UN chief warns of hate speech; stresses multilateralism to meet global challenges
UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the international community to
stay away from hate speech, saying that practice was a threat to human rights and sustainable development as well as to world peace and security.
“We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past. Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting the mainstream,” the UN chief said at his first press conference of 2019 held at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.
“We need to enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today – and, in particular, to tackle the rise of hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance,” he added.
Speaking of his recent meetings with member states, the UN chief told reporters that the word he heard most from them was “multilateralism.”
“As we look to the challenges we face – from climate change to migration to terrorism to the downsides of globalization – there is no doubt in my mind that global challenges require global solutions,” he said.
“No country can do it alone. We need today multilateralism more than ever,” he added.
While stressing the importance of action rather than empty talk, the secretary-general said that he was “equally convinced that simply saying this (multilateralism) will not make it happen.”
“And simply dismissing or vilifying the doubters of multilateralism will lead nowhere,” he added.
While pointing out the fact that “many people around the world are not convinced of the power and purpose of international cooperation,” he said, “we need to understand why – and act on that understanding.”
Turning to the responsibilities of governments and institutions, the UN chief said, “the biggest challenge” that governments and institutions face today is to show that they care – and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties “with answers, concrete answers.”
As for what the UN should do, the Secretary-General said that this international organization should first of all “demonstrate through concrete solutions that the UN is standing up for people left behind and is connected to their needs, aspirations and everyday problems.”
“The key is a fair globalization – and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our blueprint for that fair globalization,” he said.
“Second, we need to show the added value of the United Nations,” said the UN chief, adding, “the UN has so on many fronts.”
The approval of the work programme of the Paris Climate Agreement in Katowice of Poland, and the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees were all good examples in this regard.
Observing that there is a huge deficit of trust in governments, political establishments and international organizations, he said at such times, explanations can sound like excuses and people can become easy targets for nationalists, populists and all those who profit from fear.
“The best-selling brand in our world today is indeed fear. It gets ratings. It wins votes. It generates clicks. So I believe the biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is to show that we care — and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with answers, concrete answers,” Guterres said.
The secretary general said the UN needs to demonstrate through concrete solutions that it is standing up for the people left behind and is connected to their needs, aspirations and everyday problems.
Speaking of the progress in UN reform, the secretary-general said, “we are doing exactly what we have promised in relation to reform.”
“We need to be effective in both asserting our universal values and in addressing the root causes of fear, mistrust, anxiety and anger,” he said.
“That is the key to bring people along in defence of those values that are under such grave threat today,” he noted.