New York, 3 February 2022 (TDI): A press conference was held in the General Assembly in the last week where the Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined the main factors he will be focusing on in the coming year.

The Secretary-General commenced his speech with a warning to the leaders gathered in the meeting, specifically highlighting the issue of 2022 being a year that was filled with many alarming situations that need to be dealt with immediately.

He highlighted that the issues faced by the world today were ones that were specifically created by humanity and thus humanity must be able to solve these problems as well.

However, he emphasized that such issues require there to be solidarity amongst the world states. He further commented on the nature of man saying solidarity while it was a part of human nature, so was egoism; and while egoism takes the lead, solidarity falls behind.

Secretary-General stated that there was a need to prioritize assistance for nation-states that were the most vulnerable as these were the actors within the international arena that were the most forgotten and lost.

However, the challenges humanity faces today, he claimed were ones that would test all of humanity. He outlined the issues as follows:

  1. There was mass injustice and inequality that was prevalent when the pandemic was dealt with.
  2. There is also the problem of a global economic system that sets the poor to be worse off within the world.
  3. There is a continuous and massive lack of action when it comes to the issue of climate change.
  4. There is increased digitization from the West which benefits from it.
  5. There are a large number of conflicts across the world as economic and social fires increase.
  6. There are lives lost daily through bullets and bombs.
  7. All of this is fueling distrust amongst the people for the institutions that rule the world.
  8. Lastly, there is widespread disintegration of core values such as justice, cooperation, mutual acceptance, and respect as well as equality.

Antonio Guterres emphasized the need to bring back human decency and dignity. He discussed the core values upon which the organization was built saying the United Nations was birthed right after the World War which was a time filled with genocide and mass loss of human life.

In this regard, he added that it was the obligation of the UN to put an end to conflict and any other factor that threatens human life.

Secretary General’s comment on Yemen

Within this address, there was also a comprehensive question and answer session as well. On account of this session, the Secretary-General was asked about Yemen, as in the previous few days, it was seen that there was the Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi as well as the appearance of mercenaries within the coalition led by Saudi Arabia followed by an airstrike which happened on the 30th of January.

He was asked for his opinion on how this escalation of conflict can be halted. To this, the Secretary-General replied, that this attack was not only unacceptable, but it was also regrettable that the matter had escalated to the point it had, he also expressed how he believed that it was a mistake made by the party to have acted the way it did.

The solution he expressed was through a peaceful ceasefire that could stop the vicious cycle of conflict. He also believes that reopening of airports, the harbor as well as the establishment of open dialogue could potentially put this issue to an end.

Secretary General's priorities in 2022
The conflict-struck region of Yemen
Secretary General’s statement on Ukraine 

A reporter expressed his worries about Russia potentially invading Ukraine, while he stated that the Secretary-General had previously dismissed such a rumor; it had still been confirmed and supported by President Biden. He then proceeded to ask him for his remarks for President Vladimir and the circling rumors of Russia’s invasion.

To this the Secretary-General replied that aggression of any kind is redundant in solving the issue, instead, diplomacy can open doors to resolve such a conflict. Furthermore, he states a country invading another is considered a breachment of International law.

Antonio Guterres expressed his desire to see a future void of any invasion and he reaffirmed his previous statement, saying he was confident such an event is unlikely to occur within the near future.

Secretary General's priorities within 2022
Soldiers fighting in Ukraine
Secretary General’s comment on Afghanistan 

A reporter from Turkish news requested Antonio Guterres’ opinion on the issue of human rights and women’s rights within Afghanistan. He asked whether the Secretary-General was of the opinion that the Taliban will keep their promise in terms of respecting women’s rights and gender equality within the country, as he stated that there were females being sold for the purpose of marriage within the country and women fleeing from the country without any form of protection.

He further asked the secretary-general a question on his operation within the year, asking if there were to be any changes within the mode of operations or his priorities within this new term.

To this, the Secretary-General explicitly stated the situation of Afghanistan was already rather dire in terms of human rights and violations of these rights. He stated that it was a priority for the United Nations to establish gender equality and participation of women within all forms of human activity.

He further added that work is being done within the country as progress has been made. He described how permission was granted to the UN women working within the country to continue their field of operations and how in some areas girls were allowed to gain an education.

He further highlighted that although women being allowed to work was acceptable in only a small number of conditions, however, it is still less than the desired amount.

He outlined that the UN (United Nations) has taken steps to negotiate with the Taliban on this account, saying if the new government was to gain the support of the international community to assist their people, it was necessary for them to respect human rights and gender equality.

