Guterres urged world leaders to renew their commitment to a rules-based order, with the United Nations at its centre to confront “massive, existential threats to people and planet”.
“There is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good,” he said.
Drawing a list of global problems, Guterres acknowledged that peace efforts were failing and that respect for international humanitarian norms was unravelling. “There is outrage at our inability to end the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere,” he said. “The Rohingya people remain exiled, traumatised and in misery, still yearning for safety and justice.”
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become “more and more distant” while the nuclear threat “has not eased”.
Guterres zeroed in on climate change as an urgent priority, warning that if no concrete action is taken in the next two years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world risks facing runaway climate change. “Climate change is moving faster than we are – and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world,” he said.
About 130 world leaders are attending this year’s annual session.