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UN Secretary General Guterres Suggests Multilaterism To Deal With Global Challenges

Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres', climate
UN Secretary-General António Guterres' press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system to deal with today’s global challenges.

“Toward that end, we need a stronger commitment to a rules-based order, with the UN at its center, with the different institutions and treaties that bring the (UN) Charter to life,” Guterres told an open debate of the Security Council on strengthening multilateralism and the role of the UN.

“But it is not enough to have laws and international conventions, vital as they are. We need new forms of cooperation with other international and regional organisations — a networked multilateralism. And we need closer links with civil society and other stakeholders — an inclusive multilateralism,” Xinhua reported on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Wikimedia

The world is facing many challenges. But at the same time, trust is on the decline, within and among nations. People are losing faith in political establishments, national and global. Key assumptions have been upended, key endeavours undermined, and key institutions undercut, he said.

“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade. It is a period when people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers in search of safety or opportunity. We are still wrestling with the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and only beginning to reckon with the potential dangers of new technologies.”

There is anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world, he said. “It often seems that the more global the threat, the less able we are to cooperate. This is very dangerous in the face of today’s challenges, for which global approaches are essential.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
FILE – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres give a statement after delivering a speech in Geneva, May 24, 2018

Multilateralism is nothing more than countries coming together, respecting one another, and establishing the forms of cooperation that guarantee peace and prosperity for all in a healthy planet, he explained.

“As 21st century challenges threaten to outpace 20th century institutions and mindsets, let us reaffirm the ideals of collective action while pursuing a new generation of approaches and architecture capable of responding,” he said.

Guterres stressed the necessity to stick to the UN Charter.

Also Read: Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Healing: UN

“Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort. But most of all it is our resilient and still visionary UN Charter that points the way — with its articulation of universal values, its grounding in peace, development, human rights and the rule of law, and its vision of countries living as good neighbors and sharing a common fate and future,” he said.

“Strengthening multilateralism means strengthening our commitment to the charter. Such a commitment is needed now more than ever — from all around this table, and around our world,” he added. (IANS)

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Beijing Could Improve Human Rights As Part Of The Universal Periodic Review

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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Indian Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Chinese government, in Mumbai, India, Sept. 14, 2018. Protesters demanded that China stop detaining ethnic Uighurs in detention and political indoctrination centers in Xinjiang region. VOA

A top Chinese diplomat claimed Friday that detention centers for Muslims in China’s western province of Xinjiang are “campuses, not camps” and said they are eventually going to be closed as a “training program” for ethnic Uighurs is downsized.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. He also claimed that officials from around the world, including from the U.N., had visited the region and that the detention centers in Xinjiang are “actually boarding schools or campuses, not camps” as reported by critics.

The U.S. State Department said this week that China has “significantly intensified” a campaign of mass detentions of minority Uighurs over the last year, with between 800,000 and 2 million people from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region interned in camps. The centers have drawn condemnation from across the world.

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At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. Pixabay

Le told reporters he had recently visited some Uighur centers in Xinjiang — and played ping pong and ate halal food there. He didn’t specify when the detention centers would be closed, other than telling reporters later that would happen “at the appropriate time.”

He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty.

Human Rights Council

The envoy’s comments came as China was responding to more than 200 recommendations by other countries on ways that Beijing could improve human rights as part of a Human Rights Council process known as the Universal Periodic Review.

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He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty. VOA

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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The United States, historically one of the few countries to confront China over its human rights records, pulled out of the 47-country Geneva-based U.N. body last year, alleging it has an anti-Israeli bias and other shortcomings.

Norway’s ambassador in Geneva voiced the most criticism among diplomats at the council on Friday. Hans Brattskar said Norway regretted that China did not accept any recommendations related to the Uighur detention situation in Xinjiang. (VOA)