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UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefs the General Assembly on the work of the Organization and his priorities for 2024
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

“Peace is the UN's raison d’être”: Guterres’ call for action and his priorities for 2024

“Peace is our raison d’être. Yet, as I scan the landscape of today’s world, the one thing missing most dramatically is peace”. The UN Chief Antonio Guterres addressed the GA with these words, listing priority areas for action. and outlining a path forward to achieving common goals that provides reasons for hope, despite turbulent times.

Guterres called for a global effort for peace, pointing to a wave of terrorism in the Sahel, conflicts in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine, armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and gangs ravaging Haiti. He made particular reference to the crisis in Gaza, calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and condemning the October 7 attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other extremist groups, while stressing the need for a two-state solution. He referred to a Security Council that was "deadlocked”.

Highlighting the New Agenda for Peace, which he has set out in mid-2023, Mr.Guterres also called for Security Council reform, and a renewed recommitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

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, based on human rights, including his Call to Action for Human Rights. Additionally, he noted the work of the Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, bringing together governments, private companies, academia and civil society.

Mr. Guterres emphasized how achieving the (SDGs) is key for building peace, and how advancements in two crucial areas are needed: the SDG Stimulus of $500 billion annually in reasonable long-term finance for developing countries and reform of the international financial architecture to respond to the needs of all countries. Mr.Guterres also stressed that the climate emergency remains the world’s most urgent challenge.

Peace, the Secretary-General concluded, remains the most fundamental human venture. Encouraging a collective commitment to peace for present and future generations and asserting his unhesitating commitment to pushing for peace, he underlined that in today’s troubled world, “building peace is a conscious, bold and even radical act.”