UN chief Antonio Guterres calls for political solutions in Afghanistan

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a news conference ahead of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 13, 2017. (Source: REUTERS) Related News

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that there can be no military solution to the problem in Afghanistan and it should work for creating political solution in the country. “I believe it is important in Afghanistan to invest in the conditions to create a political solution. I believe that is possible,” Guterres told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.

He was responding to a question on resolving the lingering crisis in Afghanistan. “I don’t think there is a military solution to the crisis in Afghanistan, as I don’t think there is a military solution for practically any crisis in the world,” he said.

Guterres said he believes that investing in creating such a condition means the engagement in dialogue with the relevant parties. “Even when the US have announced their surge, they were also saying that they believe a political solution is necessary,” he said.

“So, it is clear for me that, independently of short-term measures that might be taken, the political solution is the long-term road that we need all to move on,” Guterres said.

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UN chief Antonio Guterres calls for political solution to Korean crisis

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a news conference ahead of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 13, 2017. (Source: REUTERS) Related News

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for a political solution to the current situation in Korean peninsula, which has worsened in recent months in the wake of series of ballistic missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang. “The solution can only be political. Military action could cause devastation on a scale that would take generations to overcome,” Guterres told reporters at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York.

Noting that nuclear and missile tests by the North Korea have created great instability and tension on the Korean peninsula, throughout the region and beyond, the UN Secretary General said unity in the Security Council is critical.

This week’s unanimous adoption of a new resolution by the Security Council sends a clear message that North Korea must comply fully with its international obligations, he said and called on all Member States to ensure the full implementation of this and other relevant Security Council resolutions. “But Security Council unity also creates an opportunity for diplomatic engagement – an opportunity that must be seized,” Guterres said.

Meanwhile in an interview to Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank, Nicholas Burns, a former top American diplomat said that the new sanctions imposed by UN Security Council on North Korea are not enough. “The sanctions are a step forward, but they are not significant enough. It is disappointing that Russia and China will not agree to tougher sanctions because that is what is required,” he said.

“We are in a new and dangerous phase of the crisis following the apparent hydrogen bomb test and also the ballistic missile firing by North Korea over Hokkaido,” Burns said.

“The world community has got to take stronger actions against North Korea to convince the North Koreans to freeze their nuclear program and agree to negotiations to try to diminish this crisis,” he said.

Noting that the Chinese have a direct interest here, he said, but they are hesitating in deepening their own leverage and coercion against North Korea. “It may be that China worries that a dissolution of the North Korean regime could lead to a flow of North Korean refugees into China, ” Burns said.

“It is certainly true that the Chinese worry that any kind of crisis that could weaken or destroy North Korea and could lead to the unification of the Korean Peninsula with its capital in Seoul—a country that is aligned with the United States—is not in China’s interests,” he said.

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls on Myanmar to end violence, urges aid

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Source: Reuters) Related News

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on authorities in Myanmar to end violence against the majority-Buddhist country’s Rohingya Muslims and acknowledged the situation there is best described as ethnic cleansing. The humanitarian situation in Myanmar was “catastrophic,” Guterres said, and called on all countries to do what they could to supply aid.

“I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” Guterres said at a news conference.

Pressure has been mounting on Myanmar to end violence that has sent about 370,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, with the United States calling for protection of civilians and Bangladesh urging safe zones to enable refugees to go home. Asked if the situation could be described as ethnic cleansing, Guterres replied: “Well I would answer your question with another question: When one-third of the Rohingya population had to flee the country, could you find a better word to describe it?”

The secretary-general also said he has spoken to , Myanmar’s national leader, several times. “This is a dramatic tragedy. People are dying and suffering at horrible numbers and we need to stop it. That is my main concern,” he said. Suu Kyi canceled a trip to the upcoming U.N. General Assembly to deal with the crisis, her office said on Wednesday.

The U.N. Security Council is to meet on Wednesday behind closed doors for the second time since the crisis erupted. British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said he hoped there would be a public statement agreed by the council. The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, says its security forces are fighting Rohingya militants behind a surge of violence in Rakhine state that began on Aug. 25, and they are doing all they can to avoid harming civilians.

The government says about 400 people have been killed in the fighting, the latest in the western state. The U.N.’s top human rights official earlier this week denounced Myanmar for conducting a “cruel military operation” against the Rohingya, branding it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

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UN chief asks nations to commit to Paris deal amid rising deaths due to floods

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Related News

Citing the “dramatic floods” in India and Nepal, UN chief has urged nations to commit to the historic Paris deal to address the threats posed by climate change as natural disasters become frequent and more devastating. Weeks of torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have devastated the lives of millions of children and families.

