By Janet Ekstract
UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – Earlier this week, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shared words of hope with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Muslim community in Christchurch in the aftermath of the horrific attack on mosque worshipers just two months ago.
The secretary-general chose Christchurch for his annual international solidarity visit during Ramadan as he said:
“This year, because of the terrible terrorist attack against your community, I wanted to be here with you. The UN chief emphasized he came to Christchurch to express his “deepest condolences, respect
and the fullest measure of my solidarity to you, your families and the
UN chief Guterres had only words of praise for PM Ardern, who he said he admires for her “immediate call to action” on gun control after the attack in Christchurch. He also praised Ardern on her “call to action” with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Paris Summit the two organized on Wednesday with top technology executives and corporate players to pledge to control, monitor and eliminate the dissemination of terrorist propaganda, language, videos and related hate rhetoric on social media platforms such as Facebook. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg agreed to the pledge and welcomed the move.
The secretary-general remarked that there is a “need to prevent the negative aspects of social media and the Internet in relation to hate speech.” He reiterated that it is something “very important for us.” Adding, “There is no room for hate speech offline or online.”
To that end, during his visit, the secretary-general revealed two new initiatives he’s launched to mobilize the UN system. The first initiative is designed to fight hate speech and responsibility for that is under the leadership of Under-Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. The second initiative would be a system that under the Alliance of Civilizations, would be a system put in place to “better support countries in the protection of holy sites.”
Mr. Guterres also told New Zealand’s PM that he admired her leadership skills as well as how she swiftly gave strong messages to her nation and the world in the aftermath of the attack. Something else the secretary-general lauded Ardern for is her stance on climate change.
“We are facing a climate emergency,” the UN chief emphasized. He warned that climate change is moving faster than anyone imagined and that “we are seeing record levels both in the rise of temperatures across the globe, in relation to the rising level of the oceans and
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Mr. Guterres said “We are facing a paradox. We are feeling clearly by what happens on the ground that things are getting worse, even worse than it was forecasted.” The secretary-general referenced
the most recent cyclone in Mozambique and highlighted that these weather disasters are “becoming more frequent and with more dramatic humanitarian consequences.”
Included in the secretary-general’s remarks on climate change was an urgency to pay attention to the severe situation of climate change in Africa where he said “we see drought progressing terribly.” Mr. Guterres also added that because “things are getting worse on the ground, political will seems to be fading.”
The UN chief said this is why the leadership of New Zealand is “extremely important.” Mr. Guterres said “New Zealand kept its promises in the Paris Accord – introducing legislation to achieve a fundamental goal that the scientific community has defined as absolutely crucial.” He said this is to “reach the end of the century without more than 1.5 degrees, which means achieving carbon
neutrality before 2050.” He said that New Zealand is “fully in line” with the Paris Accord and that he is “very grateful for that.”
Secretary-General Guterres concluded by reminding PM Ardern that her leadership is “absolutely crucial” and that he is “extremely grateful for it.” He said he was also grateful for New Zealand’s
support to the Pacific Island States in the wake of dramatic climate change impact.
His closing message was one of urgency: “We absolutely must catch up, we absolutely must be able to stop, reverse this dramatic trend. We cannot allow for a runaway climate change. We need to protect the lives of all people and we need to protect our planet.” To this end, the Secretary-general will be visiting Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to further convey his climate change message.