second World War reflect the power and economic dynamics of that time, and so, they need reform”, he said. 

“To bring our multipolar world together, we need strong, reformed multilateral institutions, anchored in the United Nations Charter and international law”, he said. 

“I know reform is fundamentally about power – and there are obviously many competing interests and agendas in our increasingly multipolar world”, he said.

“But at a time when our challenges are more connected than ever, the outcome of a zero-sum game is that everyone gets zero”, he said. 

Guterres held up to Palestinians the example of Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of non-violent action for Independence.

Asked by a Palestinian journalist why Palestinians “when they resist occupiers” are labeled terrorists, including by UN officials, Guterres said, “I came from India and I went to pay tribute to Gandhi. Let's not forget the example of Gandhi”.

He added, “ I do not think that it is with violence that the Palestinians will be able to better defend their interests. That is my humble opinion”. 

A Pakistani journalist referred to the G20 Delhi Declaration deploring religious hatred and intolerance and asked Guterres if he had raised attacks on religious minorities with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said there was no bilateral meeting with Modi during the G20 summit.

"But", he added, “our position has been very clear. Religious intolerance is a violation of human rights that is totally unacceptable.”


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