25 October 2020

‘When Conflict Runs Riot, the Virus Runs Rampant’, Secretary-General Tells World Government Summit, Calling for Global Ceasefire, Focus on Common Enemy: COVID-19

Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for the World Government Summit, in United Arab Emirates, today:

Thank you for coming together, in person and online, to commemorate the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations.

I commend your strong commitment to collective global action, which is needed more than ever today to address our shared challenges and seize common opportunities for a better future.

This Summit falls as the world wrestles with the COVID‑19 pandemic, which has devastated lives, economies and communities everywhere, and is jeopardizing our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations continues to push for a massive rescue package for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, and for a people’s vaccine that is affordable and available to all.

We are also pressing for a global ceasefire.  When conflict runs riot, the virus runs rampant.  I am calling for a stepped‑up international push for peace and reconciliation so we can focus on our common enemy:  COVID‑19.

The pandemic is also a wake-up call on climate change.  As countries rebuild and reset their economies, we must accelerate the transition to renewable energy and achieve net‑zero emissions by 2050.  I welcome the efforts of the United Arab Emirates on this essential path.

I would like to offer a special greeting to the young people who are part of this Summit.

Hamza: I am so sad that the conflict forced you to flee your home in Syria.  I have visited the Za’atari camp in Jordan, and I hope you are safe there and receiving the support you need from United Nations agencies.  You have asked what the United Nations is doing to enable young people such as you, who have a physical disability, to reach their potential.  In Za’atari camp, we are working to make schools more inclusive and accessible, including play areas, so that children with and without disabilities can learn alongside each other.  And we are promoting inclusion around the world.

Shadida: I share your concern about the impacts of climate change in your community in Zanzibar.  The United Nations is pushing for greater climate action across the world.  You can help by making your voices heard wherever you can.

Silvana: I am glad you asked about women’s leadership.  We need look no further than the response to the pandemic to see the difference women’s leadership has made.  Advancing gender equality and women’s leadership is a matter of fundamental human rights and an imperative for the world’s future well‑being.

Carlos: As you say, artificial intelligence and robots are changing our world rapidly and dramatically.  The United Nations is working to make sure these new technologies are forces for good, including through a new road map for digital cooperation.

Recovery from COVID-19 is the world’s opportunity to find a better path and to address the inequalities and fragilities laid bare by the pandemic.  This is also a moment to strengthen multilateralism and global governance, which are crucial for building a safer, healthier, more sustainable, equitable and peaceful world for all.  Thank you again for your commitment to the United Nations.  Please accept my best wishes for a fruitful summit.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.