However, he added that Afghanistan is in a dire situation as the state is going through a humanitarian crisis and that if aid was not given to the people of Afghanistan as a result of de facto authorities boycotting the country, the lives of civilians within the country would suffer further. He then explained that the United Nations would be undergoing two lines of actions:

  1. Humanitarian aid will be provided to the country as it is desired to bring the economy from collapse and save the people of Afghanistan.
  2. The United Nations will insist that the Taliban must respect human rights and adhere to having an inclusive governance

Another question was addressed to the Secretary-General on the issue of Afghanistan, this was regarding the demand made by him to the Taliban government to release the frozen funds and use the funding received from external bodies for the wages of the workers working within the public sector.

The reporter went on to point out that the US (United States) played a significant role in making this a reality, the reporter questioned whether the United States had committed itself to establishing this as a reality within the country.

To this the Secretary-General replied with a positive answer, saying the dialogue in Washington had been a positive one and will promise short-term results.

Secretary-General's priorities in 2022

The Secretary-General’s insights regarding Tunisia  

Here the question was asked in regards to the recent Tunisian elections as there had been an elected President who managed to grapple greater power, as result, according to the reporter this established less freedom within the country for the people as well as the civil society, the statement was followed with a question on how the United Nations and the African Union could mitigate such a situation within the country.

He replied stating it was not just Tunisia that was marked by such a problem but there were multiple such countries facing a similar issue, he replied the best course of action that could resolve such an issue would be through a peaceful solution where the military capacity of each competing party was not enlarged.

In this case, a peaceful policy where open dialogue could be established could result in a solution to ending the greater conflict. The second answer to the problem he elaborated on was concern.

He further explained how the revolution regarding democracy in Tunisia had been inspiring for the whole world, he explained how the UN desired to respect and protect the democratic values within the country, and he hoped to see a greater democratic institutional framework suited for Tunisia that could possibly solve the problem be established within the near future.

Secretary General's priorities for 2022
People of Tunisia coming to the streets to demand elections
Secretary-General on Libya

The discussion over Libya was primarily on the Libyan elections. In terms of an electoral process commencing within the country, the Secretary-General elaborated how Stephanie Williams, his special advisor for the country is working to establish mitigation and conditions that will allow an electoral process to commence within the country in the first semester of 2022.

He further elaborated that this was for the betterment of the Libyan society and its people, how and what comes after those elections, he explained was in the hands of the people of Libya.

Secretary General's priorities for 2022
Libyan forces breaking a protest within Libya
Secretary-General on the US, Russian, and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) relations

A reporter brought up the point of the increasing tensions between the United States and Russia and explained the rumors that speculated there might be an outbreak of what can be considered as the second cold war; the reporter asked the Secretary-General to express his opinion on the security matter and explain how he thinks a full-scale war may be avoided.

Secretary-General Antonio replied that he believes and hopes for effective diplomatic dialogue to take place between the two countries and that through this dialogue, the matter can come to be resolved.

Secretary General's priorities for 2022
A flag of NATO and the United States
Secretary-General’s opinion on the state of China-US relations

The question was asked in terms of China being a global leader when it came to technology and data. What was emphasized in the reporter’s question here was whether a ban on China’s services would interrupt the recovery of the world economy.

To this the Secretary-General emphasized the need for a unified world and for there to be fewer divisions within the economy and the world, he stated that there needs to be an increase in constructive and diplomatic dialogue between states to establish greater understanding and diplomacy.

Secretary-General on the issue of Kashmir 

This question was asked in regards to the ongoing dispute over Kashmir and whether this dispute could pose a potential threat to international security and law. Upon this issue, Secretary-General Antonio referred to the resolutions that were passed on the issue, stating the UN’s response mirrors and supports the stances taken by the resolutions.

He also stated that there was already an ongoing peacekeeping operation within the region and stated the UN was committed to the region. He further expressed how it was hoped that the situation with Kasmir could be solved peacefully, with respect of human rights.

Secretary-General’s opinion on the Houthis militants 

A reporter raised a question about the activities of the Houthis stating that since they were threatening the lives of civilians outside and within Yemen, would it be possible that the United Nations would be interested in marking this organization as a terrorist one like ISIS.

He replied the right to establish which organization was a terrorist was entirely within the hands of the Security Council rather than himself. He did, however, reiterate that the attack within Abu Dhabi was regrettable and that such attacks need to decrease in the upcoming future.

Secretary General's priorities for 2022
A picture showing the Houthi group of militants