As World Faces Maximum Danger, Ensuring Collective Security Requires Dialogue, Cooperation, Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Security Council meeting on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Promoting Common Security through Dialogue and Cooperation”, today in New York:
Thank you for convening the Council on this essential topic.
Our collective security demands that we seize every moment to forge a common understanding of the threats and challenges before us. And most importantly, to shape united responses to them. As the focus of this briefing makes clear, the path to peace is forged by dialogue and cooperation.
I have just returned from Ukraine, Türkiye and Moldova — and I look forward to speaking further about this visit on Wednesday. There, I saw the Black Sea Grain Initiative in action — an initiative to get grain and other vital food supplies moving again through Ukrainian ports. In parallel, we have an agreement to facilitate unimpeded access to global markets for food and fertilizers originating from the Russian Federation.
This comprehensive plan is crucial for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, who are desperately counting on these food supplies. Above all, it is a concrete example of how dialogue and cooperation can deliver hope, even in the midst of conflict.
The same commitment to dialogue and results must be applied to the critical situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. I re-affirm that the United Nations has in Ukraine the logistics and security capacities to support a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency from Kyiv to Zaporizhzhia. And we continue the relentless search for peace in Ukraine and across the globe in line with the United Nations Charter and international law.
This Council represents a vital part of the process of peace and prevention, through resolutions to ease conflicts, support reconciliation, and provide humanitarian assistance and support to millions of people in need.
But today’s collective security system is being tested like never before. Our world is riven by geopolitical divides, conflicts and instability. From military coups, to inter-State conflicts, invasions, and wars that stretch on year after year. Lingering differences between the world’s great Powers — including at this Council — continue to limit our ability to collectively respond. Humanitarian assistance is stretched to the breaking point. Human rights and the rule of law are under assault. Trust is in short supply.
Many of the systems established decades ago are now facing challenges that were unimaginable to our predecessors — cyberwarfare, terrorism, and lethal autonomous weapons. And the nuclear risk has climbed to its highest point in decades.
The tools that have kept us from catastrophic world war are more important than ever. But they must be fit for today’s rapidly deteriorating international peace and security environment. We need to reforge a global consensus around the co-operation required to ensure collective security — including the work of the United Nations.
That is also the driving force behind my proposal for a New Agenda for Peace, contained in my report on Our Common Agenda. Through it, we are exploring the diplomatic toolbox of the UN Charter to end conflicts — especially Chapter VI’s provisions around negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement.
But we are also putting a focus on prevention and peacebuilding. This includes strengthening our foresight of future threats — and anticipating flashpoints and longstanding conditions that could explode into violence. It includes exploring new and expanded roles for regional actors and groups, particularly as cross-border threats to peace and security emerge.
It includes putting human rights first in political and financial investments that can address the root causes of conflict — from social protection and education to programming to end violence and discrimination and increase women’s participation across civic and political life.
It includes the capacity of establishing a new social contract that builds and strengthens the bonds of trust between people who inhabit the same borders — and in the Governments and institutions representing them — so all people can lend their hands to building peace. It includes joint efforts to gather countries around the need to reduce risks stemming from cyberwarfare and lethal autonomous weapons. And it includes accelerating efforts to eliminate the nuclear threat, once and for all.
The Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons meeting this month must demonstrate that progress is possible. I renew my call to all States parties to demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to compromise across all negotiations. Countries with nuclear weapons must commit to the “no first use” of those weapons. They must also assure States that do not have nuclear weapons that they will not use — or threaten to use — nuclear weapons against them, and be transparent throughout.
Nuclear sabre-rattling must stop. We need all States to recommit to a world free of nuclear weapons and to spare no effort to come to the negotiating table to ease tensions and end the nuclear arms race, once and for all.
Humanity’s future is in our hands today. At this moment of maximum danger for our world, now is the time to recommit to the United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents.
There is no greater solution to fulfil the Charter’s promise to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” than to replace division with dialogue and diplomacy. To negotiate and compromise. And to hold ourselves accountable for the future.
This Council, and this organization representing the nations of the world, are humanity’s best hope to build a better, more peaceful tomorrow. As we develop our New Agenda for Peace, let’s show that we’ve learned from the lessons of the past. Let’s re-commit to the eternal tools of peace — dialogue, diplomacy and mutual trust. Thank you.