UN’s Priorities for 2024 | Secretary-General’s Press Conference
09 February 2024
Secretary-General: Yesterday, I addressed the General Assembly focusing on priorities for this year and beyond. It is a long and detailed agenda -- but the varied challenges are connected by a common thread. Peace.
The need for peace in all its dimensions because peace is the tie that binds. But, too often, we face instead a Gordian knot. On issues of peace and security -- we face rising conflict and geopolitical divisions. On issues of peace within communities -- we see rising polarization. On issues of peace with justice -- we have rising inequalities. On issues of peace with nature, we have rising global emissions and global temperatures.
We are at a moment of truth -- but we have a breakdown of trust. Trust in institutions. Trust in leaders. And also trust in governments and multilateral institutions.
The way to restore trust is by making a real and positive difference in people’s lives. By solving people’s problems.
Yesterday, I presented a clear-eyed, sober assessment of the world. This is no time for pulling punches.
We have a number of existential challenges: The age-old nuclear threat. The climate emergency and the dangers posed by unchecked artificial intelligence. But we are not sufficiently united and organized to respond effectively to any of them. On top of that, we face a multiplication of conflicts and geopolitical divides.
Much can be done across the board. To end conflict, to effectively address threats posed by Artificial Intelligence, to take climate action, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. But it will require a serious conversation between developed and developing countries; between rich and emerging economies; between north and south, east and west.
It will require reforming institutions that were built by a bygone world, for a bygone age.
Starting with reform of the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions. We are no longer in a world of two super-Powers or in a unipolar world. Multipolarity creates opportunities for justice and balance in global relations. But when multipolarity is not accompanied by effective, renewed and inclusive mechanisms of multilateral governance -- the risks multiply.
So, this is a year for focusing on the future -- and we have our Summit of the Future in September, and this is a year for focusing on people’s challenges also today. We have institutions that need to be aligned with our times. And we have principles to guide us, that we must preserve in all situations. Respect for the United Nations Charter. Respect for international law and international humanitarian law. Peace with justice that addresses inequalities.
Following those principles will lead us to the pathways to solutions that I laid out yesterday. The New Agenda for Peace. The SDG Stimulus. The Global Digital Compact. The work of the Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence. The Climate Solidarity Pact. And much more.
And on the peace and security front, I believe it is especially critical to find solutions to two burning conflicts that are having profound global consequences: Ukraine and Gaza.
This month marks the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is essential that we work for a just and sustainable peace, but a peace in line with the UN Charter and international law.
And in Gaza, the situation just keeps getting worse. In addition to the death and destruction from military operations -- starvation and disease are bearing down on Palestinians in Gaza. Despite some limited steps, our humanitarian operations continue to face denials of access, delays, impediments, and multiple dangers -- including live fire. One of our convoys was damaged by Israeli naval artillery earlier this week. Just 10 out of 61 planned aid convoys to the north reached their destination in January.
Let’s be clear: Denial of humanitarian access means denial of humanitarian relief for civilians. Food and water are needed for a desperate population. Medicine and fuel are needed for the desperation in hospitals. And other life-saving supplies for a population in a terrible situation. I am particularly worried by reports that the Israeli military intends to focus next on Rafah.
Half of Gaza’s population is now crammed into Rafah. They have nowhere to go. They have no homes -- and they have no hope. They are living in over-crowded make-shift shelters, in unsanitary conditions without running water, electricity and adequate food supplies. All of this underscores the need for full respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and ensuring their essential needs are met.
We are clear in condemning the horrific attacks of Hamas. We are also clear in condemning the violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza. We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. We need also the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. And we need real, visible, concrete steps towards a two-State solution -- based on UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements. Repeated bloody hostilities, and decades of tensions and occupation, have failed to provide a State for the Palestinians, or security for Israelis.
In the Middle East and around the world, we need peace in every sense. Our world cannot afford to wait. And I thank you for your attention.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Question: Thank you, Secretary-General, on behalf of UNCA (United Nations Correspondents Association) for this press conference. It’s always good to see you here. So my question is on Gaza. Yesterday, the Israeli Prime Minister rejected the Hamas proposed the ceasefire terms and said that the total victory in Gaza is possible within months. So it looks that Israel does not have the willingness to consider or accept any negotiated deal. Is there any hope to reverse this course? Is there a plan B? And the UN is playing any role in trying to reach a deal for a ceasefire? Thank you. Valeria Robecco from ANSA Newswire. Sorry.
