Munich, 23 February 2022 (TDI): António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations addressed the Munich Security Conference that was held in Germany.

In his opening remarks the Secretary-General stated that after a three-year absence, it’s a pleasure to be back in Munich. It is unfortunate that the world has gotten more complicated and dangerous since that time. He shared that he had figured out five major points, which are the most important ones.

To begin with, the chasms between nations have become wider and deeper in recent years. These disagreements often stop the Security Council from getting things done. This creates a climate of impunity where both state and non-state actors think they can do anything.

The Secretary-General stated that a lot of people ask if there is another Cold War. As a result, the threat to global security is more complex and probably even worse now than it was in the past.

Processes were in place during much of the Cold War that made it possible for people to think about risks and use backchannels to avoid crises.

There aren’t many of these systems left and the vast majority of people who knew how to operate them are now gone. It’s easy for an incident between two powers to become out of hand due to misunderstandings or errors in judgment.

Antonio Guterres expressed his worries about rising tensions and fears of a war in Europe because Russian forces are stationed near Ukraine. Despite all the evidence, he stated that he feels it will not happen.

Munich Security Conference Opening Remarks
Munich Security Conference Opening Remarks

However, the consequences would be disastrous if this were to happen. The only choice is diplomacy. A diplomatic solution must be sought for all disputes—even the most difficult ones. And it’s far past time for a major de-escalation of the situation.

He quoted from the United Nations Charter, which is a cornerstone of international law: international peace, security, and justice will not be at risk if all members of the international community work together to solve their conflicts peacefully.

Everyone must not act in ways that don’t meet the goals of the United Nations. Force must also not be used or threatened against the sovereignty or political independence of any country. There is no ambiguity in the Charter.

Likewise, the Secretary-General urged all sides to exercise extreme caution when making public pronouncements as well. The goal of public speaking should not be to aggravate tensions, but rather to ease them.

In addition, the UN system, which includes the humanitarian work in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, is still working in Ukraine. For that, he thanked the Ukrainian government.

Also, he further enunciated that geographic distinctions can and must be governed, even if they can not be completely eliminated. There is a chance the New Agenda for Peace could speed up efforts to improve collective security. Establishing trust and establishing respect for international law are essential.

As a result, crises are occurring more frequently. Regional and global powers have become involved in many conflicts in recent years. Yemen’s and Libya’s civil wars are rife with regional rivalries that go back generations. As crises get more polarized, they become more complex.

The coalitions formed by a wide range of people are always changing, but each one has a specific goal in mind. States aren’t meeting their people’s needs and expectations, which is causing tensions and social unrest.

For a long time, coups d’état were rare occurrences. The changes that are making the world more unstable are both a sign of and the source of that instability.

And last but not least, the Secretary-General highlighted that the world is still threatened by international terrorism. In Syria, Da’esh uses youngsters as human shields. They’ve regained a large degree of their ability to cause harm.

They know how to take advantage of power vacuums and manipulate weak governments, as shown by the threat of terrorism spreading beyond Afghanistan and the alarming spread of terrorism in many African countries, which are both very dangerous.

Chapter VII of the UN Charter calls for effective African peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations to be carried out by Africans. These operations should be supported by the UN Security Council and be mandated by them. The existing situation is not sustainable.

Extremism and terrorism thrive in areas where poverty, hunger, inequality, and injustice are prevalent. And the Sustainable Development Goals continue to be our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.

Climate change, inequality, and the COVID-19 virus are just a few of the threats that aren’t traditional. Violent conflict and violence are on the rise as a result of racial, ethnic, and economic discrimination.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been exposed to a global financial system that’s incompetent and morally bankrupt. Many countries in the Global South have lost a lot of money because of the outbreak, and many still need vaccines.

Munich Security Conference Opening Remarks
Munich Security Conference Opening Remarks

There is going to be a financial and debt default for both governments and their people. Climate change is creating devastation and forcing record numbers of people to flee their homes. Destabilizing entire regions is a real possibility, as a result.

To keep the Paris Agreement on climate change, the World Health Organization’s global vaccination strategy and urgent changes to the global financial system from ending, the Secretary-General encouraged all countries to step up their support for global solutions to these threats.

Last but not least, advances in digital technology are making it possible for large groups of people to injure one another in ever more lethal ways, from cyberattacks to weaponry powered by Artificial Intelligence.

Hybrid warfare is common in many conflicts when the battle takes place on and off the battlefield. Because of digital contact, propaganda and conspiracy theories are spreading like wildfire. Racism and hate speech fan the flames of conflict.

It is one of the goals for Global Digital Compact to come up with common solutions that will allow for the safe development of digital technology and ensure its benefits for everyone.

A global code of behaviour for public information integrity is also something that he advocated for. Large-scale disinformation that defies scientifically confirmed truths is a serious threat to national security.

The Future Summit of the United Nations, which will take place next year, has as its principal goal the improvement of global governance.

Lastly, human rights and democracy are in jeopardy because of these threats. An increase in peace diplomacy, political desire for peace, and peace investment are all things urgently needed.