Mr Guterres addressed journalists a day after speaking to regional leaders attending the 12th summit between the UN and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Avoid at all costs
“As I said at yesterday’s summit, we must at all costs avoid splitting the world economy in two, Led by the two largest economies – the United States and China,” he said.
“A chasm like this, with two different sets of rules, two dominant currencies, two internets, and two conflicting artificial intelligence strategies would do the trick undermine the world’s ability to respond to the dramatic challenges we face.”
He said ASEAN countries are well positioned to bridge this gap, stressing that “we must a world economy and a world market with access for all.”
“Neverending Nightmare” in Myanmar
The UN chief also reported on some of the issues discussed at the summit, including the situation in Myanmar, which he described as “an endless nightmare for the people of this country and… a threat to peace and security across the region.”
Myanmar’s military took power in February 2021 and since then the country has been in the grip of a political, human rights and humanitarian crisis.
Mr. Guterres said ASEAN has taken a principled approach to the issue through its five-point consensus.
Unified strategy required
Adopted in April 2021, the plan calls for an immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue between the parties, the appointment of a special envoy, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and a visit by the special envoy to the country.
“I urge all countries, including ASEAN members, to strive for a unified strategy towards Myanmar that focuses on the needs and aspirations of the country’s people,” he said.
Solutions for turbulent times
The war in Ukraine, the global energy and food crisis and the climate emergency were also on the agenda of the all-day summit.
“In these turbulent times, regional organizations, including ASEAN, are essential to building global solutions,” Mr Guterres told reporters.
The Secretary-General traveled from Egypt to Cambodia, where the UN climate change conference COP27 is taking place.
Climate Solidarity Pact
Mr Guterres calls for a climate solidarity pact for developed and emerging countries to pool resources and capacities to defeat climate change.
He is also urging leaders to reach agreement on a financial mechanism to support countries suffering losses and damage from climate-related disasters.
Next, the UN chief travels to Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit of the world’s major economies, which begins on Tuesday.
Proposal for a stimulus package
“My priority in Bali will be to advocate for countries in the Global South that have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency and are now facing food, energy and financial crises – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the crushing of debt,” he said.
Mr Guterres wants G20 leaders to pass a stimulus package to inject much-needed investment and liquidity into developing countries.
The United Nations is also working to alleviate the global food crisis by expanding a landmark initiative to bring Ukrainian grain back to markets and removing barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports.
The Secretary-General was asked for his views on human rights in the ASEAN region and in host country Cambodia.
Although the situation varies from country to country, he stressed that human rights should be fully respected.
“Indeed my appeal, and indeed my appeal in a country like Cambodia, is to that public space to be open and for Human rights defenders and climate activists are protectedand for them Cooperation with civil society should be expanded,” he said.
The Secretary-General also expressed concern about Myanmar, saying there were systematic human rights abuses there “absolutely unacceptable” and caused immense suffering for the population.
Hopes for the Indonesian Presidency
Asked about the UN-ASEAN cooperation to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, he said it was important that the five-point consensus move forward.
Indonesia will take over the ASEAN presidency next year and Mr Guterres expressed the hope that initiatives to that end will be developed under his presidency.
“We have to go back to a democracy, to a transition to democracy. We must release political prisoners. We need to establish an inclusive process and I am confident that the Indonesian Presidency will work hard in this regard next year.”
peace in Ukraine
Mr. Guterres also underlined the UN’s clear position on Ukraine, again responding to a journalist’s question.
The Russian invasion was a Violation of the UN Charterhe said, and a violation of the territorial integrity of the country.
At the same time, he emphasized that it is very important to create the conditions for the gradual restoration of dialogue leading to a future in which peace reigns, adding: “Not just any kind of peace – peace based on the values of UN Charter, and Peace Based on International Law”.