UN chief for dialogue, in a world confronted with many challenges, describing them as ‘eternal tools of peace’

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UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for recommitment to “dialogue, diplomacy and mutual trust” in a world confronted with many challenges, describing them as “the eternal tools of peace”.

“Our collective security demands that we seize every moment to forge a common understanding of the threats and challenges before us — and, most importantly, to shape united responses to them,” he told a UN Security Council briefing on promoting common security through dialogue and cooperation.

“The path to peace is forged by dialogue and cooperation,” and shaped by “a common understanding of the threats and challenges,” he said.

Having just returned from Ukraine, Turkiye and Moldova, the UN chief recounted how he witnessed first-hand success so far of the Black Sea Initiative organized to ship grain and other vital food supplies for the rest of the world from Ukrainian ports, and noted another agreement for the unimpeded access of food and fertilizers from Russia to global markets.

“This comprehensive plan is crucial for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, who are desperately counting on these food supplies,” he said, adding that “It is a concrete example of how dialogue and cooperation can deliver hope, even in the midst of conflict”.

he UN chief called for “the same commitment to dialogue and results” at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, currently under Russian military control, reaffirming the UN’s logistics and security capacities to support a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from Kyiv to Europe’s largest nuclear power facility.

From military coups to inter-State conflicts, invasions, and “wars that stretch on” for years, today’s collective security system is being “tested like never before,” Guterres said.

He drew attention to lingering differences between the world’s great powers, including at the Council, which continue to limit a collective response; humanitarian assistance that is stretched to the breaking point; human rights under assault; and a lack of trust.

“Many of the systems established decades ago are now facing challenges that were unimaginable to our predecessors – cyberwarfare, terrorism, and lethal autonomous weapons,” observed the UN chief. “And the nuclear risk has climbed to its highest point in decades”.
The tools, which have presented another catastrophic world war “are more important than ever,” he continued; however, they need updating for “today’s rapidly deteriorating international peace and security environment”.

“We need to reforge a global consensus…to ensure collective security,” he said pointing to the mould-breaking Our Common Agenda blueprint for multilateral action.

In addition to exploring “the diplomatic toolbox” to end conflicts, it also focuses on prevention and peace building – including anticipating flashpoints and longstanding conditions that could explode into violence; harnessing human rights in addressing root causes of conflict; building trust between people sharing a common border; and collectively reducing risks from cyberwarfare and so-called lethal autonomous weapons.

“The Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) meeting this month must demonstrate that progress is possible,” underscored the top UN official, renewing his call that all States parties “demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to compromise across all negotiations”.

“Nuclear saber-rattling must stop,” he stressed, pressing States to recommit to “come to the negotiating table to ease tensions and end the nuclear arms race, once and for all”.

At this moment of “maximum danger for our world”, the Secretary-General emphasized that “humanity’s future is in our hands”, insisting that division be replaced with dialogue and diplomacy, to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.

He argued that negotiation, compromise, and accountability are required for the future, attesting that as it represents the nations of the world, the UN is “humanity’s best hope to build a better, more peaceful tomorrow”.

“As we develop our New Agenda for Peace, let’s show that we’ve learned from the lessons of the past”.

Gustavo Zlauvinen, President of the NPT’s Tenth Review Conference, encouraged the Council members, including those not party to the treaty, to recognize its benefits, resilience and adaptability.

He warned that technologies are creating new levels of risk, including that of non-proliferation, which are a growing concern across all regions.

Disarmament agreements must be “front and centre” for States signed up to the NPT, said Zlauvinen, adding that preventing any nuclear weapons use remains the top priority to reverse dangerous trends and eliminate the prospect of unintended launch.

And for some States, he maintained that reducing the nuclear risk is no substitute for full-fledged disarmament. — APP