“These are anxious times for many, and our world is undergoing a stress test,” Guterres said. “Climate change is running faster than we are. Geo-political divisions are deepening, making conflicts more difficult to resolve. And record numbers of people are moving in search of safety and protection.
“Inequality is growing,” he continued. “People are questioning a world in which a handful of people hold the same wealth as half of humanity. Intolerance is on the rise. Trust is on the decline. “
But he saw reasons for hope in 2018 in some conflicts and mentioned peace talks on Yemen, an agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea that has eased long-running tensions, and the agreement between the parties to the conflict in South Sudan that has revitalized chances for peace.
However, it remains to be seen if the war in Yemen that has resulted in the worst humanitarian disaster in modern times will come to an end in 2019. The war started in 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition interfered in the civil war in Yemen, supported logistically by the US, while EU Member States have been exporting weapons to Saudi-Arabia.
The most important achievement by the United Nations in 2018 was the Katowice Climate Change Conference where it managed to bring countries together to approve the Work Programme for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Now we need to increase ambition to beat this existential threat. It’s time to seize our last best chance. It’s time to stop uncontrolled and spiralling climate change,” the UN Secretary-General summarized.
Another achievement was that the United Nations in recent weeks oversaw landmark global agreements on migration and refugees, that will help to save lives and overcome damaging myths.
Guterres also highlighted that people everywhere are mobilizing behind the Sustainable Development Goals – “our global blueprint for peace, justice and prosperity on a healthy planet”.
“In 2019, the United Nations will continue to bring people together to build bridges and create space for solutions,” he concluded his message, wishing all a peaceful and healthy New Year. “We will keep up the pressure. And we will never give up.”