Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Munich Security Conference segment on “Priorities for Global Action”, held today:
Thank you very much. It is a great pleasure to be back in Munich, even if virtually. Our global tests and challenges are getting bigger and more complex. Yet, our responses remain fragmented and insufficient. COVID-19 has X-rayed the world, exposing deep fissures and fragilities. Those vulnerabilities go well beyond pandemics and public health.
Climate catastrophe is looming. Inequality and discrimination are ripping the social fabric. Corruption is destroying trust. The struggle for women’s rights faces a pushback. The Sustainable Development Goals are off track. Wild West behaviour in cyberspace has created new vectors of instability.
And even the nuclear disarmament regime is eroding — despite the welcome decision of the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the New START [Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms] treaty. Now, 2021 must be the year to get back on track. Pandemic recovery is our chance.
Four imperatives, in my opinion, stand out. First, a global vaccination plan. Vaccines must be available and affordable for everyone, everywhere. Vaccine equity is crucial for saving lives and for saving economies. Countries need to share excess doses and provide the billions needed for the COVAX initiative to be in full swing.
We also need at least a doubling of global manufacturing capacity, through sharing of licenses and technology transfer. I believe the Group of 20 (G20) is well placed to establish an emergency task force to prepare such a global vaccination plan, bringing together the countries, the companies and the international organizations and the financial institutions with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities. I am ready to galvanize the full United Nations System in support of this effort, starting by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Our second priority must be to reach net‑zero greenhouse‑gas emissions by mid-century. There is reason for hope. Now countries representing more than 65 per cent of emissions and more than 70 per cent of the world economy have committed to net‑zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. Let’s expand this coalition to 90 per cent by the November Climate Conference in Glasgow.
All countries, cities, corporations and financial institutions should set benchmarks to implement the net-zero transition in the next 30 years. This should start now with concrete steps: to put a price on carbon; to end subsidies and financing for coal and other fossil fuels; and to reinvest those funds in renewable energy and in just transition.
Third, we need to ease geopolitical tensions and enhance diplomacy for peace. We cannot solve the biggest problems when the biggest Powers are at odds. Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe into two opposing areas in a Great Fracture — each with its own dominant currency and trade and financial rules, its own Internet and its artificial intelligence capacity and strategy. A technological and economic divide risks turning into a geostrategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs.
I also want to repeat my call for a global ceasefire. We have seen some encouraging signs in a few stubborn peace processes. But, elsewhere, fighting continues. Everyone is losing. We also need a ceasefire beyond traditional battlefields: In homes, workplaces, schools and public transportation, where women and girls face an epidemic of violence. And in cyberspace, where attacks of all kinds are happening every day. Digital technologies must be a force for good — and that requires also a total ban on lethal autonomous weapons, the most dangerous dimension that artificial intelligence can bring to the future of war.
Fourth, it is time to re-define global governance for the twenty-first century. The collective security arrangements agreed more than 75 years ago have prevented a third world war. Our common principles must endure for the twenty‑first century. That means ensuring new ways to deliver global public goods, to build a fair globalization and solve common challenges. We do not need new bureaucracies.
But, we need to strengthen multilateralism so that the world has a networked multilateralism that links global and regional organizations, economic and political entities; and an inclusive multilateralism that engages businesses, cities, universities and movements for gender equality, climate action and racial justice. And a multilateralism that respects the rights of future generations.
Many believe that growing multipolarity in the world will guarantee by itself peace. But, let us heed history. More than a century ago, Europe was multipolar — but there were no multilateral governance mechanisms. The result was the First World War.
Now is the time for solidarity and international cooperation to tackle our even bigger and more complex challenges. I am convinced that if we are determined, we can achieve our shared goals. Thank you.