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UN chief addresses peace, humanitarian crisis amid ‘age of chaos’

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is entering into an “age of chaos” and that peace remains the absent element amid escalating conflicts, widening divides and intensifying polarization.

Addressing the UN General Assembly with a list of priority areas for action, the UN chief underscored that the UN was founded on the pursuit of peace.

“Peace is our raison d’etre. Yet, as I scan the landscape of today’s world, the one thing missing most dramatically is peace,” he said.

‘An age of chaos’

Guterres mentioned conflicts in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine, increased terrorism in the Sahel, the presence of armed factions in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the devastation caused by gangs in Haiti, underscoring that civilians bear the brunt of these crises.

“For millions of people caught up in conflict around the world, life is a deadly, daily hungry hell,” he said.

He specifically addressed the crisis in Gaza, terming it a “festering wound on our collective conscience.” He called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, condemning the October 7 attacks by Hamas and other militant groups on Israeli civilians, while stressing the need for a two-state solution.

The UN chief also pointed to a “deadlocked” Security Council. He described the current dysfunction as deeper and more dangerous, signalling the world’s entry into “an age of chaos.”

“We are seeing the results: a dangerous and unpredictable free-for-all with total impunity,” he continued, warning of risks ranging from stealthier nuclear weapons to new domains of conflict and weapons.

Calling for action in a multi-polar world

Guterres said that peace is “the thread that weaves through the world’s common fabric” and is “the way out of these interlinked crises; it is a rally cry… and a call to action.”

He asserted that if all countries fulfilled their obligations under the UN Charter, every person’s right to a life of peace and dignity would be guaranteed.

“But, governments are ignoring and undermining the very tenets of multilateralism with zero accountability,” he said.

To address the complexities of today’s multipolar world, the UN chief underlined the need to strengthen and renew global peace and security frameworks.

He recalled the New Agenda for Peace, which he launched in mid-2023, advocating for Security Council reform, a recommitment to eliminating nuclear weapons, intensified conflict prevention efforts and measures to mitigate the impact of geopolitical competition on global trade rules, supply chains, currencies and the internet.

The UN chief urged world leaders to seize the “Summit of the Future” opportunity, which will be held in September in New York on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly, to “shape multilateralism for years to come”.

Fulfilling obligation for future generations

The UN chief also voiced concern about rising hate speech, discrimination, extremism and human rights abuses globally.

He called for a renewed social contract based on trust, justice and inclusion, anchored in human rights, including his Call to Action for Human Rights and a forthcoming code of conduct for information integrity.

Addressing the impact of new technologies, he also noted the work of the Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, which reflects the central convening role of the organization, bringing together governments, private companies, academia and civil society.

Guterres highlighted the interdependence of peace and sustainable, inclusive development and emphasized that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is crucial for building peace and prosperity.

To keep the promise of the SDGs, he called for progress in two crucial areas: the SDG stimulus of $500 billion annually in affordable long-term finance for developing countries and reform of the international financial architecture to respond to the needs of all countries.

He also stressed that the climate crisis remains the world’s most pressing challenge.

Guterres noted the inevitable decline of the fossil fuel era and the unstoppable renewable energy revolution. Urging action this year to prevent a climate catastrophe, he called for tripling global renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency by 2030 and exploring innovative sources of climate finance.

He urged a collective commitment to this obligation for present and future generations, affirming his unwavering dedication to pushing for peace.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Future of truce proposal uncertain as Gazans appeal for end to suffering

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Negotiations over the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal continue as Palestinians in the besieged enclave appeal for an end to the humanitarian tragedy.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Hamas’ response to the latest U.S.-backed ceasefire-for-hostages proposal included “numerous changes” to what was originally presented, some of which were unacceptable.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. We discussed those changes last night with Egyptian colleagues and today with the prime minister” of Qatar, Blinken told a press conference in Doha, Qatar. “Some of the changes are workable; some are not.”

“In the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis – with our partners, with Qatar, with Egypt – to try to close this deal,” Blinken said.

In response to Blinken, a source close to Hamas, who required anonymity, said “all we did was reaffirming our commitment to what was presented on May 5 by the mediators, and we did not discuss any new ideas or proposals.”

Noting the latest ceasefire proposal includes clauses allowing Israel to resume the fighting in Gaza after the second phase if the negotiations do not yield positive results, the source said Hamas “requested official international guarantees to prevent Israel from resuming the war and to commit to the terms of the agreement phases.”

The U.S. has said Israel accepted the proposal, but Israel has not publicly stated this.

Also on Wednesday, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Hamas wanted written guarantees from the U.S. for a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip in order to sign off on the truce proposal.

Despite the negotiations, Israel continued its bombing and airstrikes in Gaza, with the Palestinian death toll from the ongoing conflict rising to 37,202, according to health authorities in Gaza.

