World faces fragmentation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, January 25, 2019


World faces fragmentation

Warns UN chief referring to ties between US, Russia and China

  • Guterres urges countries to work together and support multilateralism
  • US locked in trade war with China and others 


The world is facing worrying "fragmentation", UN chief Antonio Guterres said yesterday, warning that the relationship between the United States, Russia and China was worryingly out of kilter.

"The relationship between the three most important powers, Russia, the United States and China, has never been as dysfunctional as it is today," the UN secretary-general told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Guterres said the ongoing shift away from a world dominated previously by two Cold War superpowers was creating "a bit of a chaotic situation".

"We no longer live in a bipolar or unipolar world, but we are not yet in a multipolar world," he said.

"Power relations (are) becoming unclear," he added, urging countries to work together and support multilateralism.

The United States has been locked in a trade war with China and others that has rocked the financial markets and sparked fears of a slowdown in the global economy.

And US relations with Moscow have been hit by allegations of Russian meddling in US politics and a stand-off over the fate of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty.

The dysfunction is evident "in the economy, but it is also true in the Security Council," Guterres said, lamenting the recurring "paralysis" of the UN's top body.

"We are in a world in which global challenges are more and more fragmented, and the responses are more and more fragmented," he said.

"If this is not reversed, it is a recipe for disaster."

He acknowledged that many around the world feel disconnected from those in power and from the work of international organisations such as the UN, fuelling nationalism and populism.

"We need to demonstrate to all of those who feel that they were left behind that our ideas, our policies, our programmes aim at solving their problems or helping them to solve them," he said.

Earlier, Guterres demanded bolder action from governments to arrest catastrophic warming.

Following a UN summit last month in Poland, which was designed to advance the Paris climate accord, Guterres said he was "not hopeful" that nations would find the necessary resolve.

But he stressed: "We need political will and we need governments who understand that this is the most important priority of our times."

The Paris accord has been shaken by the withdrawal of the United States under President Donald Trump, and by threats to do the same by Brazil's new hard-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro.

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