Secretary-General: I had a chance to be once again, at the end of last week, with the Prime Minister of Qatar that was kind enough to visit me after his visit to Washington, and he was hopeful that the negotiations will be able to go on and that those negotiations might lead to a breakthrough in relation both to different periods of cessation of hostilities and to the liberation of hostages. For me, the question of the liberation of hostages is absolutely essential from the human point of view. I had the possibility to receive several hostages, two hostages in Davos, families of hostages and people knowing them and I know what the suffering is, related to that. So when we have a negotiation, in which the release of hostages is in one hand, and in which different aspects of pauses, ceasefires or restoring calm, several different kinds of language were used -- when there is a negotiation of this nature, I think it’s in the interest of everybody and it’s in the particular interest of the Government in Israel to make sure that these negotiations are successful.
Question: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. I wanted to ask about another conflict that you mentioned yesterday. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says there are grounds to believe Sudan’s warring sides are committing crimes in Darfur, and there are reports that a genocide is taking place that is worse than the one in Darfur in 2003. What can and should the United Nations and the international community be doing to halt these atrocities?
Secretary-General: First of all, we need to fully support the ICC, and I believe the role of the ICC and in particular the creation of conditions for prosecution of those involved in these atrocities is absolutely essential. On the other hand, we are working with the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and with the African Union and the Arab League. I hope I will have the occasion to meet with all of them again in the African Union Summit next week, to see how we can converge our efforts to bring these two generals to the table, to have a ceasefire and to finally create the conditions also for effective humanitarian aid to be distributed to a people that is in a desperate condition. What is happening is horrible. It needs to stop and we need to mobilize the whole of the international community, the neighbours, the countries that have influence on both parties to do everything possible to stop these horrible atrocities. There is no military solution for Sudan. They can go on fighting on and on and that, of course, will solve, will not bring any solution, so we must stop this as soon as possible.
Question: Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting. SG, we have not heard you, in your own words, reflect on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case brought by South Africa against Israel and the subsequent provisional orders that were handed down. What do you make of the case? What do you make of the court’s provisional decisions, and the lack of compliance we are all bearing witness to in Gaza today? And in that regard, what is your message to Palestinian trapped in Gaza who have all but lost hope?
Secretary-General: First of all, we fully support the International Court of Justice. We think the International Court of Justice is the right entity to pronounce itself on these issues. We fully support the decisions of the International Court of Justice, and we clearly express that all those decisions must be implemented. And so, it is absolutely essential that all the decisions are implemented. And obviously, I have full confidence in the International Court of Justice to be able to act if those decisions are not properly implemented. You’re second?
Question: Your message to people of Gaza?
Secretary-General: My message to the people of Gaza is a message of total solidarity and total commitment -- solidarity with the horrible suffering; commitment to do everything, to mobilize the UN system, to provide the possible assistance we can provide and at the same time to go on with a very active global advocacy for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to take place.
Question: Thank you, Secretary-General, Kristin Saloomey from Al Jazeera English. Following up on Sherwin’s question, in your remarks, you mentioned that one of the UN’s convoys was hit by Israeli artillery earlier this week. I believe, only 10 out of 61 planned aid convoys to the North reached their destination in January. Denial of humanitarian access means denial of humanitarian relief. You said earlier today, Philippe Lazzarini noted that UNRWA hasn’t been able to deliver food north of Wadi Gaza since before 23 January. All of this to say or to ask, is Israel in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2712,2720 and the ICJ ruling?
Secretary-General: I’ve said clearly that we are witnessing violations of international humanitarian law and those violations must stop. By the way, not only by Israel.
Question: Thank you. My name is Ibtisam Azem from Alaraby Aljadeed newspaper. I have also a question on Gaza. And the question is regarding the role that the US is playing. Do you believe that, given the fact that the US has a very strong relationship with the Israeli Government, that they are using the leverage they should do? Or the fact that they are giving or planning to give about 17 billion dollars for weapons makes them actually a party to the conflict and not separate, not an independent, what’s your position on that? And what’s your message to the American administration? Thank you.
