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António Guterres

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The United Nations will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda.

Tennyson in ‘Locksley Hall’ presented his vision of the world where “war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle flags were furled.” Mudaliar, the Dewan of Mysore speaking on behalf of undivided India had once said, the great reality, which all religions teach is the dignity of the common man.

However, all those words rang hollow, when the Indian and Pakistani delegations faced each other in the U.N. Reality was rare, as even the photograph brandished by Pakistan’s Maleeha Lodhi as being from Jammu and Kashmir was actually from Gaza. In any case, the India-Pakistan war of words was outdone by the U.S. and North Korea.

However UN’s 72nd General Assembly was made one of its most disappointing sessions because of its ineffectiveness on each of the issues pointed out by Secretary General António Guterres in his speech on September 19.

According to him seven biggest threats that face the world today are:

  • Nuclear peril.
  • Terrorism.
  • Unresolved conflicts and violations of international humanitarian law.
  • Growing inequality.
  • Climate change.
  • Cyber warfare and misuse of artificial intelligence.
  • Refugees.

UN’s actions in the case of North Korea just amounted to some more sanctions against it. The truth about sanctions is that they do not work on rogue states but they only isolate their populations from the world, which works in favour of regime’s stranglehold on its people.

On the basis of satellite pictures and the accounts of eyewitnesses, the UN Human Rights chief called military action in post-democracy Myanmar,  a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”, as close to half a million Rohingya fled from Rakhine villages that were then burnt down and landmines were laid along the border with Bangladesh to prevent their return.

Given that Hafiz Saeed and his associates now plan to stand for public office in Pakistan and while Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi received bail despite financial sanctions, more action is expected from U.N.

Mr. Guterres pointed out on the issue of inequalities that, “eight men represent as much of the world’s wealth as half of all humanity”

UN’s first Secretary General, Trygve Lie, ran an equally divided forum and faced the same challenges before finally resigning from his post in 1952. His last words were, “The United Nations will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda. Neither will it work if it is used only as a convenience when national interests are directly involved, and regarded with indifference, or bypassed or opposed, when the general world interest is paramount.”