Pakistan hails UN chief’s new report featuring enhanced multilateralism

NEW YORK: Pakistan has welcomed a new report released by the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres setting out his vision for the future of global cooperation, saying the UN system must be reformed.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the world body Munir Akram at a meeting of General Assembly in New York said on Saturday, “we are facing a surfeit of conflicts and disputes that require attention at the level of leadership and of those concerned at the highest levels.”

The report — the Common Agenda —  sets out a bold plan for how the global community must tackle the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity, pandemics, inequality, and other existential crisis facing the world. It reflects upon the solutions needed to lift the world away from divisiveness and fragmentation and build upon lessons learnt from recent crises, including COVID-19.

“I would like to welcome the report that Secretary-General has submitted to us, the common agenda, and his eloquent presentation of the report this morning,” the Pakistani envoy said. “We must look to the future as the report, and the Secretary-General has advocated but we also need to hold on to the past, to the principles of the charter, to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) as the blueprint for development and for many of the commitments that have been made, and which we hope will be fulfilled, and not be lost in new processes.”

The report, he added,  presents a rich field of ideas and proposals for new summits, and new processes. “We need to see what action we can derive from the processes,”  Ambassador Akram said, adding, “What are the actual steps that are needed in concrete terms in order to deal with the crisis of today and the challenges of tomorrow.”

Referring to the UN’s main responsibility for peace and security, the Pakistani envoy said, “Today, we are facing a surfeit of conflicts and disputes, old lingering conflicts, new and emerging threats to international peace and security and we believe that these are the kinds of threats that require attention at the level of leadership and the attention of those concerned at the highest levels.”

Without such engagement, he said,  it would be difficult to resolve some of these enduring conflicts and disputes.

At the same time, he added, a global arms race was taking place that has had no parallel in history, even during the Cold War, the nature of the arms race that was being undertaken at the present time, required political attention and political action, at the level of the international community and the United Nations.

“We must reform, the UN system, the governance system, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and not throw away the Trusteeship Council because the trusteeship Council epitomizes the era of decolonization and decolonization, is not yet complete,” Ambassador Akram said.

“But we’ve also in this process, I hope we’ll be able to analyze why we have failed in reforming the United Nations bodies. And what is it that they are meant to do, and meant to achieve and how this can be achieved in better ways.”

“I think these are some of the self-reflections, we will have to engage in, as we discuss the Secretary General’s very rich and thoughtful and innovative report, as we go forward.”

Earlier, introducing the report, Guterres prefaced his remarks with a scathing overview of the parlous state of a world he described as being under enormous stress, and warning that the world risks a future of “serious instability and climate chaos”.

“From the climate crisis to our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity, our global response is too little, too late”, declared the secretary-general. “Unchecked inequality is undermining social cohesion, creating fragilities that affect us all. Technology is moving ahead without guard rails to protect us from its unforeseen consequences.”

The UN chief went on to describe the extensive consultations that fed into its development, a listening exercise that led the UN to the conclusion that enhanced multilateralism is seen as the way to deal with the world’s crises. Two contrasting futures are laid out in the report: one of breakdown and perpetual crisis, and another in which there is a breakthrough, to a greener, safer future.

The doomsday scenario describes a world in which COVID-19 is endlessly mutating, because rich countries hoard vaccines, and health systems are overwhelmed. In that future, the planet becomes uninhabitable due to rising temperatures and extreme weather events, and a million species are on the brink of extinction.

This is coupled with continuous erosion of human rights, a massive loss of jobs and income, and growing protests and unrest, which are met by violent repression. Or, we could go the other way, sharing vaccines equitably, and sparking a sustainable recovery in which the global economy is retooled to be more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive.

By decarbonizing the economy, global temperature rises would be limited, countries heavily affected by climate change would be supported, and ecosystems would be preserved for future generations, the report said.

This approach would herald a new era for multilateralism, in which countries work together to solve global problems; the international system works fast to protect everyone in emergencies, and the UN is universally recognized as a trusted platform for collaboration. TF Report

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