Secretary-General: Everybody knows that the United [States] is an ally of Israel. That has been said time and time again by all leaders in the United States and in Israel. So that is clear. It’s a country that is an ally. But it is also true, and I can testify to it myself, that there has been a lot of pressure by the United States in relation to Israel in different areas of humanitarian aid. I remember several phone calls, President [Joseph] Biden to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to solve problems that we have on the ground and couldn’t solve by ourselves. And I can also testify that there has been a clear pressure of the United States in order for full respect of international humanitarian law. But that doesn’t change the fact that, indeed, United States is an ally of Israel.
Question: Sorry. Just a quick follow-up. Do you believe that they are doing everything in their power to use that leverage? Also given the fact that they cut money to UNRWA in the times where they are financing weapons?
Secretary-General: What I sincerely do not know, what is exactly is in their power.
Question: Hi, Daniel Edelson from Ynet from Israel. I wanted to ask if you also have a message to the Israeli people, considering all the criticism that you’re facing from the public in Israel. What is your message to the Israeli people, considering… your message to the Israeli people, considering how much criticism you’re facing in the country?
Secretary-General: Well, I am a politician that has a long history of relations with Israel. I was elected Vice President of the Socialist International the same day, in the same Congress, that Yitzhak Rabin was elected and I remember that one of my first visits is when I was elected leader of the Socialist Party in Portugal was to visit [Yitzhak] Rabin and [Shimon] Peres -- at that time, were Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel. Later, when I was Prime Minister, I had the occasion, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat had not the chance to meet in New York, the time of the government of [Ariel] Sharon. They met in my office in Lisbon for four hours with me and the former Prime Minister of Norway, Thorbjørn Jagland. So I’ve always been very closely committed to support, although that in Israel, were defending the Israel interests, but also committed to peace in relation to the Middle East.
On the other hand, as Prime Minister of Portugal, I approved and made the parliament approve the decree that revoked the edict of expulsion that the Portuguese did in the early 16th century, in the most criminal and stupid act of the history of my country -- when the Jewish community was expelled. We revoked that edict, and I went myself to the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam -- by the way, an absolutely fantastic temple -- unfortunately, almost deserted because of the Holocaust -- to deposit that law. And today, as you are probably aware, tens of thousands of descendants of that community are gaining Portuguese nationality. And there are even citizens of Israel that are moving from Israel to Portugal. On the other hand, I was always a very strong supporter of all efforts in order to create the conditions for full security of the people of Israel under the state of Israel; and at the same time, for the creation of a Palestinian state, allowing for the two countries to live side by side in peace. When Hamas attacked, with that absolutely intolerable terror attacks, I was very strong condemning it. I was also very strong in asking since the beginning and repeatedly for the immediate and the unconditional release of hostages. And when there were indications that I Hamas has infiltrated UNRWA, I acted immediately in order to guarantee that we do whatever is necessary for UNRWA to be able to avoid any kind of infiltration by Hamas. But it is also true that I believe we need a two-state solution and I disagree with the policies of the Government of Israel, with the settlements and with a number of other initiatives that have undermined the two-state solution. And I’ve also expressed my opinion that the way the military operations are being conducted in Gaza has been with an absolutely unacceptable excess of people being killed and of destruction. So my message to the people of Israel is that I will always be a strong supporter of the right of Israel to live in peace and security. I’ve always been a committed fighter against antisemitism, but I’m also totally committed to work for the Palestinians to be able to have their own state and to have their self-determination recognized and to the end of occupation.
Question: Thank you. Benno Schwinghammer with the German Press Agency. Secretary-General, the allegations against the dozen UNRWA members were undoubtedly very shocking. But to this point, they are still allegations, and it seems you didn’t even receive evidence in writing yet. Still, you fired these workers already, without a thorough investigation first. It seems that you or that the UN didn’t follow due process here. Why is that?