Palestinian civilians who had been displaced by over eight months of fighting had hoped that the ceasefire plan would be put into effect.

“My house was bombed. How long are we going to have to endure the conflict?” a displaced Palestinian told CMG.

“We want a solution that will allow us to rest, so that we can live in peace and tranquility like the rest of the world, and not have to fight every time. Our children, only 16 or 17 years old, have already witnessed several armed conflicts.”

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said on Tuesday that more than 600,000 Palestinian children are being deprived of an education in the besieged enclave and are on the verge of becoming a lost generation.

Source(s): CGTN

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Fighting continues as future of U.S. ceasefire plan for Gaza is uncertain

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Deadly fighting rocked Gaza on Tuesday as Hamas formally responded to a U.S. ceasefire proposal and Jordan hosted an emergency summit for the besieged Palestinian territory.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they had delivered their response to the proposal to Qatari and Egyptian mediators, expressing a “willingness to deal positively in order to reach an agreement.” They emphasized their priority of stopping the conflict in the Gaza Strip and ensuring the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory.

Egypt and Qatar said they had received Hamas’ response to the proposal but did not disclose its contents.

White House spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. had received Hamas’s response and was evaluating it.

An Israeli official said on Tuesday that Israel had received Hamas’s response to the U.S.-drafted proposal and the movement had rejected it, Xinhua reported, citing Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news.

The United States has said Israel has accepted its proposal, but Israel has not publicly said it has. Israel, which has continued assaults in central and southern Gaza, has repeatedly said it would not commit to an end to its military operation in Gaza before Hamas is eliminated.

In addition to the ceasefire proposal, Jordan hosted an emergency summit on Tuesday for the besieged Palestinian territory.

The conference, titled “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza” and co-organized by Egypt, and the United Nations, called for intensified efforts to aid the Palestinians and aimed to develop a collective response to the dire humanitarian situation in the enclave.

In his remarks at the conference, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi called on countries to compel Israel to stop “using hunger as a weapon” in Gaza and to remove obstacles to delivering humanitarian aid to people there.

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also attended the conference, urged support for humanitarian aid programs presented by the Palestinian Authority and other countries to assist the afflicted Palestinian people.

“The (Palestinian) government has presented its programs for relief, restoration of basic services, institutional reform, and financial and economic stability, and has announced its readiness to take on duties in Gaza, including all crossings into the strip, just as in the West Bank,” said Abbas.

He urged the Security Council and the international community to pressure Israel to open all land crossings into Gaza and hand them over to the Palestinian government.

Also at the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to support Jordan’s crucial role in assisting Gaza residents and as a key regional hub for humanitarian work.

Source(s): CGTN

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UN Security Council adopts Gaza ceasefire resolution

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The UN Security Council on Monday adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution aimed at reaching a comprehensive ceasefire deal in three phases to end the war in Gaza.

Adopted by a large majority of 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining, Resolution 2735 also urges both parties to the conflict to fully implement the terms of the proposal “without delay and without condition.”

According to the resolution, phase one includes an “immediate, full, and complete ceasefire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.”

It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “populated areas” of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes and neighborhoods throughout the enclave, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale.

Phase two would see a permanent end to hostilities “in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

In phase three, “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza” would begin, and the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza would be returned to Israel.

The council also underlined the proposal’s provision that if negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will continue as long as talks continue.

The resolution says that Israel has “accepted” the deal and “calls upon” Hamas to do the same.

It also notes that the Security Council rejects any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of the enclave.

The text also reiterates the council’s “unwavering commitment” to the vision of the two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

The resolution says that “in this regard stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

Later on Monday, Hamas announced that it welcomes the resolution, saying that it’s ready to cooperate with the mediators to engage in indirect negotiations to implement resolution principles “that are consistent with the demands of our people and resistance,” including a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the full withdrawal of Israeli forces, prisoner-hostage exchange and reconstruction.

The Palestinian presidency hailed the adoption of the resolution as a step in the right direction to stop the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported.

The Palestinian presidency also called on all parties to fulfill their responsibilities to implement the resolution.

China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Fu Cong said after voting in favor for the resolution that China calls for the immediate realization of an unconditional and lasting ceasefire and urges the sponsor to adopt a responsible attitude and make sincere efforts for the realization of an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Noting that there are still many ambiguities in the draft, Fu said China still has legitimate concerns about whether the main parties will accept the ceasefire proposal and whether the three-stage arrangement can be successfully transitioned.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, countered that the council was signing on to the plan without “details” and “giving a carte blanche.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest effort to halt the conflict, which is in its ninth month.

Since October 7, the conflict has killed at least 37,124 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The UN strongly urges all parties to prioritize the protection of civilians who are bearing the brunt of this conflict, particularly women and children. Everyone has obligations under international law. They must comply with those obligations, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a daily press briefing on Monday.

Source(s): CGTN

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