CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council of the European Union, said “the United Nations was founded to protect us from our demons”, to elevate the global community towards peace, cooperation and solidarity. Yet, the climate crisis is wreaking havoc, the global effort to combat poverty is weakening, and the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is worsening food insecurity and causing an energy crisis. He advocated for a multipolar world, which cooperates and progresses towards more democracy and more respect for human rights. However, with confidence eroding and tensions increasing, a dangerous bipolar confrontation threatens the world. An example of this is the frantic race for nuclear weapons in the past century or artificial intelligence which — especially in the military domain — is becoming the terrain of geopolitical competition.
Recalling the words of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld that “the United Nations was not created to take us to heaven, but to save us from hell,” he said the UN system is hampered by hostile forces. In this regard, he highlighted the need to restore trust, solve the most urgent problems and fix the United Nations system, as well as to ensure respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and human rights. However, for 19 months, a permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation, has been waging a war of conquest against a neighbouring country which has never threatened it. The General Assembly has repeatedly condemned Moscow’s war against Ukraine which constitutes a violation of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The European Union will tirelessly support Ukraine in exercising its right to self-defence, he emphasized.
However, he continued, the war against Ukraine has not made the other major challenges facing the world disappear. The planet is boiling and the world is torn apart by poverty and injustice, he said, adding: “There will be no miracle if we do not decide to mobilize the massive financing that is necessary.” The international community has collectively committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. However, if it sticks to the plans announced to date, the warming of our planet will reach 2.5°C by the end of the century. The European Union has increased its targets for the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, he pointed out, calling for the tripling of renewable objectives and the doubling of energy efficiency objectives by 2030. Moreover, it is in the interest of all developed countries to strengthen the capacities of developing countries to move towards carbon neutrality.
With natural hazards coming one after another, prevention is key and trade is a powerful tool to fight climate change and ensure prosperity, he said. The economic situation of vulnerable economies has been greatly affected by the COVID‑19 crisis and the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Calling for a fairer and more robust global financial system, he said: “It is not about begging, it is about justice.” Still today, the G7 have almost absolute decision-making power, he observed, noting that the European Union is prepared to better share this decision-making power with regions that have no voice. Underrepresented countries are deprived of financing which impedes their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and increases the possibility of a debt crisis. Against this backdrop, he stressed the need to better mobilize public capital and consolidate financial flows. He also called for United Nations reform on voting rights, representation and the role played by multilateral organizations, voicing support for the initiative to limit veto rights in the case of mass atrocities.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, appealed on Thursday to the international community to protect the principles of the UN Charter, reform the Organization’s governance structures and double down on efforts to fight the climate crisis.
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