The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has indicated that the world is still very far from being a better place for everyone to live and as such much needs to be done to mitigate the ever rising crises that are permeating the world.
Speaking in New York on Tuesday at the 71st UN General Assembly, Mr. Ban expressed deep concern amid the huge and deep mistrust that has divided citizens from their leaders, extremists pushing people into camps of “us” and “them,” assailed by rising seas, and with 130 million people needing life-saving assistance.
Taking the world stage for the last time as Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon unleashed years of constrained anger at leaders, who he termed as “Powerful Patrons,” who keep perpetuating instabilities, “feeding war machines” in several countries, violating human rights and preventing aid deliveries to starving people.
The U.N. chief told the audience that these “powerful patrons or nations,” whose representatives were present at the meeting, are perpetrating instabilities across the globe. He made specific references to the Syrian crisis that has claimed the attention of the world recently. An angry Ban said these powerful patrons “have blood on their hands.”
“Present in this hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all sides in the Syrian conflict against Syrian civilians,” he said.
“Many groups have killed innocent civilians — none more so than the government of Syria, which continues to barrel bomb neighborhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees,” he added.
He lamented the blatant violations of constitutions across the world—a situation that is prevalent in Africa. Ban, whose term ends December 31, said “in too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power.”
These instances are currently prevailing in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan, particularly accusing the latter’s feuding leaders of betraying their people.
Looking back on his nearly 10 years at the helm of the United Nations, Ban cited the rise of “people’s power” with mobile phones that now blanket the world, and reductions in poverty.
But the focus of his annual state of the world report was on the myriad problems on the global agenda — and the leaders who fail to tackle them.
He listed a host of “grave security threats” — fighting in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Sahel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where “the prospects for a two-state solution are being lowered by the day.”
The spotlight at the annual meeting will not only be on the global crises but the possibility of solutions. Yet, after 10 years in office, he said, he was more convinced than ever that “we have the power to end war, poverty and persecution.” With the Sustainable Development
Goals, states had the manifesto for a better future, and with the Paris Agreement on climate change, they were tackling “the defining challenge of our time.” He urged the Paris Agreement’s entry into force in what remains of 2016, an effort that requires a mere 26 countries representing only 15 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who also delivered his own final speech to the General Assembly, expressed frustration that the world is now in a contest between authoritarianism and liberal democracy, between fundamentalism and tolerance.
He lamented that while the world has become a safer and more prosperous place by many measures, people have lost faith in public institutions amid frightening problems like terrorism and a devastating refugee crisis.
“It’s no surprise that some argue that the future favors the strongman,” Obama said. “But I believe the road to true democracy remains the better path.”