The United Nations chief Antonio Guterres sounded alarm at the ASEAN summit in Jakarta that the world is facing a real risk of fragmentation as countries butt heads. He warned of a “great fracture” in world economic and financial systems with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence, and conflicting security frameworks.
“Our world is stretched to the breaking point by a cascade of crises – from the worsening climate emergency and escalating wars and conflicts, to growing poverty, widening inequalities and rising geopolitical tensions.”
Guterres urged the world leaders to find peaceful and inclusive solutions to the challenges facing the world. He called for a mechanism to provide relief for debt-strapped developing economies, to include payment suspensions, longer lending terms and lower interest rates.
The UN Secretary-General expressed deep concern over the worsening political, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar. He threw his support to the five-point peace plan established by ASEAN leaders in 2021 and called for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar. “I reiterate my urgent call on the military authorities of Myanmar to listen to the aspirations of its people, release all political prisoners, and open the door to a return to democratic rule.”Guterres said the situation in Myanmar has deteriorated further since he met the ASEAN leaders in 2022.
This is the second consecutive year that Myanmar has not been invited to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit which is being held in Indonesia. Marty Natalegawa, former foreign minister of Indonesia, believes that ASEAN member countries must adopt a cohesive position on Myanmar’s civil conflict. He feels that ASEAN is at a loss for ideas. “First and foremost, we need to have a common ASEAN position.”
Natalegawa said the member states have become a little bit divided over the past year in addressing Myanmar’s prolonged civil strife. “At the moment, I’m reminded more about the divisions rather than the unity, this is not only a litmus test for ASEAN, but in my view is an existential threat to ASEAN.”
The military seized power in Myanmar in February 2021, ousting Aung San Suu Kyi-led government. Since then, thousands of people have been killed in clashes and internally displaced.