International bodies lack capacity to solve conflicts, says UN chief

14 Feb 17

Many international institutions do not have the capacity or trust needed to solve today’s conflicts, and this includes the United Nations, the organisation’s chief has said.

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Antonio Gutteres

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general. Credit: Eric Bridiers.

 

Speaking yesterday at the World Government Summit in Dubai, UN secretary-general António Guterres said the UN, particularly the security council, had lost the confidence of countries and citizens.

Many international organisations also “lack the efficiency, the capacity, to respond effectively to the problems” the world faces and require “deep reforms”, he added.

Guterres described a “chaotic” world that was not bipolar, unipolar or multipolar, with “unclear relationships” that brought “unpredictability”, and “deep mistrust” between countries.

“We face a terrible lack of trust,” he said. “Lack of trust between peoples, between governments and political establishment.

“Improving governance, and improving confidence between governments and people, are essential to improving confidence in the relations between countries.”

At the UN, he said, reforms were needed in its peace-keeping work and management.

“We have rules and regulations that make it very difficult for the UN to act effectively,” he stated. “Sometimes, I think they were conceived to paralyse the institution.

“It would benefit everybody to have a UN that is more nimble, more decentralised, with much more simplified procedures.”

He also addressed the “fragmented” UN development system, which he said was unable to properly coordinate its efforts and lacked accountability.

As well as reforms to international organisations and governance, Guterres said reform at country level and in the way countries dealt with one another was crucial to re-establishing trust.

“And, without trust, I don’t think we will be able to address the very difficult challenges we face today,” he said. 

Guterres took the helm of the UN at the start of this year after winning a leadership contenst in 2016. He is a former Portuguese prime minister and head of the UN refugee agency. 

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