UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the world to prevent a Cold War between the United States and China and halt conflicts so it can focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We must do everything to avoid a new Cold War,” Guterres said in an address as he opened an almost entirely virtual UN General Assembly.
“We are moving in a very dangerous direction. Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities,” he said, without saying the United States and China by name.
Tensions have soared between the United States and China in recent months, with President Donald Trump blaming Beijing for the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed some 950,000 lives around the world and cast a shadow over his reelection bid.
Guterres has campaigned for an end to all violent conflicts as the world instead focuses on stopping the disease.
He pointed to some partial successes including ceasefires declared in Cameroon, Colombia and Cameroon.
He pressed for a universal ceasefire by the end of the year.
“I appeal for a stepped-up international effort — led by the Security Council — to achieve a global ceasefire by the end of this year,” Guterres said.
“We have 100 days. The clock is ticking.”
Guterres also offered open criticism of right-wing movements in the face of the coronavirus.
“Populism and nationalism have failed. Those approaches to contain the virus have often made things manifestly worse.”