A day after an official said the United Nations Secretary General has been a “strong advocate” for India getting a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, Antonio Guterres has said in New Delhi that the institution needs deep structural reform.
Stating that the world is in a difficult moment of transition, Mr Guterres, who is in the country for the G20 Summit, called upon leaders of the prestigious economic grouping to show leadership in two key areas – climate and saving Sustainable Development Goals.
In a press briefing ahead of the summit, the UN chief said, “Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to India for the warm welcome, and my hope that India’s presidency of the G20 will help lead to the kind of transformative change our world so desperately needs.”
Mr Guterres said India has been doing everything possible to fully represent the interests of the Global South in the preparation of the summit. “I think it is fair to say that India has indeed corresponded to its promise not only to speak on behalf of the Global South but to put the development agenda in the centre of the G20 work,” he said.
‘Phrase Inspired By Maha Upanishad‘
“I welcome the focus on ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. This phrase inspired by the Maha Upanishad finds profound resonance in today’s world: not just as a timeless ideal – but as an indictment of our times,” he added.
Mr Guterres observed that if the world is indeed one global family, it is now resembling a rather dysfunctional one. “Divisions are growing, tensions are flaring up, and trust is eroding, which together raise the spectre of fragmentation, and ultimately, confrontation. This fracturing would be deeply concerning in the best of times, but in our times, it spells catastrophe,” he rued.
Security Council Reform
Pointing out that the world is “in a difficult moment of transition”, Mr Guterres said the future is multipolar, but multilateral institutions reflect a bygone age. “The global financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional, and unfair. It requires deep, structural reform. And the same can be said of the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
Responding to a question on whether he thinks India is a strong contender to become part of the UN Security Council, Mr Guterres said, “It is not for me to decide who will be in the Security Council, it is for member states. It is obvious that India is today the country with the largest population and it is obvious that India is a very important partner in the world multilateral system. It is for me to say that I believe we need the reform of the Security Council to reflect the realities of today’s world.”
The UN chief asserted that the world needs effective international institutions which are rooted in 21st-century realities and based on the UN Charter and international law.
“That is why I have been advocating for bold steps to make those global institutions truly universal and representative of today’s realities, and more responsive to the needs of developing economies,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit in Jakarta on Thursday, Mr Guterres’ spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, had said that the UN chief has been a “strong advocate” for India getting a permanent seat at the council.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had also pushed for UNSC reforms. “At some stage, the members themselves have to wake up to the realisation that the longer they put off reforms, the less representative the security council is, frankly the less the credibility of the UN would be. People will then go and do things outside the UN,” he had said.
The UN Secretary-General said the world has no time to lose and that “challenges stretch as far as the eye can see”.
Listing out some of the challenges, Mr Guterres said, “The climate crisis is worsening dramatically but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency. Wars and conflicts are multiplying – but efforts to advance peace are faltering. New technologies are raising red flags – but actions to contain the risks remain too slow, and too piecemeal.”
He pointed out that poverty, hunger, and inequality are growing, but global solidarity is missing in action.
“I have come to the G20 with a simple but urgent appeal: we cannot go on like this. We must come together and act together for the common good,” Mr Guterres said.
He urged G20 leaders to show leadership in two priority areas, with the first being climate.
“The climate crisis is spiralling out of control. But G20 countries are in control. Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80% of global emissions. Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown,” he said.
Mr Guterres said the world has to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which was decided in the Paris Agreement in 2015, alive. He also called for rebuilding trust based on climate justice, and advancing a just and equitable transition to a green economy.
“I have put forward a Climate Solidarity Pact – in which big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions, and wealthier countries support emerging economies to achieve this… Leadership also means finally delivering on commitments to developing countries – including by meeting the $100-billion goal, doubling adaptation finance, replenishing the Green Climate Fund, and operationalising the loss and damage fund,” he said.
The UN chief said the G20 must also show leadership in saving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and suggested a few measures that, he claimed, would yield immediate benefits.
The measures included an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion per year, and a meaningful capitalisation and change in the business model of multilateral development banks to be able “to massively leverage private finance”.
Mr Guterres said these actions would catalyse SDG progress and help developing economies invest in key transitions across energy, food systems, digital, education, health, decent jobs and social protection.
“All of this is within reach – but it will take all hands. No nation, no region, no group – not even the G20 – can do it alone. We must act together as one family to save our one earth and safeguard our one future,” he said.
Asked whether India has the credibility to be a mediator in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the UN chief said, “I think that when you have a conflict, all efforts of mediation are extremely important… I am not very hopeful that we will have a peace solution in the immediate future. I believe the two parties have still decided to move on with the conflict.”