Sunday, 17 October, 2021
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‘The world must wake up’

Tasks daunting as UN meeting opens

Tasks daunting as UN meeting opens

NEW YORK: In person and on screen, world leaders returned to the United Nations foremost gathering for the first time in two years on Tuesday with a formidable, diplomacy-packed agenda of escalating crises to tackle, including the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic and a relentlessly warming planet, reports The Associated Press.

Other pressing issues include rising US-China tensions, Afghanistan’s unsettled future under its new Taliban rulers and ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region.

Last year, no leaders came to the UN because the coronavirus was sweeping the globe, so all addresses from leaders were prerecorded, though some resident ambassadors spoke. This year, the General Assembly offered leaders a choice — come to New York or remain online. More than 100 decided to appear in person in the General Assembly hall.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who opens the weeklong event, “will pull no punches in expressing his concern about the state of the world, and he will lay out a vision to bridge the numerous divides that stand in the way of progress,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Guterres has already demonstrated that in pointed pre-meeting remarks about the virus and climate change.

“I’m here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up,” Guterres said in his first words after convening the meeting. By tradition, the first country to speak is Brazil, whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, isn’t vaccinated. He reiterated last Thursday that he doesn’t plan to get the shot any time soon, justifying his refusal by saying he had COVID-19 and therefore has a high level of antibodies.