Forging prosperous, democratic and equitable societies, Guterres tells Americas summit — Global Issues

The UN chief was speaking at this year’s Summit of the Americas convened by US President Joseph Biden in Los Angeles, California.

About two dozen leaders are attending the three-day meeting, which began on Tuesday, although several stayed outside to protest the decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Mr. Guterres began his remarks by comparing the host city to the Americas region, as both embody and celebrate diversity.

“Today, it is more important than ever to bring the countries of the Americas closer together and help create the prosperous, democratic and equitable societies that people expect,” he said.

‘Toxic beer’

The secretary-general listed the myriad challenges nations are facing.

“Across the region, we see countries that continue to be oppressed by a toxic mix of inequality, poverty, crime, insecurity, corruption and mistrust,” he said.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed hard-won development gains. Countries are also grappling with climate change, the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine and high levels of poverty and inequality.

Inflation is rising, debt is spiraling and many countries lack the fiscal space and financial support to invest in the recovery, he added. However, middle-income countries in desperate need are considered ineligible for support from international financial institutions.

Losing faith in the government

At the same time, violence and insecurity are driving people to flee their homes and their homelands.

More fundamentally, people are losing faith in their governments and institutions, the secretary-general told attendees.

“They often see crime and corruption going unpunished. They see a broken global financial system that benefits the rich and punishes the poor. They see lies, misinformation and hate speech going viral, sowing division, mistrust and hatred,” he said.

“And they hear the voices of democracy drowned out by growing authoritarian and nationalist sentiments, giving false promises of security and prosperity.”

Children who were evacuated from Barbuda during the 2017 Caribbean hurricane season received educational and recreational supplies from the United Nations Children's Fund.

UNICEF/Manuel Moreno

Children who were evacuated from Barbuda during the 2017 Caribbean hurricane season received educational and recreational supplies from the United Nations Children’s Fund.

investment and support

The UN chief said that the Summit provides an opportunity to address these challenges.

This will involve “redeeming” the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and investing in health, decent work, social protection and ensuring vaccines for all.

He also called for investments in quality education, reforming the global financial system, “ending our addiction to fossil fuels”, protecting biodiversity and increasing financial support to developing countries.

“It includes a fresh look at migration and ensuring that people are welcomed and protected, and given the security, dignity and support that all people deserve under the Global Compact on Migration,” he said.

“We need improved cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, with human rights at its core.”

Addressing challenges in the Americas also includes impartial justice systems that are immune to corruption, new efforts to combat crime and violence, and democratic systems that protect human rights defenders and reflect the voice of the people.

The Secretary-General highlighted the UN’s strong support for the countries in the region.

“Let’s work together to support people across the hemispheric family. We will deliver on all the promises and potential of the Americas.”

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