UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday decried growing violations of international humanitarian laws and the emergence of “new forms of authoritarianism’’ around the globe.
Addressing world leaders at the opening of the UN General Debate in New York, Guterres said he was seeing not only “borders but hearts closing’’, and increased hostility by all societies to foreigners.
“We also see new forms of authoritarianism appearing, and the civic space is narrowing and citizens’ voices stifled.
“Human rights advocates, environmental activists and journalists are being targeted.
“Day after day, clique by clique, camera by camera, surveillance systems are expanding their reach and encroaching on our privacy.
“But these breaches go beyond the breakdown of rules governing the behaviours of states and businesses. They are playing out on a deeper level’’, he said.
The UN Chief noted that all those called to question “our compassion and our humanity’’.
Guterres said at a time of unprecedented movement of refugees and internally displaced people across borders, countries were shutting their borders and the doors of their hearts.
“We see not only borders but also hearts closing and all societies becoming hostile to foreigners.
“ We can see refugees and families torn apart and other rights to seek asylum flouted,’’ he said.
Guterres urged world leaders to uphold the first-ever Global Compact on Migration last December and strengthen international cooperation for orderly migration.
In his opening address, President of the 74th General Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, called for the strengthening of cooperation among nations for the promotion of international peace and security.
“The promotion of international peace and security is at the heart of the work of the United Nations.
“We must continue to strengthen the Organisation by ensuring that its peace and security architecture is appropriate for the 21st century, particularly making a priority of prevention.
“Drivers of conflict such as poverty, inequality, human rights abuses, lack of access to education and employment opportunities, must be tackled head-on.
“Through proper sharing of ideas and functional partnerships, we can address them successfully,’’ he said.(NAN)