Editorial: ‘Gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction’

·3 min read

The world needs no prophet to tell that it is in trouble. The current United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres is no prophet, but he spoke the truth when he opened the international body’s high-level general debate on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 (US time) with a warning, telling world leaders that humanity is “in rough seas.” “A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging. Trust is crumbling. Our planet is burning. People are hurting – with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy,” he said in his speech.

The Covid-19 pandemic has delivered misery to people’s lives and weakened the global economy since 2020. Two years later, several countries, including the Philippines, have started easing travel restrictions to help revive the economy.

It could be said that there were Filipinos who were optimistic that life in the year 2022 would be better. But it has yet to happen. Life, especially for the poor, is bitter.

The global economic revival hit a snag when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last February. The senseless war, condemned by the majority of the UN member nations, has continued, creating a host of crises, one of which is Ukrainian misery, and another being oil price instability that has undoubtedly contributed to inflation.

At the UN General Assembly, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were two high-profile leaders who condemned Russia’s aggression, but they also offered to be peacemakers.

The world could only hope that this war would end sooner than later. If Putin pulls back all the Russian troops, it would do a great service in the name of international peace.

Also talked about at the assembly was climate change, which was among the issues brought up by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who said in a speech (delivered at dawn Wednesday, Sept. 21 in Manila time) that the “effects of climate change are uneven and reflect an historical injustice: Those who are least responsible suffer the most. The Philippines, for example, is a net carbon sink. We absorb carbon dioxide [more] than we emit. And yet, we are the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change.”

Marcos then urged industrialized nations to immediately cut their greenhouse gas emissions and provide financial aid to developing countries like the Philippines.

As climate change is an existential threat to the planet and humanity, President Marcos is right when he said that the “injustice” committed by the developed countries “must be corrected.”

Leaders of industrialized countries must get their act together.

To save the planet not just from wars and the destructive climate change, Guterres said while the international community had the duty to act, “we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”

After World War II in 1945, the United Nations was founded to maintain “international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights,” it said.

Seventy-seven years after its founding, the UN seems to be nowhere near its ideals.

This observation is echoed by Guterres himself: “The international community is not ready or willing to tackle the big dramatic challenges of our age. These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of our planet.”