On Feb. 7, UN Secretary-General António Guterres laid out his 2024 priorities in a speech to the UN General Assembly. Warning that the world has entered an “age of chaos,” Guterres said, “There is so much anger and hate and noise in our world today. As I scan the landscape… the one thing missing most dramatically is peace.”
At the helm of a body whose raison d’être is peace, Guterres reminded his audience that how the UN rises to this moment is both a measure of the world’s shared humanity and a test of our creativity and tenacity.
Here are 10 quotable moments from a speech heard around the world.
- People want peace and dignity. And frankly, they want peace and quiet. There is so much anger and hate and noise in our world today… so many peddling the perverse math that says you multiply support by dividing people. This is especially troubling in a year when half of humanity will go to the polls.
“People want peace and dignity. And frankly, they want peace and quiet.”
- Our world badly needs reform of the Security Council, reform of the international financial system, [and] meaningful engagement of youth in decision-making.
- For millions of people caught up in conflict around the world, life is a deadly, daily, hungry hell.
- If countries fulfilled their obligations under the [UN] Charter, every person’s right to a life of peace and dignity would be guaranteed. But governments are ignoring and undermining the very tenets of multilateralism – with zero accountability.
“If countries fulfilled their obligations under the UN Charter, every person’s right to a life of peace and dignity would be guaranteed.”
- It is totally unacceptable that the African continent is still waiting for a permanent seat [at the UN Security Council].
- Today’s global economic outlook largely ignores the elephant in the room: developing countries are experiencing their worst half-decade since the early 1990s… Today’s [international finance system] architecture is outdated, dysfunctional and unfair. It favors the rich countries that designed it nearly 80 years ago.
- From healthcare to education, from climate action to food systems, generative AI is the most important potential tool to build inclusive, green, sustainable economies and societies. But AI is already creating risks around disinformation, privacy, and bias.
“Generative AI is the most important potential tool to build inclusive, green, sustainable economies and societies.”
- We must make peace with the planet. Humanity has waged a war we can only lose: our war with nature. It is a crazy fight to pick… The climate crisis remains the defining challenge of our time.
- The fossil fuel era is on its last legs. The renewable energy revolution is unstoppable.
- Wars destroy. Peace builds. In today’s troubled world, building peace is a… bold and radical act.
“Building peace is a bold and radical act.”