War in Ukraine: No chance for serious peace negotiations yet, UN chief says


Following that sobering assessment, António Guterres also told the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that he remains committed to alleviating the suffering of Ukrainians and vulnerable people around the world, still reeling from the “dramatic, devastating effects” of the conflict on the global economy.

“There will be an end… there will be an end to everything, but I don’t see an end to the war in the near futuresaid Mr. Guterres. “I don’t see an opportunity for serious peace negotiations between the two sides at the moment.”

Tragic helicopter crash response

In a related development, the UN’s top humanitarian official in Ukraine expressed deep sadness over the helicopter crash near a kindergarten, in a suburb of Kiev on Wednesday morning, which claimed the lives of at least 18 victims, including the minister of Interior of the country.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death from Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, First Deputy Minister Yevhen Yenin and Secretary of State Yurii Lubkovych,” said Denise Brown. The UN resident coordinator for Ukraine confirmed that other unnamed government officials and residents, including children, were killed and injured in the Brovary incident.

© UNICEF/Diego Ibarra Sanchez

A man mourns his dead best friend at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine.

Worlds apart

The Secretary-General reiterated that the February 24 Russian invasion was in violation of international law and the UN Charter and stressed how difficult it is to end the violence as the two sides are still “two different ideas of what the Russian Empire was, what the nationalities were”.

He added: “This makes it more difficult to find a solution, but that solution must be based on international law and must respect territorial integrity…I don’t see any conditions for that to happen in the near future.”

With Ukrainian and Russian fighters engaged in a war of attrition, Guterres insisted that the UN had nevertheless helped to secure support from Kiev and Moscow to ship much-needed grain and fertilizer to countries facing growing food insecurity or try to fend off. .

To date, 17.8 million tons of goods have been shipped under the Black Sea Grain Initiative to countries such as Afghanistan, China, Israel, Kenya and Tunisia, with corn, wheat and sunflower meal or oil supplied in the largest quantities.

UN is committed to peace

The UN has also continued to engage with Ukrainian and Russian representatives in several other flashpoint areas in the interests of peace, the secretary-general stressed.

These include discussing exchange of prisoners of war with both sides, to support the work of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in its efforts to secure the affected Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and all other plants in the country. “We are doing everything we can to limit the damage, reduce the suffering,” said Mr Guterres, guided by the twin principles of international law and territorial integrity.

Mr Guterres said that as the world faces the greatest levels of geopolitical division and mistrust “in generations”, leaders in Davos and elsewhere needed to bridge the divide and restore cooperation to promote peace, sustainable development and human rights.

Reminder of the climate crisis

In an extended address to world leaders in Davos, which covered everything from a looming US-China clash to the growing divide between the Global South and the Global North, the UN Secretary-General issued a new appeal to the world leaders on the climate crisis.

“Every week brings a new climate horror story,” he said in an appeal to industrialized nations “finally deliver” on their $100 billion climate finance commitment support developing countries. “Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and rising. The commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is almost gone up in smoke. Without further action, we are heading for an increase of 2.8 degrees.”

Unless tough political decisions are made to tackle the climate crisis, Mr Guterres warned that “this would mean a death sentence for many”.

Private industry also needed to do more to help the climate, he stressed, before urging business leaders attending Davos to adhere to UN-backed net-zero guidelines, not “questionable or shady” benchmarks.

“Without creating the conditions for massive private sector involvement, it will be impossible to move from the billions to the trillions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said the Secretary-General.

On Civil Society Day and Energy Day at COP27, activists protest against oil and gas exploration in Africa.

UN News/Laura Quiñones

On Civil Society Day and Energy Day at COP27, activists protest against oil and gas exploration in Africa.

Big Oil Challenge

The UN chief also addressed major fossil fuel producers, highlighting recently reported revelations that some ” fully aware in the 1970’s that their core product was ‘baking’ the planet.

“Some of Big Oil have been spreading the big lie,” the UN chief continued, “but we know the the collapse of ecosystems is a cold, hard, scientific fact”.

In a call for greater international cooperation and confidence building to solve so many interconnected problems, Mr. Guterres that divisions between the United States and China threatened to decouple the world’s two largest economies.

Such a split – which has cost the global economy $1.4 trillion by the International Monetary Fund – would lead to “two different sets of trading rules, two dominant currencies, two internets and two conflicting artificial intelligence strategies. This is the last thing we need,” said the Secretary-General.

And while it was to be expected that relations between the US and China would differ on human rights and security issues, it is essential that both continue to make meaningful commitments to climate, trade and technology, “to prevent economies or even the possibility of a future confrontation”.

North-South separation

The UN chief also warned that the North-South divide “is getting deeper”, because of “frustration and anger at the gross disparity of vaccine distribution in the recent past (and) over the recovery from the pandemic”, for which support was “overwhelmingly concentrated in wealthier countries that could print money”.

Trillions of dollars had been printed in the Global North, Mr Guterres explained, while developing countries “could not print money because their currencies would go down the drain”.

The Global South was also crippled by the climate crisis – even though it contributed the least to global warming – and the lack of funding to meet the challenge, the UN chief continued.

The secretary-general reiterated his call for multilateral development banks to “change their business model”, explaining that emerging countries really need access to a “massive inflow of private finance at reasonable interest rates.

“International financial institutions are too small and the capacity to increase overseas development aid is not expected in the short term,” he said.

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