Secretary-General: First of all, we received allegations in relation to 12 names and those allegations were credible. Now, if the allegations are credible, you are dealing with a high risk. And when you are dealing with a high risk, and you have rules and regulations that allow you to do so, you, I believe, should do what I did -- which was to terminate immediately the contracts based on the so-called best interests of the organization, which is what the rules and regulations allow me to do. At the same time, the investigation team was immediately on the ground. And if I have made any mistake, it can be corrected in the future. But we couldn’t run the risk not to act immediately as the accusations were related to criminal activities that are really dangerous. And I must say, I’m a little bit surprised, when I now read in the press, that apparently, the military were not willing [for] the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel to convey that information to us; and even worse, I read in the press that in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they didn’t expect me to act. I mean, I can’t imagine that this was a trap. One thing that you can be absolutely sure -- any allegation that is presented to us by the Government of Israel in relation to any other infiltration of Hamas in the UN, at whatever level, we will act immediately upon it.
Question: Xu Dezhi with China Central Television. First, Happy New Year, but obviously, this is a difficult year for you, with so many Security Council resolutions not implemented, with the accusations of the US on UN institutions like UNRWA and governments asking to keep peacekeeping missions, there are more and more doubts on the effectiveness of the UN, especially on maintaining stability and security of the world. What can you say to them? What do you want to have in 2024?
Secretary-General: Well, first of all, let’s separate things. One thing is the Security Council and in relation to the Security Council, I said yesterday that the Security Council has been largely paralyzed and that it has been divided and probably now more divided than ever.
I’m not finished. Another thing, you mentioned UNRWA; I mean, of course, there were accusations in relation to the infiltration of Hamas in relation to UNRWA and to acts like what was mentioned. But let’s not forget that we have more than 30,000 workers of UNRWA providing humanitarian aid, but also schooling, health, other forms of community support in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in West Bank and in Gaza. And that in Gaza, we have from the operational point of view of the emergency, beyond the workers that were in schools and, you know, we have 3,000 people that are the backbone of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. So independently of everything that has happened and acting in relation to that, with clear determination, I think it’s important to say that the humanitarian work that the UN does in the world is unique, irreplaceable and a source of pride for all of us, and it should not be confused with the difficulty of decisions Of the Security Council.
Question: Yeah. But, so the thing is I asked about the Security Council resolutions, they are not implemented. They cannot, I mean, there are doubts whether the UN should be respected again?
Secretary-General: That is very simple, in my opinion. When the world is divided, and the geopolitical divides today are enormous -- when we see that we are no longer in a bipolar or unipolar world, as I said, we are in a kind of on the way to a multipolar world, but in a very chaotic situation. Power relations became unclear. And what we see today in the world is political actors doing whatever they want and with total impunity. And in this situation of division, in which there is no respect, in which even the superpowers, nobody respects them, as we see every day, in what’s happening around the world, obviously, we are having an extreme difficulty in having Security Couuncil resolutions being implemented. With a united Security Council, with the most important powers of the world able to work together, with more clarity in power relations, there will be more respect and there will be less capacity of people to go on doing what they do in total impunity and to the detriment of the suffering of millions of people around the world.
Question: Secretary-General, Margaret Besheer, Voice of America. Two years this month since Russia invaded Ukraine, do you worry that the fighting will continue while Moscow waits to see who wins the US election in November?
Secretary-General: Independently of the US elections, independently of everything else, I think it’s important to say that from our side, because we have no control of anything in the elections in the US or even in the battlefield -- from our side, we will go on doing everything we can for peace and a peace based in the UN Charter and peace based in international law.
Question: Thank you, sir. Secretary-General, it’s good to have a briefing. Thank you for being here. It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News. Big picture question based on a lot of what you said yesterday and questions. As you know, the UN’s credibility around the world is at an all-time low. And that’s because of what you said, there’s more conflicts in the world than there have been since 1945. You have a Summit of the Future, you’re looking for proposals, but generally speaking, do you believe that the UN can still in this day and age bring peace to the conflicts you’re looking at -- Ukraine, Gaza, and Israel, and everything else, with Sudan and everything else we’re looking at? Thank you.
