UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today of growing political polarisation and social inequalities and implored UN members to show greater tolerance and mutual respect to bring the world together.
In his keynote speech to the opening of the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting, the UN chief told leaders from the 192-member nations that “today, we are being tested”.
Ban said people everywhere are living in fear of losing their jobs, too many are caught in conflict, “and we see a new politics at work – a politics of polarisation”.
“We hear the language of hate, false divisions between ’them’ and ’us,’ those who insist on ’their way’ or ’no way,”’ he said.
In times of such polarisation and uncertainty, Ban said, “let us remember, the world still looks to the United Nations for moral and political leadership”.
The meeting follows a three-day summit to promote the achievement of UN anti-poverty goals by 2015 that ended last night. Many leaders who attended that summit remained in New York for the ministerial session, and will shift gears to other world issues from the continuing impact of the global financial crisis to terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Today’s session heard from President Barack Obama this morning. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks later today as key nations try to bring Iran to the negotiating table over it’s nuclear programme.
Ban urged Iran “to engage constructively with the international community and comply fully with Security Council resolutions” calling for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and return to talks.
The secretary-general also touched on many other global issues – urging North Korea to return to six-party talks on its nuclear programme, calling on Israel and the Palestinians not to take any action that would hold back progress on peace talks, urging progress on nuclear disarmament where “we see new momentum,” and declaring again the climate change remains the world’s “defining challenge.”