World entering an 'age of chaos’, UN needs urgent reforms, says Guterres

Mechanisms that were used to manage superpower relations during the Cold War are missing now, “and so our world is entering an age of chaos” creating “a dangerous and unpredictable ‘free-for-all’ with total impunity”, Guterres warned.

Arul Louis Feb 08, 2024
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the General Assembly on Wednesday, February 7, 2023, outlining his priorities for 2024. (Photo Source: UN)

The world “is entering an age of chaos” with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterating his call to reform the Security Council to make it more representative in a multi-polar global order. Outlining the failures of the UN’s highest decision-making body he said on Wednesday, “Indeed our world badly needs: Reform of the Security Council”.

In the New Agenda for Peace that he proposed for dealing with the challenges, “first and foremost, the United Nations Security Council must be able to take decisions and implement them, and it must become more representative”, he said in his address to the General Assembly on his priorities for the year.

In particular, he said that “it is totally unacceptable that the African continent is still waiting for a permanent seat” – a continent where most of the Council’s edicts on peace-keeping are focused.

Guterres introduced last year the New Agenda for Peace with five major points to deal with problems of peace and development.

In his critique of the Council, Guterres said, “The primary platform for questions of global peace is deadlocked by geopolitical fissures”.

This is the “worst” it has been and “today’s dysfunction is deeper and more dangerous”, he warned.

In overhauling the Council, its “working methods must also be updated so that it can make progress – even when members are sharply divided”, he said.

In one of the efforts in this direction, France, a permanent member of the Council, and Mexico have proposed that the permanent members voluntarily not use their vetoes in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and large-scale war crimes.

Mechanisms that were used to manage superpower relations during the Cold War are missing now, “and so our world is entering an age of chaos” creating “a dangerous and unpredictable ‘free-for-all’ with total impunity”, Guterres warned.

The polarised Council riven by rival vetoes of the permanent members from the East and the West, has been deadlocked on dealing with the many crises like the Ukraine War, the Hamas-Israel conflict and the Red Sea terrorism.

On a more positive note, he said that he sees “a truly dynamic effort to build a more effective, inclusive and renewed multilateralism tuned to the 21st century and our increasingly multipolar world”. 

Guterres also called for reforming the international financial system.

In a tour of the troubled horizon, he pointed to the conflicts in the Red Sea, Gaza, Ukraine, and numerous spots in Africa, the dictatorship in Myanmar, the “lawlessness” in Haiti, the ethnic tensions in the Balkans, the climate crisis and the backsliding in moving towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

He suggested solutions to these multifarious problems and pleaded once again for international cooperation.

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