Secretary-General: I’m the first to say that United Nations -- namely, the Security Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and different other multilateral organizations created after the Second World War -- are today outdated, they are dysfunctional, they are unfair, and they need to be reformed. And I will do everything I can in the context of the Summit of the Future to push as much as possible for the reform of our own institutions and for asking for the reform of other institutions. And so, it is clear that there is a dysfunctionality in relation to the reality of today’s world and the nature of the multilateral organizations like the UN. Having said so, I’ve just seen a survey in relation to credibility in the world of different entities, and the UN is still clearly above, for instance, governments.
Question: Thank you, Secretary-General. Linda Fasulo, NPR at the UN. My question involves the suspension of aid by the various donors for UNRWA and my question is this: Were you surprised at all at the quickness of these 16 donors, including the major donors, their withdrawal? And since the report is not going to be due, I gather, until late April, which is two and a half months from now, have they indicated any sort of step or any goals that have to be reached where perhaps they would restore some aid sooner than waiting for the end of April?
Secretary-General: I was surprised. But I think my duty now is to do everything possible to re-establish the situation and to re-establish the situation, of course, my appeal would be for everybody to establish it immediately, but I know all things are. I’ve been in politics a long period of my life, and I know how politics play in governments, in parliament, in public opinions everywhere, and I understand the concerns that exist. And so what we are doing is to do the right thing in order to give the guarantees that these countries would like to have, that we are doing everything possible to make sure that UNRWA is an organization that not only is effective, necessary, but it is also able to defend itself against infiltrations that can put into question its neutrality. And we are doing everything in that direction. And in my context, I’m hopeful that countries will recognize that effort and that progressively, this problem will be solved.
Question: Oh, thank you. Yuna Leibzon, Channel 12 News, Israel. You have said also in recent days that the Israel military operation is a collective punishment with Palestinians in Gaza. Because you acknowledge the brutal attack by Hamas, you’ve condemned it just now, I have to ask you as a former head of state: What is the expectation? What can be done when a terrorist organization invades and murders another state? And on that note, isn’t it time for the UN, as other countries, the US, European countries recognize Hamas as a terror organization?
Secretary-General: Well, the recognition of terrorist organizations is done by the Security Council in the United Nations. So I said very clearly that what we had was terror attacks; so I think it’s an absolutely clear, my position about those attacks. But now, let’s go to your question. And your question is, for me, very simple. Those attacks were horrible, but as different Israeli leaders have been telling repeatedly, they are not fighting the Palestinian people; they are fighting Hamas. If that is the case, I cannot understand how this is conducted in such a way that has led in Gaza to reportedly around 28,000 people killed, to 75 percent of the population displaced, and to a level of destruction of entire neighbourhoods at the level that it has happened. I think that there is something wrong in the way the military operations have been conducted.
Question: But you know how Hamas is inside the civilian population. We see it in schools. We see it in hospitals. It’s easier said than done.
Secretary-General: I have condemned the use of human shields. I even said that they are a violation of international humanitarian law, but the same international humanitarian law is clear that even when there are human shields, there is an obligation to protect civilians. So, in that regard, I think we are abiding by principles without double standards. And I think it’s very important to be credible not to have double standards.
Question: Secretary-General, Yvonne Murray, RTE News. Thank you very much for this briefing. When Russia invaded Ukraine, you said it was the saddest day of your tenure, nearly two years on. Would you say the same thing today?
Secretary-General: I think they were both extremely sad. I can’t compare the sadness of both situations.
Question: Thank you, Secretary-General. So my name is Yu from Kyodo Japanese news agency. So my question is about North Korea, DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Kores). So as you know, North Korea launched missiles so many times and then the relationship with neighbour, like Japan and Korea, is getting worse. So what do you think about the North Korea issue?
Secretary-General: I strongly condemn any violations of sanctions. I strongly condemn any attempts of North Korea to launch missiles or to develop nuclear weapons. I think it’s absolutely essential that North Korea abides by the same Security Council resolutions that unfortunately we have discussed in the previous questions, are sometimes difficult to implement. But all those things that you mentioned are, from our perspective, totally unacceptable. As it is unacceptable, for instance, the maintenance of hostages for decades without proper information. If they are alive, if they died, to their families, I’m talking about the Japanese that were rejected by North Korea.