UNICEF estimates that almost 16 million children and their families are in urgent need of life-saving support. Since mid-August, there have been at least 1,288 reported deaths. “First of all, climate change today is undeniable. In the US, as in Portugal and other parts of the world, we are seeing heat waves, we are seeing dramatic floods – Sierra Leone, India, Nepal – we always had floods in the past but now natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more intense and with more devastating consequences,” Guterres said.

He said as deserts are progressing, glaciers diminishing and sea levels starting to rise, it is clearly a threat to humanity. “To fight it we have today an important instrument – the Paris Agreement. We need to make sure that all countries commit themselves to that [accord],” he said. Without naming the US, which has decided to pull out of the climate accord, Guterres said wherever countries are not able to commit to the climate deal at the government level, societies, the business communities and cities should lead the process.

The Paris climate deal aims to prevent the Earth from heating up by 2 degrees Celsius since the start of the industrial age. The US is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. “…In this way, we can be able to meet the Paris Agreement, but with an increased ambition because Paris is not enough to be able to contain global warming at the level that is acceptable,” he added.

With the world facing the challenges of terrorism, extremism and the refugee crisis, Guterres said the UN must be an instrument for a surge in diplomacy for peace. He said nations must forget their and come together to put an end to these tragic series of crises, violence and conflicts. “Because these conflicts are also becoming more and more interlinked and more linked to global terrorism. So we need to fight terrorists where they are, but we need to address the root causes of terrorism,” he said.

Guterres asserted that there is need for nations to come together to solve conflicts and at the same time build cohesive societies where “people can feel they belong, where they don’t feel discriminated [against] and respect human rights, to make sure that terrorist organisations have more and more difficulties recruiting people”. “So we need – in sustainable development, in human rights and in a peace and security approach – to combine all the UN instruments in order to be able to defeat terrorism,” he added.

Earlier this week, Guterres had said that India, China and the US have experienced the most natural disasters since 1995 as he urged nations to get serious about keeping the ambition high on climate action.

“The United States, followed by China and India, have experienced the most disasters since 1995,” Guterres had said, adding that last year alone, 24.2 million people were displaced by sudden-onset disasters – three times as many as by conflict and violence. Guterres had said the UN stands ready to support relief efforts in any way possible. He added that the number of natural disasters has nearly quadrupled since 1970.

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UN condemns North Korea nuclear tests

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Related News

UN chief Antonio Guterres has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests and offered to support any effort to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. On Sunday, North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile and called it a “perfect success”, inviting worldwide condemnation and promises of tougher US sanctions. “Yet again, North Korea has broken the global norm against nuclear test explosions,” UN Secretary-General Guterres said yesterday.

Guterres unequivocally condemned the latest nuclear and missile tests. Pyongyang has defied the Security Council resolutions. “North Korea has needlessly and recklessly put millions of people at risk – including its own citizens already suffering drought, hunger and serious violations of their human rights,” he added.

Guterres reiterated his call on North Korean authorities to comply fully with its international obligations, including the various UN Security Council resolutions. He welcomed the most recent meeting of the Security Council, saying: “The unity of the Council is crucial in addressing this crisis. That unity also creates an opportunity to engage diplomatically to decrease tensions, increase confidence and prevent any escalation – all aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

The Secretary-General stressed dialogue and communication as necessary to avoid miscalculation or misunderstanding. “Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences,” he added. “The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific”.

“As Secretary-General, I am ready to support any efforts towards a peaceful solution of this alarming situation, and as I said, to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” he said. In response to a question on which of the global challenges he thought would be most focussed upon at the forthcoming General Assembly’s High-Level Week, Guterres said, the “most dangerous crisis” the world faces today is the crisis related to the nuclear risk in relation to North Korea.

“We all have the experience of the First World War. Wars usually do not start by a decision taken in a moment by the parties to go to war. If you look at the history of the First World War, it was on a step-by-step basis, one party doing one thing, the other party doing another, and then an escalation taking place…This is the risk we need to avoid in relation to the situation of North Korea,” he said. He added that all members of the Security Council must come together and make it clear to North Korea that they need to negotiate in order for the achievement of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

“I know that the leverage of the UN is limited. I know that our capacity is limited. I’ve just signalled to the parties that I’m entirely at their disposal, but I recognise that what is crucial here is the unity of the Security Council and the capacity of countries to come together with a single strategy to deal with North Korea,” he added.

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