World leaders begin debating ‘Great Fracture’, UN secretary-general warns
As the world’s governance structures are failing to adapt to the changing environment, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns of a looming “Great Fracture” in the world.
He called for sweeping changes to multilateral institutions, including reforming the United Nations’ powerful Security Council and redesigning global financial systems, during his speech before world leaders in the United Nations Assembly Hall on Tuesday.
It is not the status quo that is the alternative to reform. In his view, fragmentation is the only alternative to reform. There is a choice between reform and rupture.
The economy and financial systems, as well as trade relations, are teetering ever closer to a Great Fracture, he warned. There is a threat to a single open Internet, with divergent strategies on artificial intelligence and technology, as well as potentially clashing security frameworks.
According to Guterres, increasing global multipolarity presents “new opportunities for justice and balance in international relations” – an acknowledgement of the rise of new world powers like India and China, and the growing bargaining power of regional blocs. The most important thing to ensure peace in a multipolar world is to create and strengthen new multilateral institutions.
“Many countries in this Assembly Hall were still under colonial rule in 1945 when the UN Security Council and Bretton Woods agreement were established,” Guterres said.
Five permanent members of the Security Council are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia, and 10 rotating members are the other six countries. There was only one permanent member from the permanent five – US President Joe Biden – who attended the UN General Assembly this year.
PERMANENT AND NON-PERMANENT MEMBERS
A total of 15 members make up the Council:
There are five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and United States, and ten non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms (with end of term year):
- Albania (2023)
- Brazil (2023)
- Ecuador (2024)
- Gabon (2023)
- Ghana (2023)
- Japan (2024)
- Malta (2024)
- Mozambique (2024)
- Switzerland (2024)
- United Arab Emirates (2023)
States that are not members of the Council
The Security Council has never been a member of more than 50 UN countries.
When the Security Council considers that a country’s interests are affected, a Member of the United Nations but not a member of the Security Council may participate, without voting. The Council may invite non-member states to participate in its discussions, without a vote, if they are parties to a dispute it is considering; the conditions for participation by a non-member state are determined by the Council.
He touched on a number of smoldering global issues, including bloody violence in the Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Haiti; oppression in Myanmar and Afghanistan; and the potential threats posed by unfettered new technologies.
The secretary-general also focused on climate change, a key issue for him, calling on wealthy nations to deliver billions of dollars in promised funding to strengthen developing nations against climate-related threats. The G20 countries are responsible for the majority of global emissions as global temperatures rise, Guterres said.
Guterres offered a notable aside to environmental activists around the world – and on the streets of New York this week: “To all those marching and working for real climate action, you are on the right side of history.” We are all on the same side.”
A number of criticisms of division in the world were echoed in the secretary-general’s address. After Covid-19 took hold in parts of the world in 2021, Guterres said the world was “getting an F in ethics.” At the beginning of 2022, he warned the international community that it was “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” – though he noted the Black Sea Grain Initiative that enabled Ukrainian grain to be delivered to countries in need.
Despite this, the grain agreement has collapsed after one year. As Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, the geopolitical conditions for joint action to prevent humanitarian and environmental disasters seem further away than ever.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, Guterres observed that superpower division is unprecedented since the Second World War.
The only thing he needs to bridge that divide is a voice, he told Amanpour.
There is no money and no power for the secretary-general of the United Nations. The voice we have is all we have. It is possible for that voice to be loud. It is my responsibility to make it loud.”
The news reference is CNN