Question: Thank you so much. My name is Ephrem Kossaify from Arab News Daily. A lot is being said about the role that the Secretary-General has to play in this conflict. Some people expect you to say certain words, to act in a certain way. A lot is being said about it and analyzed. According to you, how do you see your role in this? And the fact that all your calls, all your pleas for ceasefire, for food to enter Gaza, for medicine, for everything you’ve been saying have fallen on deaf ears, and there’s no movement on the ground? In the light of all of that, does that push you maybe to re-examine, reflect on the role of the Secretary-General in a crisis like this and in the world we’re living in today? And if so, what is your vision about that? And what are the forces that are stopping you from doing your job? Thank you.
Secretary-General: And that is my worst frustration. To see suffering at such a large scale and to know that I have not the power to stop it. But it is a reality. I have not the power to stop it. I can raise my voice and I do it. I can sometimes convince, but people need to be willing to be convinced. But indeed, the biggest frustration I have is not to have the power to handle these conflicts we have been discussing or at least to create the conditions for people to respect international law and International Humanitarian Law.
Question: Thank you but I will speak in English. You’ve also mentioned the gravity of the threat regarding Rafah, where an important part of Gaza’s population is now crammed and they have nowhere to go. Do you consider Israel’s onslaught to Rafah, where people have been pushed with promises of safety, a war crime? Thank you.
Secretary-General: It is for those classifications, I leave for those that are supposed to classify -- and namely for the International Court of Justice and the ICC. What I say is that, looking into the situation in Rafah, where you have now more than half of the population of Gaza that were pushed there -- they didn’t go because they wanted. They were pushed there. Looking at that situation, I consider that it is time to have humanitarian ceasefire before a gigantic tragedy develops in Gaza, if we have the same kind of intensity of military operations in Gaza that we have seen in Khan Younis and in other parts of Gaza territory. I mean, the same in Rafah, then.
Question: AFP news agency. A follow-up on Rafah. You said you’re particularly worried about it. But yesterday, the Israeli Prime Minister ordered the army to prepare the operation in Rafah, so they seemed determined to have the same kind of operation in Rafah that they had in Gaza City and in Khan Younis. So is there any kind of contingency plan for these more than one million people there to go somewhere else? Would you push for the opening on the border to Egypt, to save them for any kind of ground operation there?
Secretary-General: I think that we should push to avoid the tragedy, instead of pushing for things to facilitate the tragedy.
Question: Joseph Klein, Canada Free Press. Regarding the Summit of the Future, what concrete outcomes, perhaps in the way of commitments, would you like to see coming out of the summit? And specifically with respect to adapting the UN’s toolbox, and the kind of practical steps you see that would help take account of the long-term impact of the UN’s decisions, which I believe are mentioned on the website as goals of the summit?
Secretary-General: In relation to the goals of the summit, they are known. I would like -- now its Member States that are to take decisions; we have presented our proposals. I would like the Summit of the Future to approve the key aspects of the Agenda for Peace. One of them fortunately has already been approved, the relation to support of the UN to peace enforcing and counterterrorism operations done by the African Union. This was in the Agenda for Peace. But we would like to see a much more holistic form of prevention.
And we would like to see a number of important measures, namely relation to control of the new kinds of weapons and in relation to nuclear disarmament. On the other hand, we hope to see approved a Global Digital Compact before the summit, because there we have the capacity to do so. We’ll publish our proposal of a code of conduct for integrity of information. We hope to have some positive indications about the reform of the Security Council and also we hope to have clear indications about the need for the reform of the international financial architecture. Of course, the technicalities of it are not for the General Assembly to decide, but a clear indication that we need to have a revamped international financial architecture to the benefits of developing countries that are now in a desperate situation -- many of them, as you know.
We would like to see approved the emergency platform to give us much more capacity to respond quickly to epidemic situations, to gigantic disasters and things of the sorts. We are very interested in moving forward with a number of things related to the participation of youth and women in decision making in the processes of the UN, but also in the processes in general. We are hopeful to have some indications about outer space and how to regulate outer space. We hope that it will be possible, due to the work of the high-level advisory board on artificial intelligence, to have some clear indication about guardrails, about soft forms of governance, networked, flexible forms of governance. I mean, and I could go on and on. What we want is to gain conscience that our institutions are outdated and we need to have a multilateralism that is much more inclusive, much more networked and much more adapted to the realities of today, and I hope the Summit of the Future will be able to decide or at least to open the way for a number of important transformations in this regard.
