UN Chief Warns Leaders Must Cooperate in New 'Multipolar' World

Sep 21, 2023

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres issued urgent warnings this week in his speech to the General Assembly. His remarks came as key UN meetings over matters like the Russia-Ukraine war and climate change take place.  

Guterres said world leaders are falling short. He stated that countries are becoming more divided as threats to the planet become greater. He said it’s vital that leaders work together on major matters.     

“Our world is becoming unhinged ... Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond,” Guterres told the world leaders. He said that the UN itself must evolve to meet these threats. That could change how countries cooperate.        

At the UN’s climate summit, China, India, and the US were absent from the speakers’ list. Those three countries are the world's largest polluters. For the US, climate envoy John Kerry is there in President Biden’s absence. 

“The world has changed. Our institutions have not,” Guterres pointed out. “Instead of solving problems, they risk becoming part of the problem.” 

The UN chief said the world is moving away from leadership by a major power, the US, and into a more “multipolar” power structure. Any new structure will need to address this new reality, he said.  

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: Why might it be important for leaders from different countries to cooperate when facing challenges that impact everyone on Earth?

China, India, and the US are the world’s largest polluters. This detail from the story would best be described as _______. (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. an opinion
b. an exaggeration
c. a fact
d. a guess
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