United Nations Secretary-General
20 January 2024
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
President Museveni, thank you for your warm welcome.
I congratulate Uganda on its chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement.
This Movement began at a divided moment in history.
In the midst of the Cold War, its architects — leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Josip Broz Tito, Gamal Abdel Nasser and others — worked to advance cooperation.
Supporting countries as they travelled the path to full decolonization.
Boosting trade and economic development in the Global South.
And championing the pillars of peace — dialogue, diplomacy and co-operation.
We see clear convergence between the principles of the UN Charter and the Bandung principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.
And you have an important role at the United Nations.
As significant contributors to UN peacekeeping forces.
As supporters of our work to uphold the United Nations Charter, international law and human rights.
As champions of solidarity in times of crisis — including during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
And in your strong call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
This Summit falls at another moment of deep division.
Geopolitical tensions are rising.
Democracy is eroding, while populism and extremism are increasing.
Our climate is breaking down.
Poverty and inequalities are rife.
And the developing world faces its weakest economic growth in decades.
And more countries than ever are struggling with debt distress or default.
Human rights, international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Charter are being flouted with impunity.
And conflicts are raging and proliferating — from Sudan to Ukraine to Gaza.
Following the abhorrent Hamas attacks on 7 October, the wholesale destruction of Gaza and the number of civilian casualties caused by the Israeli army in such a short period are totally unprecedented during my mandate.
And this includes 152 of our own UN staff members — a heartbreaking tragedy for our organization, for their families, and for those they were serving in Gaza.
While humanitarian workers are doing their best to deliver relief, they face constant bombardments, daily dangers to themselves and their families, and the enormous constraints posed by damaged roads, communication blackouts and access denials.
Meanwhile, disease and hunger are deepening.
People are dying not only from bombs and bullets, but from lack of food and clean water, hospitals without power and medicine, and gruelling journeys to ever-smaller slivers of land to escape the fighting.
This must stop.
I will not relent in my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
And we must do all we can to prevent spillover of this conflict across the region — in the West Bank, across the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon, and in Syria, Iraq and the Red Sea.
The refusal to accept the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and the denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people, are unacceptable.
This would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security; exacerbate polarization; and embolden extremists everywhere.
The right of the Palestinian people to build their own state must be recognized by all.
Within this swirl of uncertainty and instability, I see new opportunities for countries and the Non-Aligned Movement to lead.
This meeting’s theme points the way — “Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence.”
But what does that mean in practical terms?
First — global affluence depends on peace.
Peace means focusing on prevention, dialogue and mediation to heal divisions and defuse conflicts.
This requires institutions that reflect today’s world, not the world of 80 years ago.
The UN Security Council is a prime example.
The world’s preeminent platform for resolving global disputes is paralyzed by geopolitical divisions that block effective solutions.
Your Movement has long highlighted the Council’s systemic shortcomings and the need for reforms to make it truly effective and representative.
How can we accept that the African continent still lacks a single Permanent Member?
September’s Summit of the Future is a unique opportunity to consider reforms to the institutions of global governance and promote ideas to re-build trust and strengthen multilateral cooperation.
The proposed New Agenda for Peace sets out a vision for preventing conflict, sustaining peace and advancing development.
It reflects our commitment to all human rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
It includes initiatives around disarmament, tackling terrorism and transnational crime, and managing threats posed by lethal autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence.
And it calls for a new generation of peace operations — including peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations — led by regional partners, notably the African Union, with a Security Council mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, supported by guaranteed funding, including through UN assessed contributions.
The Security Council’s recent resolution on this issue is a major step forward — and one that your members, as well as I myself, have long advocated.
Second — peace requires sustainable development.
We are moving backwards in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
People are going hungry.
Communities lack access to health care, clean water, electricity and proper sanitation.
Families are struggling to make ends meet without social protection and safety nets.
And children are denied education.
Developing countries need resources to overcome these challenges.
And this requires immediate debt relief and re-channeling unused Special Drawing Rights.
It means reforming an outdated, unjust and unfair global financial system that favours its founders, mostly rich countries, and has proven unable to provide a global safety net, in particular to developing countries in distress.
It means all countries going the extra mile to allocate their budgets wisely — investing in education, health, nutrition and social protection systems.
And it means strengthening the social cohesion of societies, and upholding
fundamental human rights, recognizing the rights of minorities and standing up to all forms of discrimination.
At September’s SDG Summit, world leaders adopted a political declaration that demonstrated clear support for an SDG Stimulus of $500 billion per year.
And they also supported our longstanding call for reform of the global financial architecture including the Bretton Woods System to better respond to the needs of developing countries, making it fully representative of today’s global economy, and not the one that existed after the Second World War.
And at COP28, countries operationalized the long-awaited Loss and Damage Fund to support those countries most vulnerable to the devastation wrought by climate change.
But contributions so far have been minimal, and developed countries have not yet fulfilled many of their longstanding commitments on climate finance.
I urge the Non-Aligned Movement to hold leaders to keep these promises this year.
Conflicts, poverty, inequality, geopolitical fragmentation and climate catastrophe are the result of choices the world makes — or fails to make.
Guided by the solutions being discussed here and the spirit of trust, understanding and solidarity that has infused the NAM from the start, I know we can tackle these challenges together, and make the right choices in the time ahead.
And I thank you.
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