Question: Indo-Asian News Service, I have a question about your remarks regarding the obsolescence of the international financial institutions, like the Bretton Woods, like what emerges from the Bretton Woods. A, what kind what would be the outline of the reforms that you would like to see? And b, what do you think of the role of organizations like the BRICS that are emerging as a possible challenger to the international economic order? Thank you.
Secretary-General: Well, as you know, the Bretton Woods Institutions and several others, like the Security Council, were created in 45. And then were created in relation to what the power relations and the global economy was at that time. That doesn’t correspond to the power relations and to the global economy as it is today. So I think it will be very important for those institutions to reform in order to represent today’s global economy to be truly universal and truly inclusive. On the other hand, the truth is that they became too small. The paid in capital of the World Bank as a percentage of global GDP today is less than one fifth of what it was in 1960. So we obviously need a meaningful capitalization of those institutions. And we obviously need that those institutions reflect more obviously the interests of the global South. So this brief, of course, would have to be hours talking about it. But this brief exposé gives you the idea of the orientations we would like to see in the reform of those institutions. Again, it’s not for the UN to reform those institutions, but I would like to see the United Nations’ Summit of the Future give some indications about the directions in which it would be good for the world that those institutions should structurally move. [The BRICS?] Oh, I think that it is important to have a multiplicity of different organizations to support developing countries. But it is essential that doesn’t correspond to a fragmentation of the global economy. I think one of the most important aspects that we need to preserve today is that one global economy, one global market, one global Internet and to avoid the fragmentation of that global economy. Within a united global economy, I think that many of these institutions can play an extremely important and complementary role.
Secretary-General: I thought I was going to get fired. It’s about how to if we can replace UNRWA in the work that is done, namely in Gaza. First of all, UNRWA does not only work in Gaza, UNRWA works in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Syria, in the West Bank, where the school system for the Palestinians is guaranteed by UNRWA, where the health system is guaranteed by UNRWA, where vital conditions are guaranteed by UNRWA. I don’t see any other organization that would be able to do all these, in all these countries, all of a sudden. But in particular, in Gaza, the backbone of the humanitarian distribution in Gaza by the United Nations are the 3,000 Gazan UNRWA staff members that are dedicated to the emergency response. Obviously, there are other staff members that were teaching or doing other functions that today are not operational, but there are 3,000 Gaza staff members that are the backbone of the humanitarian distribution inside Gaza. No other organization has a meaningful presence inside Gaza and nothing compared with this situation. So there is no other organization that would be able now to replace Gaza, occupying that space. On the other hand, and that is that is important also for donor countries, the costs with the UNRWA are much lower than the costs with the other agencies for historical reasons. The salary is paid by UNRWA are one third of the salaries paid by UNICEF or WFP or others UN organizations, so any attempt of replacement -- that is not possible; if it would be possible, it would mean a huge multiplication of the resources needed for the humanitarian action.
Question: My name is Sinan, I am with Rudaw media network, Kurdish media outlet. My question is about the Gaza war has been spreading throughout Middle East, especially if you see Iran and Iran-backed groups’ attacks in Syria, in Iraq, in Pakistan, Red Sea. And my question is, how do you plan to help prevent this spread? And also, do you have a message for Iran? Thank you.
Secretary-General: I think it’s very important that Iran plays a constructive role, doing everything Iran can to avoid the multiplication of these incidents. And I think it is also very important that we do what is being done by the UN and by others, in particular in relation to Lebanon to create the conditions for a negotiation aiming at the de-escalation and the stabilization of the border. Negotiations are possible. I think this is achievable, and I hope that we avoid the worst. Libya and Syria and Iraq are areas where we have less capacity to be active. On the other hand, we hope that there is also a clear de-escalation in relation to the Red Sea and we believe it’s absolutely essential to re-establish the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.
Thank you very much.