Rising instability and unpredictable geopolitical tensions have led to a “wind of madness” across the world, Secretary-General António Guterres said during a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
Following recent flare-ups in some hotspots the UN chief observed that de-escalation efforts indicated progress, the situation has changed.
“I have spoken about winds of hope. But today a wind of madness is sweeping the globe. From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond — escalation is back. Arms are flowing. Offensives are increasing”, he said.
“All situations are different but there is a feeling of growing instability and hair-trigger tension making everything more unpredictable and uncontrollable, with a heightened risk of miscalculation. Security Council resolutions are disrespected before the ink is dry.”
Laying out this and other “vicious circles” the Secretary-General stressed the need for multilateral institutions like the UN to be more attuned to the global challenges of the 21st century.
“In the year ahead I will press to break the vicious circles of suffering and conflict and push for diplomacy and peace,” he said.
Guterres continued his push for climate action as rising ocean temperatures and subsequent ice melt worsen the crisis.
With carbon dioxide concentrations set to reach new highs, he called on “the big emitters” to lead the way in adaptation, mitigation and financing.
“We need a price on carbon and an end to subsidies for fossil fuels. We are still seeing too many plans for coal plants – the addiction to coal remains dangerously strong,” he said.
The cycle of poverty and inequality must be broken. Guterres reminded journalists the UN this year kicked off a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).
The 17 goals include ending hunger and poverty, providing quality education for all children and achieving gender equality.
“We know progress on one goal can generate progress on all – the virtuous circle we know is possible can point the way to growth and prosperity for all.”