GENEVA - U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres warns the world is likely to face many complex and new dangers in 2018. In a year-end message, Guterres appeals for greater unity to overcome these threats and create a more peaceful world.
When Guterres assumed office one year ago, the world was in the midst of a hopeful moment. Negotiations to end more than four decades of division on the island of Cyprus appeared to be moving toward a successful resolution.
Guterres jumped into the fray and worked tirelessly to produce that outcome. Unfortunately, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots were unable to bury their differences and live as one nation together.
The UN chief acknowledges his hopes for a peaceful 2017 have not materialized. Unfortunately, he says the world in many ways has gone in reverse. Reflecting this darkened mood on the eve of the New Year, Guterres says he is issuing what he calls a red alert for our world.
“Conflicts have deepened and new dangers have emerged. Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War and climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing and we see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise and as we begin 2018, I call for unity,” he said.
During this past year, Guterres has had many catastrophic events landing on his desk begging for resolution. These include:
- Yemen — the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with some eight million people on the brink of famine, and one million infected with cholera.
- Persecution and violence in Myanmar that forced more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees to flee for their lives to neighboring Bangladesh.
- Syria, approaching its seventh year of civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than 11 million.
- Conflicts in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and many others that continue to take a heavy toll in lives and property.
As the world’s leading diplomat, Guterres must retain his sense of optimism that things can get better. He says the world can be made safer and more secure; conflicts and hatred can be overcome. But, only, he adds if world leaders unite to bridge divides and bring people together around common goals.