Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nations must unite in solidarity and all global hot conflicts must come to a halt, the UN chief urged Tuesday.
“I appeal for a stepped-up international effort – led by the Security Council – to achieve a global cease-fire by the end of this year,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his opening speech to the General Assembly’s historic 75th session.
“We have 100 days. The clock is ticking.”
He added: “The world needs a global cease-fire to stop all ‘hot’ conflicts. At the same time, we must do everything to avoid a new Cold War.”
Speaking at an unprecedented virtual session due to the pandemic, he highlighted the “highest global geo-strategic tensions in years, an existential climate crisis, deep and growing global mistrust, [and the] dark side of the digital world,” as four common threats facing nations, along with COVID-19.
Guterres also urged a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian conflict in line with UN resolutions and international law, calling on both sides to restart peace talks.
“In the Middle East – with a period of calm in Gaza and annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank put aside at least for the time being – I urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations that will realize a two state-solution in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements,” he said.
On the situation in Libya, Guterres said while fighting has subsided, a “massive” buildup of mercenaries threatens renewed confrontation and violations of the UN arms embargo.
On the other hand, he said that recent developments in Sudan, peace talks in Afghanistan, and the calm in Idlib, northwestern Syria – an area covered by a Turkish-Russian cease-fire – are all promising.
The groundbreaking virtual UN General Assembly debate is due to run through next Tuesday, Sept. 29.
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