UN Headquarters

21 January 2022

Secretary-General's opening remarks to press on his priorities for 2022

António Guterres

Good afternoon. 
Today I briefed the General Assembly on what I see as I scan today’s global landscape.
I did not pull any punches.  It’s not a pretty picture. 
I see a 5-alarm global fire.
You heard the speech.  I won’t repeat it. 
The essence of my message is simply this:  we don’t have the luxury to just catalogue our challenges. 
We must do something about them – and we can do something about them. 
So my message was stark – because that is the state of our world. 
But it was also hopeful. 
The problems we face were created by humanity.  That means humanity can solve them.

But solving them requires solidarity.
Solidarity is a part of human nature.  But egoism is also part of human nature. 
When egoism wins, everyone loses.
I put the spotlight on the most vulnerable because those with the least are the most forgotten.
But these tests have a direct impact on the lives of everyone. 
And they are not isolated challenges.  Each of the alarms is feeding off the others. 
They are accelerants to an inferno.
Inequity and injustice in tackling the pandemic. 
A global economic system rigged against the poor. 
Insufficient action on the existential climate threat. 

A wild west digital frontier that profits from division. 
Those social and economic fires are creating unrest and conflict we see around the world.
Not just in places plagued with daily bombs and bullets. 
But everywhere.
And all of them are fueling mistrust in our world. 
When people start losing trust in institutions, they also lose faith in the values that underlie them. 
In every corner of the world, we see this erosion of core values.
Equality.  Justice.  Cooperation.  Dialogue.  Mutual respect.
Let me be blunt:  I fear the emergence of what I would call the twilight of shared values.
Injustice, inequality, mistrust, racism and discrimination are casting dark shadows across every society.
Wherever you are, just look out the window.
We must restore human dignity and human decency.
We must prevent the death of truth and we must make lying wrong again.
For an organization built in the aftermath of World War, in the wake of unprecedented genocide, we have an obligation to speak up and act to put out the fire. 
That was my call today.
Thank you very much and I am naturally at your disposal for some questions.