Press Release

Secretary-General: People Started to Lose Faith in Multilateralism

04 July 2024

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in Astana, Kazakhstan on 4 July: 

I want to thank you for your kind invitation and express my deep gratitude to the government and people of Kazakhstan for the warm welcome you have extended to me and my delegation. 

I am pleased to address the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Council – a valuable partner of the United Nations. 

We meet under difficult global conditions. 

Raging wars. 

Geopolitical divides. 

An epidemic of impunity. 

Backsliding on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Cynicism, and a crisis of trust. 

People unfortunately started to lose faith in multilateralism. 

They point to broken promises, double standards, and vast inequalities. 

These global challenges cannot be solved on a country-by-country basis.

This is the moment to reaffirm our common commitment to multilateralism, with the United Nations at its centre, bound by the principles set out in the UN Charter, international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The central goal of our multilateral system must be peace – a pre-condition for sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights. 

We need peace across the Middle East, starting with an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, ending the bloodshed; but also an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages; a surge in life-saving aid; and a clear commitment and roadmap to guarantee the two-state solution and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Every day counts while children in Gaza are dying, suffering severe injuries and trauma, seeing their parents being killed and their homes being destroyed. 

This must stop. 

We need peace in Ukraine, based on the UN Charter and international law.

We need peace from Sudan to the Sahel, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Somalia, from Myanmar to Haiti.  

We need peace in Afghanistan, and an inclusive government that respects human rights and is integrated into the international community. 

All countries should unite to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a hotbed of terrorism.

And the UN is ready to cooperate with the Shanghai Cooperation Council in relation to the fight against terrorism everywhere. 

The Shanghai Cooperation Council – the largest regional organization in the world – has the power and the responsibility to push for peace.

Today’s deep global divisions are an obstacle to progress on two existential threats. 

First, the climate emergency. 

2023 was the hottest year on record – but it could be one of the coolest years of the future. 

The gathering impacts of the crisis are already hitting your countries hard, from melting glaciers to deadly floods, storms, droughts and extreme heat. 

Unless we act now, this is just a taste of what is to come. 

Our climate is breaking down, threatening water and food security, undermining sustainable development, driving displacement, and fueling political instability.

We need far greater ambition to slash emissions and deliver climate justice, starting by the developed countries, but mobilizing also all other bigger emitters, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. 

All governments must submit new Nationally Determined Contributions, new national action plans, by next year. These plans must be fully aligned with limiting long-term global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

They must include absolute emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2035. 

And it is important that they reflect how countries will contribute to the global transitions essential to keeping 1.5 degrees within reach — ending deforestation; tripling renewable energy capacity; and cutting the global production and consumption of fossil fuels by at least thirty percent by 2030.

And in my belief, it also means all countries ending the use of coal power completely by 2040 at the latest. 

Finance is critical. 

Critical to promote climate action, but also critical to fight inequality. 

We need a strong finance commitment as an outcome of COP29 this year, and strong action to substantially increase the lending capacity of Multilateral Development Banks and change their business model, enabling more private capital to flow to climate action. 

And we need developed countries to fully respect their commitments and assume their responsibilities, and set out how they will double financing for adaptation and fully implement all their commitments – including significant contributions to the new Loss and Damage Fund to ensure it opens for business this year and that climate justice becomes a reality. 

I also recognize the importance of south-south cooperation that, of course, doesn’t undermine the responsibilities of developed countries.  

But none of this will be enough without new, innovative sources of finance. 

It is high time to put a price on carbon and to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies. 

By COP29, we need early adopters to start putting solidarity levies on sectors including shipping, aviation, and fossil fuel extraction. 

The second existential threat is posed by digital technologies.

Artificial Intelligence holds enormous potential to accelerate sustainable development for the benefit of all. 

But it is racing ahead of regulation, exacerbating power imbalances, further concentrating wealth, undermining human rights, and increasing tensions and divisions.

We urgently need the full engagement of governments, working with tech companies, academia and civil society, to agree on risk management frameworks for AI – and on monitoring and mitigating their harms. 

But the governance of AI cannot be a privilege of rich countries. It requires that all countries participate, and the UN is ready to provide a platform to make this possible. 

The Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligencethat I appointed has identified five priorities for inclusive, safe AI. 

First, creating an International Scientific Panel on AI – comparable to the IPCC’s role on climate. 

Second, a regular policy dialogue between all national, regional and industry representatives. 

Third, developing common AI ethics and standards for the whole world to safeguard human rights, and safety and interoperability.  

Fourth, principles and arrangements to govern the data used to train AI algorithms. 

And fifth, supporting developing countries to build capacity in order to be able to fully participate in the benefits of AI, and creating a global fund for that purpose.

To help deliver this agenda, the Advisory Body has identified the need for a small, dynamic, and flexible United Nations AI Office.

I count on your strong engagement and support.  

The failure of countries to unite for solutions to common challenges reflects a deeper dysfunction in our world.   

Multilateralism is falling behind. 

We must avoid at all costs the risk of further fragmentation. 

We need one global economy, one global market, one global internet and one global set of standards for Artificial Intelligence and other relevant technologies. 

The institutions and frameworks of global governance, from the Security Council to the Bretton Woods system, are out of date and out of time. 

They were created after the Second World War when the world was very different from what it is today, and when many of the countries that today exist were not yet independent from colonialism. 

The Summit of the Future in September is a pivotal opportunity for renewal. 

The Summit will consider essential reforms to the global financial architecture to make it representative of today’s world and responsive to today’s challenges to the benefit of developing countries. 

Reforms to the Security Council, and a proposed New Agenda for Peace, would help to prevent and resolve conflict, rebalance geopolitical relations, and give developing countries a proportionate voice on the global stage. 

A Global Digital Compact, including proposals on AI governance, can turbocharge the Sustainable Development Goals and help to close the digital connectivity gap that today affects dramatically so many developing countries. 

This is an important moment for the world to move forward together, based on the UN Charter and international law.

I look forward to welcoming you to New York in the Summit in September. 

Thank you. 

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