By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 19 (IANS) India ranked third among the countries that have faced the most natural disasters in the last half century, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday pleading for unwavering international action on climate change.
In his first speech to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, he said, “It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act.”
“I urge governments to implement the historic Paris Agreement with ever greater ambition,” he said.
United States President Donald Trump has declared that his country is pulling out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change.
Pointedly, Guterres said, “The United States, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia, have experienced the most disasters since 1995 – more than 1,600, or once every five days.”
Climate change was among the seven global threats that he listed needing immediate global action.
International terrorism is taking a great toll on the world, he said and called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalisation.
“Stronger international cooperation remains crucial,” he said. “Together, we need to make full use of UN instruments, and expand our efforts to support survivors.
But he added, “Experience has also shown that harsh crackdowns and heavy-handed approaches are counterproductive.”
Foremost among the seven perils he listed is the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea.
“Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War,” Guterres warned. “The fear is not abstract. Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
He appealed to the Security council to act unitedly to meet the threat and to all countries to comply with its resolution imposing sanctions.
“Only that unity can lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and — as the resolution recognises — create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement to resolve the crisis,” he said while condemning Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
“The dark side of innovation” is another global peril, he said, adding “it has moved from the frontier to the front door.”
“Cyber war is becoming less and less a hidden reality — and more and more able to disrupt relations among States and destroy some of the structures and systems of modern life,” he said.
Genetic engineering has also raised ethical questions that have not been resolved, he said.
The humanitarian crisis from unresolved conflicts and violations of international law that is manifested in the flow of refugees is another peril the world faces, he said.
He mentioned the Rohingya crisis, and said, “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access. They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya.”
The other threats are the growing inequality among nations and within nations, and human migration.
Emphasising the need for global unity to meet the great perils facing humanity, Guterres said, “We come from different corners of the world. Our cultures, religions, traditions vary widely — and wonderfully. At times, there are competing interests among us. At others, there is even open conflict.”
“That is exactly why we need the United Nations, he said. “That is why multilateralism is more important than ever.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])
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