No Region is Immune from Rising Inequalities, Trade Tensions & Declining Growth Rates

By Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United
BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov 4 2019 (IPS)

We are facing tense and turbulent times around the globe. Rising
inequality is a danger everywhere. Trade and technology tensions
are building. Growth forecasts are being revised down. Unease and
uncertainty are going up. This is a global phenomenon. No region is

As I said at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly,
I see another concern emerging on the horizon, the possibility of a
Great Fracture – with the two world’s largest economies
splitting the globe into two – each with its own dominant
currency, trade and financial rules, its own internet and
artificial intelligence capacities, and its own zero sum
geopolitical and military strategies.

We must do everything possible to avert this Great Fracture and
maintain a universal system – a universal economy with universal
respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong
multilateral institutions.

I firmly believe the nations of ASEAN are well-positioned to
play a key role in the solution of this question. I fully
appreciate ASEAN’s steadfast support for multilateralism and a
rules-based international order.

We are also grateful for the collective contribution of more
than 5,000 peacekeepers to UN operations, including a growing
number of women.

Strong economic development in ASEAN countries has improved
lives and lifted millions out of poverty. But it is important to
recognize that there are still people being left behind.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our shared
blueprint for a fair globalization. Yet our world is far off track
in meeting the Goals. Together, we have identified many
complementarities between ASEAN’s Vision 2025 and the 2030

The United Nations stands ready to
support ASEAN to urgently accelerate progress across all the SDGs,
in particular through our collective efforts on peace and justice,
decent work and climate action.

I know you also keenly understand the interconnections of the
climate crisis with sustainable development, peace and human
security. Indeed, the climate emergency is the defining issue of
our time.

Four of the ten countries most affected by climate change are
ASEAN Member States. This region is highly vulnerable, particularly
to rising sea-levels, with catastrophic consequences for low-lying
communities, as recently published research illustrated.

Seventy percent of global population that will be more affected
by rising sea-levels are in countries both within ASEAN and
countries that will be represented at summits later this week.

I thank you for your important contributions to September
Climate Action Summit. If our world is to avoid climate
catastrophe, far more is needed by all to heed the call of science
and cut greenhouse emissions by 45 percent by 2030; reach carbon
neutrality by 2050; and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by
the end of the century.

I have been strongly advocating for more progress on carbon
pricing, ensuring no new coal plants by 2020, and ending the
allocation of trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money for fossil
fuel subsidies that serve only to boost hurricanes, spread tropical
diseases and heighten conflict.

I am particularly worried about the future impact of the high
number of new coal power plants still projected in some parts of
the world, including several countries in East, South and South
East Asia.

At the same time, developed countries must fulfil their
commitment to provide $100 billion a year from public and private
sources by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in developing

I count on your leadership to undertake the concrete actions
necessary to confront the world’s climate emergency. We are
closely following the work of the ASEAN Intergovernmental
Commission on Human Rights as well as ASEAN’s Commission on the
Rights of Women and Children, that have our full support.

The United Nations will continue to work with ASEAN in key human
rights areas such as freedom of expression, the right to a healthy
environment and conducting business in a way that fully respects
human rights – a very important initiative by Thailand

We look forward to ASEAN’s further efforts to deepen trust in
the region towards sustainable peace, security, and complete and
verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

I remain deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar,
including Rakhine State, and the plight of the massive number of
refugees still living increasingly in difficult conditions.

It remains, of course, Myanmar’s responsibility to address the
root causes and ensure a conducive environment for the safe,
voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees to
Rakhine State, in accordance with international norms and

To facilitate dialogue with refugees and pursue confidence
building measures.
To ensure humanitarian actors have full and unfettered access to
areas of return, as well as communities in need;

To approve without delay Quick Impact Projects focused on
livelihoods, infrastructure, basic services and protection; to
allow for a rapid solution for those still internally displaced in
the country.

All these steps are in line with the recommendations of the
Advisory Commission on Rakhine State which needs urgent follow-up
in its entirety. I welcome ASEAN’s recent engagement with Myanmar
and encourage its continued efforts.

In the broader region, I am encouraged by ASEAN Member States
and China’s ongoing efforts to conclude a Code of Conduct on the
South China Sea.

The United Nations has consistently called on all parties to
resolve disputes through peaceful dialogue, in accordance with
international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the

Finally, the United Nations will also continue to provide
technical support for ASEAN’s comprehensive strategies for
counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism, including by
involving women, youth and civil society.

Let me conclude by once again expressing my great appreciation
for our Comprehensive Partnership.

Together, let us keep building on this vital partnership to
ensure dignity and opportunity for the people of the ASEAN region
and beyond.

*Excerpts from an address to the ASEAN Summit on ‘Advancing
Partnership for Sustainability’ in Bangkok, Thailand last

The post
No Region is Immune from Rising Inequalities, Trade Tensions &
Declining Growth Rates
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No Region is Immune from Rising Inequalities, Trade Tensions & Declining Growth Rates